by Doward Wilson
& Kathleen Kaska
This week we have a review of Run Dog Run by Kathleen Kaska, and a guest post by Kathleen about Greyhounds.Run Dog Run is Kathleen’s first mystery in the new Kate Caraway Animal-Rights series. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of Run Dog Run, and a link to purchase it from Amazon, and an indie bookstore where a portion of the sale goes to help support KRL.
Run Dog Run by Kathleen Kaska
Review by Sandra Murphy
Kate Caraway loves her life in Kenya. She’s working on a research project involving the diminishing number of elephants and making progress until she meets up with four poachers. Things go badly, enough so, she and her husband have to leave the country in a hurry. After years away from the US, where can she call home?
It seems like the Texas Hill Country would be a relaxing spot. The warm temperatures would remind her of Africa and besides, her good friends Max and Olga will welcome them with open arms. It’s been five years since she’s seen her goddaughter Rosa Linda, too.
Rosa Linda seems to have missed the part about Kate relaxing after her harrowing escape. She’s involved in Greyhound rescue and that means Kate should help. At least it will take her mind off what happened. Or not. Rose Linda says she has proof racing dogs are being abused and live lures are part of the training program. She drags Kate to a nearby ranch owned by rancher/political candidate Guy Fordyce. Too bad their contact is a no-show.
On the way home, they find out why when they see Jesus’s truck in a ditch. There’s blood but no body. Kate and Rose Linda were warned to stay away from the Fordyce ranch by Guy’s drunken brother. Could this be why?
The more Kate learns, the less she feels she knows. The world of dog racing is not for the faint of heart. Guy barely pays attention to what’s going on with his dogs. His daughter started using drugs and died. To distract himself, he’s running for office. His wife is a zombie since the death. It seems nothing is going his way anymore.
For all of Rosa Linda’s enthusiasm for changing the lives of racing dogs, she has a lot of last minute changes in plans, leaving Kate not only investigating alone but putting her in danger as well. Rosa Linda is scheduled to be married in two weeks, to a man her father doesn’t trust. She has little interest in her own wedding. Something major is distracting her, but she’s refusing to tell.
This is a story with characters you’d want as friends. Kate is a strong woman and her relationship with husband Jack, a former Cubs catcher, is an enviable one. Max and Olga are good parents, although Rosa Linda’s enthusiasm wears them out or makes them crazy much of the time.
For readers who fear this is a sad book or involves scenes of abuse of the dogs, I admit I worried too. It takes a deft hand to balance reality with what is acceptable reading for dog lovers. I’m glad to say Kaska manages this very well. There are scenes that include dead or injured dogs but nothing more graphic than what is written here. Dog racing can be a brutal sport, and if we are too compassionate to read about it, how can it be changed?
The story is plot dense, and that’s a good thing. The characters are well-defined, engaging, and fun or brave as needed. Kate and Jack are certainly a pair you’ll want to visit again, wherever they live. This is part of a four book series; some questions carry over until the next book. The action grabs you from the first paragraph and rushes to the final page, with hardly time to take a breath.
Both as a mystery lover and a dog lover, this is a book I can highly recommend.
Tall and Tan and Young and Lovely
by Kathleen Kaska
When I hear these words to that famous song, “Girl from Ipanema,” I can’t help thinking about Greyhounds, the epitome of grace and elegance. I even visualize them slinking down a catwalk alongside human models. Greyhounds are the subject of my latest mystery, Run Dog Run. Here are a few interesting facts about them:
Mick the Miller, a prestigious Greyhound from England, is one of that country’s most honored athletes. He was born in 1926 and won nineteen races in a row.
A two-year-old Greyhound named Grim once lived in the White House. He was the beloved pet of President Rutherford B. Hayes, who took office in 1876.
The highest honors ever bestowed on a Greyhound went to Ballyregan Bob. On December 9, 1986, he broke the world record of consecutive wins at thirty-two. He was also an honored guest at the commissioning of the British Royal Navy warship, HMS Pursuer.
Australia racer Fernando Bale earned $1,293,110 during his career, making him the highest money earner of all time. He retired in 2016.
But not all racing Greyhounds are cherished and cared for, especially after they retire. I’ll spare you the unpleasant details. The good news is that in the last decade, Greyhound racing has declined sixty-six percent, and Greyhound breeding fifty-seven percent. Only six states continue to operate dog tracks: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Texas, and West Virginia.
When I decided to write mysteries, I wanted to write stories about a cause I believe in. Animal welfare and animal rights is at the top of my list. At that time, I was a volunteer for Wildlife Rescue in Austin, Texas. I cared for orphaned and injured wildlife. My heart went out to these helpless creatures that were often in peril because of human involvement. After a teacher friend of mine adopted a Greyhound and brought him to the school, I decided that Greyhound racing would be the focus of my first book.
Although I was enthusiastic about writing the story, the research for Run Dog Run sent me to a few places I wasn’t thrilled to visit. The day I drove up to a Greyhound racetrack outside of Houston, a knot formed in my stomach. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but if I wanted to write a book about Greyhound racing, I needed to watch the dogs run. I spoke to the staff about what happens before and after races, where the dogs are kept when they are not racing, how much of their lives are spent running, and how to bet on the dogs. Even though I was there on a weekend, there wasn’t a huge crowd. And to tell the truth, most of them seemed languid. I also toured a Greyhound adoption facility where the dogs were well cared for. I was so encouraged by the work of those dedicated people, I included a character in my story who operates an adoption facility to highlight adopting racers.
I also read several books and articles about dog racing, some in support of the sport and some against it. The latter group painted a disturbing picture of what those dogs experience. Much of what I learned went into the first draft. When I sent it to my then agent, he told me I editorialized too much. He was right. I was too zealous and preachy. So I toned it down and gave just enough information to keep readers interested and not overwhelm them with my personal opinions.
A portion of the proceeds from book sales of Run Dog Run will be donated to The Greyhound Project, Inc. If you read and enjoy my book, a review on Goodreads or Amazon will help spread the word.
To enter to win a copy of Run Dog Run, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “run,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen July 15, 2017. US residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address, and if via comment please include your email address.
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