Anthologies are always a mixed bag. Which is probably why they're so appealing. They're great for when you're not up to concentrating on a full-length story, or only have little bits of reading time available, for whatever reason. Generally speaking, they almost always introduce you to a new author or two. It's hardly surprising then, that they get such mixed reviews. Hardly anyone ever likes every single story equally. As it happens, I've read two anthologies in a row, and while they're vastly different from each other (the other one has three stories by a single author) there are still some similarities between them.
The theme here is dogs in various capacities--working dogs or just pets. I'm not sure I've previously read anything by Virginia Lanier or Chassie West. However, nothing in either story would keep me from reading them in the future. Lanier certainly knew her beans when it came to bloodhounds and their unique capabilities, which she displays to good effect in "Red Shirt and Black Jacket". Jo Beth Sidden is one tough and very enjoyable lady, as she finds the bad guy with the help of her super canine snoop.
Chassie West's "Nightmare in Nowhere" was a bit out there, and I found it hard to follow at times. Duke is a good ol' boy in the form of a German shepherd who isn't yet ready to retire as a rescue dog, in spite of what his humans seem to think. A.J.'s amnesia is presented in a very factual way, as is the recovery of her memory in little bits and pieces. Sure seemed realistic to me!
I have read most of Lee Charles Kelley's books, but this cleverly titled short story "The French Poodle Connection" didn't really do it for me. The dog--a yappy toy poodle--was certainly portrayed accurately. Trouble is, this story didn't need a dog. It would have been a perfectly fine story even without the poodle. But, of course, that wouldn't work because he writes dog books. The story certainly had enough twists and turns to satisfy anyone wanting to know whodunnit or why.
My absolute favorite of the batch was "The Case of the London Cabbie" by J.A. Jance. The fact that the heroine is a lady of a certain age didn't hurt! 70-something Maddy Watkins and her two golden retrievers use their combined brains to win the battle against the brawn on the bad guys, in this engaging tale of sisters who need each other more than they thought they did. I'd love to read a full-length book about Maddy and her `girls'. I can't help but think others would too!