Thursday, March 28, 2019

Ruff vs. Fluff (Queenie & Arthur #1)

Quinn, Spencer. Ruff vs. Fluff (Queenie & Arthur #1)
March 26th 2019 by Scholastic Press
E ARC from Edelweiss Plus

Arthur, an enthusiastic but somewhat misguided mixed breed dog, and Queenie, a particular and discerning cat, both live with their humans at the Blackberry Hill Inn, which is near some mountains (in Maine?). Harmony and Bro are the children who play hockey, and Mom runs the bed and breakfast. When a gues, Mr. LeMaire wants to hike the Sokoki Trail, he wants to hire the children's cousin Matty for twice the going rate, but he is busy. Instead, he hires the children, and insists that they return after they get him to the trailhead. When he doesn't return, their mother is concerned until she gets a text that he was called away on business, and that someone will call to pick up his luggage. This seems somewhat suspicious, and when Harmony has a bad day at hockey with a teammate, she takes Arthur on a hike... and discovers LeMaire's body in a cave. Matty is in the area cleaning brush, and the two called sheriff Hunziger and his deputy Carstairs. Hunziger is an idiot, and before long is accusing Matty of the murder. Matty runs off and Arthur takes a bite at Hunziger, prompting his removal by the local animal authorities for a while. There are some odd documents in LeMaire's room, and the woman who picks up his things acts oddly, so Harmony starts investigating. Hunziger is sure that the murder was motivated by a hunt for artifacts, but the evidence suggests more of a connection with moonshine running at the time of Prohibition, and secrets about local families start to surface.
Strengths: This is a murder mystery, and my students are ALWAYS asking for murder mysteries. The connection to rum running and Prohibition was fascinating. I also enjoyed Harmony's passion for hockey, and the fact that a teammate who gave her grief was reprimanded by his father and made to apologize was great. Readers who like books from animals' perspective will enjoy Queenie and Arthur's take on things, as well as their love for sausage. The Bowser and Birdie  books do well in my library.
Weaknesses: I wasn't a fan of Sheriff Hunziger, Bro, and Arthur all be depicted as not very bright. One character, maybe, but this made me suspect something bad in the water. Hunziger is just evil, but Bro sounds like he might need some intervention.
What I really think: This was about 100 pages longer than my students prefer, and if the book had been from Harmony's perspective instead of both pets, it would have moved along a lot more quickly. However, I understand that talking animals are a personal pet peeve, and that students often enjoy these books more than I do, so I will purchase this title.

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