Right off the bat we have our main characters in dire straits. Ariadne (Ari) Willow and her partner Dale Frye run Bitches Investigations. Ari is a private investigator who specializes in those people who have no place else to turn. The underdogs. She’s good at her job for more than one reason. Dale has a knack for the computer stuff, digging into back grounds, bank accounts and other data. But Ari is the snoop who excels at sniffing around. Sometimes literally, because she’s Canidae, or werewolf as humans would call them. Though she has no pack of her own Ari gained a lot of notoriety when she once stopped a massive wolf culling by special Canidae hunters. And she’s going to need the goodwill of other wolves to get her out of the latest bind.
Previously, Bitches Investigations had been picking up jobs for a high profile law firm, hired by a lawyer named Cecily Parish. It was with the understanding that at the end of her probation period they would make an offer for Ari to come work for the law firm full time. Unfortunately Ari found out the offer came with the understanding that she would give up the practice that she had built from the ground up, leaving Dale without a job. Cecily was as successful in the courtroom as she was sexy and she has a secret to her success. She’s a succubus and used to getting what she wants. But her powers don’t work so well on Canidae and when Ari turns down the offer of employment Cecily doesn’t take it well and plots a way to get Ari to change her mind.
Kennel Club begins with Dale getting a phone call that Ari has been arrested for murder. Knowing her puppy isn’t a killer, Dale is immediately spurred into action. She calls a detective friend of theirs, as well as Ari’s mom, Gwen. Cecily offered to make all the charges go away but Ari once again turned her down. From there things just snowball as Gwen calls in the London pack that both Ari and Dale had saved, and the group puts their collective heads together to unravel the mystery of why Ari was framed for murder. When Ari is actually sentenced and goes to jail and it becomes a race against time to get her out before the wolf forces her to change. No Canidae has ever lasted longer than a month before the wolf takes over.
One thing that both Ari and Dale know, Bitches is not going down without a fight.
Since this is the seventh book of the series I’d say I’ve gotten to know Ari and Dale pretty well. Even from the beginning of the series there was something about them that draws you in. They weren’t always lovers. In the beginning Dale saved some dog on the street and woke up with a naked woman in her bed. The woman offered her a job and the friendship developed from there. I like that Ari and Dale were friends long before they were lovers. To me it lends solidity and substance that you sometimes don’t see with romantic partners. Dale is the love of Ari’s life, and Ari is Dale’s puppy. No matter what they face, they do it together and don’t give up on each other. I love that.
The Writing Style
The story flows as you go back and forth between what is happening in the jail with Ari and what is happening outside with Dale and the pack. Cannon has an easy style to read and the pace never falters, even in the slower more introspective scenes. There are a lot of details to cover, after all Kennel Club is a mystery as much as it’s an urban fantasy. Maybe more. But through it all there is a building sense of momentum that keeps all the new information and the movement of characters flowing in the novel like they’re performing some great dance.
The thing that I absolutely adored about Kennel Club specifically, more than all the other books, was the sheer baddass attitude that Dale showed while she was in the middle of her worst nightmare. Her mate had just been sentenced to prison and she’s confronted by none other than Cecily Parish in the bathroom of the courthouse. It was a shining moment if I ever read one. I was at work when I said aloud, “Boom, wow! Get her Dale!” I don’t normally verbally react to books but this one I did.
Other than that the other thing that I really enjoyed was something that Cannon does well with this entire series. These are not romance books, they are detective books. But there is definitely romance. Cannon has a remarkable ability to show how much Ari and Dale mean to each other. Whether it’s in their everyday life, or with their individual actions and reactions with each other, they are real and deep and you can feel how solid they are as a couple. Cannon respects their relationship and almost demands the reader respect it as well with the love that is written on the page. There is no screwing around with breakups and such. They are everything to the other and I commend that.
No cons for Kennel Club! Well done Geonn.
I really liked all the side stories that were going on. This was an intricate frame job and a lot of different pieces were involved to make it work. Cannon does a great job keeping all the ducks in a row and making me say ooh, yeah. The characters were crisp, the plot was tight, and there were moments that actually surprised me. But it was also a detective novel and I’m really good at figuring out the who’s and the what’s so there were moments that didn’t surprise me. I suppose that’s why I don’t usually read detective novels but for Cannon’s Underdogs novels I’ll always make an exception.
