To Catch a Treat By Linda O. Johnston: Review/Guest Post/Giveaway

May 28, 2016 | 2016 Articles, Cynthia Chow, Mysteryrat's Maze, Pets

by Cynthia Chow
& Linda O. Johnston

This week we have a review & giveaway of another fun pet mystery by Linda O. Johnston, along with a fun guest post from Linda about pet in books. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of the To Catch a Treat, and a link to purchase it from Amazon.

To Catch a Treat: A Barkery & Biscuits Mystery By Linda O. Johnston
Review by Cynthia Chow

Considering that Carrie Kennersly practically raised and continues to support her little brother, she is understandably still protective of 28 year-old Neal. The prime reason Carrie agrees to accompany Neal on the hiking tour he leads is to meet his new two-day-old love interest, Janelle Blaystone. Any initial reservations Carrie may have had are immediately set aside when she hears of Janelle’s heart-wrenching tale of losing her beloved Labrador, Goliath. Go was dognapped out of their dog park in LA, apparently only one a string of designer dogs and purebreds to have been snatched. book

As much as Carrie sympathizes with the photographer’s loss, Carrie grows suspicious with Janelle’s reasons for coming to Knobcone Heights, not to mention her distinct interest in local resident Ada Arnist. Carrie’s fears seem to be fulfilled when Go unbelievably appears at the Mountaintop Rescue shelter, while Ada herself is found drowned at Knobcone Lake. Carrie worries that Neal’s latest love interest may be implicated in murder, or even worse, actually be guilty. With Carrie’s emotions involved, it’s no wonder that she begins to question everyone’s connections to the crimes. As much as Carrie loves being a part-time vet tech and running her human and pet bakery Barkery and Biscuits, indulging the four-legged and their two-legged companions takes a backseat when those she cares about are in jeopardy of being hurt, even if it’s only by a broken heart.

Animals lovers will love this mystery that emphasizes the bond between pets and their owners. Carrie can barely imagine a crime as heinous as that of stealing pets for profit, and having her brother be involved is even worse. No one knows the complications that arise when one’s feelings are involved like Carrie, who at the moment is inching towards a relationship with the veterinarian Dr. Reed Storme. That two other men have expressed interest only confuses matters, especially when it could be a case of out-of-sight, out-of-mind. What Carrie can always rely on is her adorable poodle-terrier mix Biscuit, as well as the customers who indulge their beloved companions. This continues to be a reliably entertaining series that always highlights the mutual devotion between humans and their furry friends.

Cynthia Chow is the branch manager of Kaneohe Public Library on the island of Oahu. She balances a librarian lifestyle of cardigans and hair buns with a passion for motorcycle riding and regrettable tattoos (sorry, Mom).

What Is It About Pets?
Why Do People Love to Own Them, See Them, Read About Them?
by Linda O. Johnston

I’m a pet person. Are you? Chances are, the answer is yes. A lot of people are owned by pets these days. Primarily, I’m a dog person ? a dogaholic ? and I’ve been owned by dogs for most of my life. I read about them and I write about them as do other authors.

I attend a lot of conferences for mystery and romance authors and when I’m on panels at mystery conferences those panels are frequently about putting pets in our stories. My most recent was at Malice Domestic in Bethesda, MD, in late April ? and, yes, my panel consisted of several of us who included either dogs or cats or sometimes both, in our stories. It wasn’t my first panel at Malice featuring pet writers, either, as I was on a similar panel in February at Left Coast Crime.


Linda O. Johnston

Why feature people who write about pets on a panel? Because at least some of the people attending these conferences are pet people too, and particularly enjoy having pets in the books they read. And why is that? It may well be because they identify with the people in those books who happen to be animal lovers like they are. The readers might not actually be sleuths in their real lives, amateur or otherwise. Their careers might have nothing to do with pets, but they might have families consisting of spouses and kids with whom they live.

They might also have family members who are pets and these days, a lot of people are willing to admit that pets aren’t just creatures who happen to live with them. Pets are family members. With that admission might also come the interest in reading about other peoples’ pets, real or imaginary, such as seeing how pets fit into the lives of the hero and/or heroine of romance novels. Helping to solve mysteries, or just being there for the sleuths in the books who are the actual detectives.

For example, Malice Domestic is a conference for cozy mystery authors and readers, and a lot of cozies have pets in them. The stories might feature the pets, or the characters might own them without their being a huge part of the stories, but pets do say a lot about those characters and can help readers identify with them.

There are online resources that tell you all about cozy mysteries, such as what their themes are and whether those themes involve pets. Those pets can range from the usual dogs and cats to horses, birds and more. In addition, there are mystery series that involve characters whose careers involve pets in some manner: pet sitters, pet boutiques and more.

