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Golden Retriever Mysteries Books In Order

Publication Order of Golden Retriever Mystery Books

In Dog We Trust (2010) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Kingdom of Dog (2011) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Dog Helps Those (2012) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Whom Dog Hath Joined (2014) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Dog Have Mercy (2015) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Honest to Dog (2016) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Dog is in the Details (2017) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Author Neil S. Plakcy is a U.S based writer. With a lengthy publishing career, Plakcy’s work ranges from romance, anthologies, mystery and gay erotica. Favouring series, he’s written seven and has been a finalist for the Lambda Literary award twice.

Before graduating in 1992 with a Masters in Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing at Florida International University, Plakcy’s professional history consisted mainly in business administration for private companies in South Florida.

Plakcy’s initial public foray into writing that includes man’s best friend, was a collaborative effort with a long-term friend and fellow writer Sharon Sakson. Together in 2007 they penned a collection of 25 hear-warming stories of gay men and their experiences with dogs titled ‘Paws and Reflect: A Special Bond Between Man and Dog.’

Starting in 2010, the first of the Golden Retriever Mysteries Series was published, entitled ‘In Dog We Trust’. Through this piece of the collection and others, Plakcy explores the deep bond forged between man and his dog against a backdrop of mystery and crime.

For all intensive purposes the primary character is the average middle-aged, ‘everyday man’. The series follows protagonist Steve Levitan, who in the first series installment goes through somewhat of a mid-life crisis: having lost his career, his home and is a newly found divorcee. Moreover, Steve’s just finished a brief sting in prison for computer hacking and returns to his hometown of Stewart’s Crossing with nothing.

By the good graces of his parole officer, Steve manages to take a part-time job as an adjunct professor at his alma mater, Eastern College. Eastern College also remains a recurring locale in the series, with many future mysteries occurring within the school grounds and to individuals associated with it in one way or another; spooky indeed.

In the first of the series, Steve meets his best friend, a shaggy golden retriever named Rochester. As with most untimely yet important relationships, Steve doesn’t come across Rochester in just any normal way. Upon his neighbour’s murder, Steve becomes Rochester’s temporary guardian. More than any human could care, Rochester is actually the one most shook by his previous owner Caroline’s death and sets out to solve the murder mystery by digging up clues which in turn forces Steve to investigate as only a human could to find true justice.

With a rumbling of Sherlock Holmes in him, Rochester seems to be quite the detective, helping Steve solve Caroline’s murder in the first installment and others bizarre murders of successive series occurring with former members of staff and students of South Florida’s Eastern College. A conspiracy is eventually discovered, with Eastern College’s reputation being fiercely protected by those involved in the murder, with no signs of slowing down to ensure that their credibility is kept in tact. The duo throw caution to the wind as they disregard these threats and seek justice, in the end doing something more than doing the will of karma, but receiving their own portions in the form of a new lifelong friend.

Re-visiting the past once more, in the second and ‘Kingdom of Dog’, Eastern College takes center stage as a central locale for the series. With the death of the schools Director of Admissions, a truck load of money in the form of a $500 million dollar fund-raising campaign and, of course, suspicious behavior by two stars of the schools football team, Steve and Rochester are forced to put on their detective hats yet again.

Steve’s history with the school, both as student in his youth and adjunct professor later in life, are explored more fully with readers being able to catch more of a glimpse into the protagonist’s life and character on a personal level. As a result the entire Golden Retriever Mysteries really hits its stride in showcasing the intricacies of well-plotted and detail oriented crimes and cover-ups, alongside the more gentle aspect of a person who’s had some bad luck in the past, try to repent and do some good.

Jumping to the eighth and latest installment in ‘Dog is in the Details’, Steve and Rochester’s most recent exploits takes a more personal turn. Personal issues bubble to the surface for Steve as has to face many things that would be a struggle to anybody. Steve’s former religious ties, as a Jewish Orthodox bring their own social problems, people from Temple and a conservative outlook on many things that has to be dealt with.

Another interesting common theme that reoccurs in each installment of the series is a pre-occupation with mental health. Whether that be in the form of the homeless suffering some ailment, a young man from the main character’s former synagogue or even the trials and tribulations of Steve’s attempts to grasp of his own psyche’s chattering when reflecting upon parts of his life. Couple this with the deep analyses needing to be done when trying to figure out the intentions and motives of the individuals behind the criminal acts, the reader can really get into messy (but interesting) territory of psychology with this series.

Through further investigation, the duo finds that the mysteries surrounding the Jewish suburbs in South Florida stem much deeper than first recognized. What they find is hidden beneath Steve’s family secrets, religious cover-ups promoted by the synagogue and its members, as well as the broader socio-political issues tied with it all when live-ins of a local homeless shelter get tied up and exploited in the devious concoction by the perpetrators of the crimes.

Adding to the humanistic aspect of this duo, throughout Steve’s investigations of these odd incidents he’s confronted with many people and situations that he might rather not confront. Sinister past relations with colleagues, students he even used to teach back at Eastern College and religious authorities that forces the main character to review his actions and behaviours in the past which led to his life unraveling in the first installment of the series.

What’s more heartwarming about it all in this collection is the fact that both man and dog seem to heal and help each other. Despite being something he was reluctant to do in the first place, Steve’s initial moment of caring for another (after a lifetime of caring only about himself) by taking in Rochester kicks off their entire adventures together. In a twist of fate, a sentimental entity in Rochester is also able to receive some closure from the unfortunate incidents that took his first and former human companion away from him.

Through it all man and his best friend triumph, learning more about themselves, their relationship with each other and by extension how and where they each fit into the world.

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