Standing Dead By Margaret Mizushima: Review/Giveaway/Guest Post

Mar 18, 2023 | 2023 Articles, Mysteryrat's Maze, Pets, Sandra Murphy

by Sandra Murphy & Margaret Mizushima

This week we have a review of the latest Timber Creek K-9 Mystery by Margaret Mizushima along with an interesting guest post by Margaret about a dog’s sense of smell. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of the book and a link to purchase it.

Standing Dead: Timber Creek K-9 Mystery by Margaret Mizushima
Review by Sandra Murphy

Last summer, Deputy Mattie Cobb found her mother living in Mexico. Mattie wanted to let her know, the Cobb brothers, the ones who killed Mattie’s father, were both dead. Her mother still doesn’t feel safe. When Mattie and her sister, Julia, go to visit, they find their mother and stepfather have disappeared. Something or someone spooked them. Now it’s up to Mattie to find them again.

It’s not going to take long. It seems the killer has her mother and stepfather and is coming for Mattie. Now, it’s a game of cat and mouse as threatening notes with hints of what’s next are discovered at crime scenes. Each one brings the killer closer.

A body is found tied to a dead tree in a burned-out area, one of the law enforcement officers is shot, there are two maybe-poisoned horses, a litter of sickly puppies, and a cat who ate something he shouldn’t. Hunting and camping season means a lot of suspects. Mattie and her search dog, Robo, like the rest of the team, are nearing exhaustion.

In her personal life, she’s agreed to marry Cole, the veterinarian and sometimes member of the Sheriff’s posse. He’s in charge of the horses, puppies, and cat — and hoping none of their owners is the killer.

The only way Mattie can save her birth family, her work family, and her to-be family, is to let the killer come for her.

This is book eight in the series. Mattie is coming to terms with a childhood trauma, is more open to having friends, and accepting love into her life. Robo, of course, is the hero of every scene. I love learning more about how they work together. Mizushima’s description of the area is sharp enough you can hear the twigs snap as they walk through the deadened woods. Mattie is surely someone you’d want in your corner, and if you’re lost, Robo can find you. Be prepared to read it in one sitting. The suspense and desire to know what happens next makes that a must. Then read it again, to savor it.

This is a series I look forward to each year. I hope there will be many more tales of Mattie and Robo’s exploits.

Sandra Murphy lives in the shadow of the Arch in St. Louis Missouri. She’s editor for Peace, Love, and Crime: Crime Stories Inspired by the Songs of the ’60s, with twenty-two cozy stories. She also edited A Murder of Crows, twenty-one stories featuring animals and crime (no animals were harmed). She also writes for magazines, newsletters, and the occasional guest blog. Both anthologies are available at the usual outlets, print or ebook.

Smell Ya Later
By Margaret Mizushima

It is well known that dogs have a keen sense of smell. According to Scent, Training to Track, Search and Rescue by Milo D. Pearsall and Hugo Verbruggen, M.D., large breeds of dogs have 150 to 220 million olfactory receptor cells compared to a human’s measly five million.

Cave paintings have shown humans and domesticated wolves working together to hunt in prehistoric times. Today, dogs aid humans in many ways including, but not limited to, Search and Rescue missions, human remains detection, narcotics and explosives detection, and the detection of illegal smuggling of goods or animals. Dogs assist humans with disabilities and are even being trained to detect when their person is about to experience a seizure. There seems to be no end to them using their special abilities to help us.

Margaret Mizushima with her dogs

One of the most remarkable things I’ve learned about dogs is that they can remember the scent of anyone they meet, and they store that particular scent in their memory for their entire lifetime. Our family experienced this trait with my nineteen-year-old grand-dog. During his final years, the little fella lost his sense of hearing, and he also lost his eyesight due to degenerative eye disease. We lived halfway across the country so only visited him once a year, but as soon as he came close to sniff us, he wiggled and wagged in greeting. This occurred at a time when he couldn’t hear or see, but I have no doubt he remembered our scent.

Scent memory exists in humans as well, although to a lesser degree and certainly not as well defined and catalogued as that of dogs. Scent might spark powerful and vivid memories, depending on the situation under which that memory has been stored. One of the scents I recall best is that of my grandmother’s home, a unique combination of the stone walls that made up her porch, hundreds of African violets potted in rich soil, and the lye soap she used to launder everything: curtains, linens, and clothing. Although that home no longer exists, having been destroyed in the tornado of 2007 that demolished the town of Greensburg, Kansas, I can still conjure up the smell of it today.

When your dog appears to recognize someone he met years ago, or if he seems to know the scent of his mother or littermates, you can rest assured that he actually does remember through his nose and his powerful scent memory. And when you leave home in the morning to go to work, you can imagine him saying “smell ya later” because he’ll be there Johnny-on-the-spot to greet you as you come back home through the door.

To enter to win a copy of Standing Dead, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “standing” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen March 25, 2023. U.S. residents only, and you must be 18 or older to enter. If you are entering via email please include you mailing address in case you win, it will be deleted after the contest. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Also listen to our new mystery podcast where mystery short stories and first chapters are read by actors! They are also available on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Spotify.

You can use this link to purchase the book. If you have ad blocker on you may not see the Amazon link. You can also click here to purchase the book.

Margaret Mizushima writes the award-winning and internationally published Timber Creek K-9 Mysteries. She serves as past president of the Rocky Mountain Chapter of Mystery Writers of America and was elected 2019 Writer of the Year by Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. She and her husband recently moved from Colorado, where they raised two daughters and a multitude of animals, to a home in the Pacific Northwest. Find her on Facebook/AuthorMargaretMizushima, Twitter @margmizu, Instagram @margmizu, and her website

Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.


  1. Sounds interesting! Count me in!

  2. Dogs are amazing creatures. So glad
    we have them in our lives. Would love
    to read this book. thanks

    • I really enjoy reading books featuring dogs in the storyline. Would love to read.

    • I agree that dogs are amazing! Thanks for stopping in to read about Standing Dead!

  3. I love Margaret’s books!

  4. This was a fun post to read. First I loved the more detailed description of the book and then the insightful teaching about dogs and scent. It’s so true about memories strong connection to this sense more than others. Makes me think I’d best call on that more in my writing ( ;

  5. Loved this series so much!!

  6. We have a winner!


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