The J. P. Beaumont series is my favorite, and this is one of the better in the series. That's in spite of all the driving between Bellingham and Seattle, and all the poop scooping. What's really at issue here is how Beau's handling retirement, and why his old competitor, crime writer Max would possibly be asking--before he dies in a fire--that he be the one to investigate his death should something happen to him. When Max's goddaughter Erin passes along the message, Beau's puzzled. He doesn't see any connection to the big black dog he and Mel seem to have inherited, nor, for a long time, the string of other deaths that follow Max's, including the attempt on the dog's life. How are they all connected? I like the humor in how this one is finally linked.