That’s been the case with three of the mystery series I’ve written. The first was the Kendra Ballantyne, Pet-Sitter Mystery series, and its spinoff was the Pet Rescue Mysteries. Currently, I write the Barkery & Biscuits Mysteries, about a veterinary technician who buys a bakery and turns half into a barkery where she bakes and sells the special healthy dog treats she developed as a vet tech. Oh yes, she becomes an amateur sleuth on the side when murders start occurring in the small fictional town in which she lives and the first time she’s considered a suspect so she starts solving those mysteries. My latest release is the second Barkery book, To Catch a Treat. The first, Bite the Biscuit, was a finalist in the fiction category of the Dog Writers Association of America’s Maxwell Awards.

I also write the Superstition Mysteries, where the theme does not actually revolve around the pets in the stories. My protagonist Rory Chasen does happen to own a black and white dog, though, and per superstitions, black and white dogs are lucky, especially if you see one on your way to a business meeting. In fact, Pluckie saves the life of a woman who owns a pet boutique, and that woman asks Rory to stay and manage the store. Oh, and of course there are black cats roaming the fictional town of Destiny, California, which is all about superstitions.

In addition, I write a miniseries for Harlequin Nocturne, which is their paranormal romance line. My Alpha Force is a covert military unit of shapeshifters who mostly turn into werewolves, and they also have cover animals that resemble them while they’re shifted. So, yes, not only do I love animals, but I love reading and writing about them. In my stories, although people sometimes get murdered, the animals all survive.

If you’re reading this article, chances are that you like pets and are possibly owned by some. You might also enjoy reading books with pets in them. Well, I applaud you, I thank you and I identify with you!

To enter to win a copy of To Catch a Treat, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “treat,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen June 4, 2016. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address, and if via comment please include your email address.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section.

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


Linda O. Johnston, a former lawyer who is now a full-time writer, currently writes two mystery series for Midnight Ink involving dogs. Barkery & Biscuits Mysteries and the Superstition. Linda has also written the Pet Rescue Mystery Series, a spin-off from her Kendra Ballantyne, Pet-Sitter mysteries for Berkley Prime Crime and also currently writes for Harlequin Romantic Suspense as well as the Alpha Force paranormal romance miniseries about shapeshifters for Harlequin Nocturne. Please visit Linda at her website: and friend her on Facebook at


  1. I really enjoy books that have pets in them — they really are so much a part of our lives. Thanks for the giveaway!

  2. I love Linda Johnson’s books. Thank you for the chance to win a copy of To Catch a Treat.

  3. I love pet mysteries, probably because I love pets. I can’t wait to read “To Catch A Treat”. Thanks for the giveaway.

  4. I do enjoy books with pets in them! Yep,
    dogs live here too!! I would be so honored and happy to win To catch a treat! Thanks for the chance!

  5. I love animals and love pets in stories!!

  6. I am a pet person (currently I am owned by a dog), and I do enjoy reading cozy mysteries which have pets in them. I am looking forward to reading To Catch A Treat. Thank you for the giveaway.
    myrifraf (at) gmail (dot) com

  7. I would love to have this book

  8. Reading animal-related stories – I’m always on the line not wanting ANYTHING negative to happen to the animal. But, I’m willing to try this one!1

  9. This is a must read. Love animal involved stories. Love library’s with animals. How can people NOT love having a pet. They are there for you 24/7. They are loyal, funny, companionable, loving, protective. They are not afraid of words like ‘handicap’ or ‘challenged’. They deal with what IS. They don’t sugar coat it. They live for the moment, enjoy life to the full. The past was yesterday and they ignore it. Don’t become bitter, resentful, whatever. They succor any breed, any species in need, most of the time. They don’t have borders. They are not hindered by fear, color or anything else, they put themselves out to help without fear, without reservation. The undying love and loyalty of a pet teaches empathy, responsibility, and so much more to ALL involved. And a very necessary shoulder to lean on when troubles in the family or at school arise. Kids growing up with pets are likely to learn about the power of comforting, nurturing, and responsibility. And research has shown there are physical and mental benefits to having pets. Have had both dogs and cats usually 2 or 3 of each at any given time. Cannot see life without them. And they listen most attentively when I read to them.

  10. oh a new to me author, this doggie book sounds interesting..thanks for the chance

  11. When I had a cocker spaniel, I would always bake biscuits for her and her dog cousins. I particularly liked to add “liver” flavoring!

    So nice to see another series about pets.

  12. Great review & interview! Pets really add to all books. Thanks for the chance to win.

  13. I just got the first book I’m this series, and I’m really looking forward to reading it.

  14. Love Linda’s books. Want to read this one. Volunteered at cat zhow this weekend. 11 adoptions!!!!!!

  15. I had dogs when I was growing up & cats after I got married , I prefer dogs. Love all your mysteries, Thanks for this chance. Linda May

  16. That cover makes me want to laugh it is so darn cute..I wonder who does these covers? I love the themes that Linda writes and please enter me.

  17. Looking forward to reading this book. I love books with pets in them.??

  18. This series sounds wonderful! I haven’t started reading it yet, so I would love to read this one. Thank you for the opportunity to win!

  19. We have a winner!


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