Ari and Dale really are the underdogs and my favorite part about the books is the way they meet and conquer each new obstacle in their path. I adore the characters, their love for each other and their tenacity. I also love that Cannon’s world isn’t all about the typical urban fantasy pack drama. It’s about real life and Canidae are trying to survive like everyone else. It’s about Ari and Dale looking out for other underdogs like them.
Excerpt from Kennel Club by Geonn Cannon
Dale hated herself for retreating. The walk out of the courtroom made her feel like a coward, like she was turning her back on the woman she loved. But she knew Ari would need her to be strong and knew she wouldn’t be able to give her that. She didn’t want Ari to look to her and see devastation. It would shatter whatever resolve she had. So she hurried out into the hallway, one hand over her mouth to keep any sounds of distress from breaking free, and made a beeline for the ladies room.
The floor and half the wall were faux marble, with off-white tile stretching to the ceiling. Dale went to the sink and jabbed her hands under the faucet until it finally deigned to spray water into her palms. She let a small pool gather and then splashed it onto her face. She’d always scoffed when she saw people do that in movies, but it was better than just crying. And she had to admit, it felt pretty damn good. She did it again and pressed her fingertips against her eyelids.
A toilet flushed. Someone joined her at the sink, hands were washed.
“Are you okay, sweetie?”
“No,”Dale said, “but thank you.”
“Do you need–”
“No. It’s okay. Thank you.”
The woman left. Dale went to the paper towel dispenser and pulled one free, pressing it flat against her face. Her hands were trembling but at least she didn’t feel like she was about to start sobbing. She breathed in the dry, somehow scratchy odor of the towel and then lowered it. She looked in the mirror and saw that Cecily Parrish had silently entered the bathroom and was standing behind her.
“I realized,”Cecily said, as casual as if they were already deep in conversation, “that I’ve been giving Ariadne all the power in your relationship. I’ve been telling her to make choices which will affect you both. So in the interest of equality, I want to make you the same offer. I will free your girlfriend if she closes Bitches, breaks up with you, and comes to work for me.
”Dale kept looking at the mirror instead of the actual woman. “Oh. That makes sense.”
“I knew you would see reason.”
“I kept thinking, what could be worse than going to prison? Now I know. Working for you. That must suck, huh? Ari would rather go to jail than have you as a boss? I can’t say I blame her.”
Cecily stepped closer. “Miss Frye…”
Dale turned around. “You seem to think I’m a damsel in distress. That Ariadne is my superhero who has to swoop in and save me. You’re wrong. Ari is a wolf, but I’m a fighter. Especially when someone I love is in danger. Do you know how Ari and I met? Three kids were harassing her and I jumped in and scared them off. I did that. I saved her. Just like I’m going to save her now.”
“Are you going to kill me, Dale?” Cecily asked mockingly.
“You took everything away from me. Without Ari, without Bitches, I have nothing but time on my hands. You’re my life now, Cecily. I don’t think I could kill you. I’m just being realistic there. But I can certainly make your life hell. ‘Cause you know what you’ve never realized about our agency?” She leaned in close enough that Cecily’s perfume was almost overwhelming and lowered her voice. “Bitches is plural, you fucking cunt.”
She put her wet hands on Cecily’s shoulders and pushed her away. She stepped around her and left the bathroom, her sorrow and helplessness hardening into anger as she strolled back toward the courtroom where Gwen was waiting for her.
“Where did you go?” Gwen asked.
“I had to grow some ovaries. Is Ariadne still in there?”
Gwen shook her head. “They just took her.”
Dale slipped her arm around Gwen’s elbow. “Then let’s go. We have battle plans to draw up.”
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- ISBN number: 9781944591502
- Publisher: Supposed Crimes, LLC (July 1, 2018)
Geonn Cannon Online
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If you’re looking for that urban fantasy detective feel, try Witch Wolf by Winter Pennington (Kassandra Lyall Preternatural Investigator Series Book 1).
Note: I received a free review copy of Kennel Club by Geonn Cannon. No money was exchanged for this review. When you use our links to buy we get a small commission which supports the running of this site