Sunday, May 29, 2011

A Pug's Tale by Alison Pace

 From Goodreads:
There are pugs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art!

Hope McNeill has worked at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for years, but this is the first time she's been able to bring along her pug, Max. (Officially at least. Previously she's had to smuggle him in inside her tote bag.)

The occasion: a special "Pug Night" party in honor of a deep-pocketed donor. Max and his friends are having a ball stalking the hors d'oeuvres and getting rambunctious, and making Hope wonder if this is also the last time she gets to bring Max to the museum.

But when a prized painting goes missing, the Met needs Hope's--and Max's--help. In her quest for the culprit, Hope searches for answers with an enigmatic detective, a larger-than-life society heiress, a lady with a shih tzu in a stroller, and her arguably intuitive canine. With luck, she'll find some inspiration on her trips to Pug Hill before the investigation starts going downhill.

This is by far Alison Pace's best book to-date. Her quick wit and penchant for writing humorous tales revolving around dogs and art have come together in this magnum opus. 

While I loved and adored Pug Hill, what left me wanting more from that story was that the pugs of Pug Hill were not in it enough. A Pug's Tale most certainly remedies the problem of not enough pugs. While Hope is the protagonist of this story, her pug Max is most certainly the star, for without Max, it would be impossible for her to solve the strange mystery of the Fantin-Latour painting that has gone missing from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

And what Pace has mastered so beautifully is her ability to make a non-talking, non-narrating dog feel like a real character. Max is just a dog in this book. He has no special powers (well, other than intuitiveness) and yet, there would be no book without Max. I don't think I've ever read an author describe the mannerisms and spirit of a pug so deftly as Alison Pace has. The whole book is full of perfectly pugnacious passages like this:

Max, who'd been completely quiet, obedient, docile even, for the duration of my phone call with Ben, twirled his head around like an owl and looked up at me with great urgency. His eyes were extra large, his gaze intense. His tongue lolled out the side of his mouth as he made a quick slurping noise. With a few grunting pants, he whipped his head toward the corner of the studio, hoisted himself up, and, like a bullet, took off, gasping, snorting, wheezing across the room. I will admit that my first thought was not about the art. My first thought was that I was worried about Max's ability to breathe. (20)

There are so many different hats this book can wear for different types of book-lovers. If you love mysteries, you'll love this book. If you love chick lit, you'll love this book. If you love dog books, you'll love this book. If you love New York City, you'll love this book. Heck, if you loved From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler as a kid, you'll love this book as a grown-up. Just go out and read it.  More than likely it will appeal to who you are as a reader because there are so many different types of readers it will appeal to.

A Pug's Tale by Alison Pace
Publish Date: June 7, 2011 by Berkley Trade
Pages: 289
Genre: Mystery
Audience: Adults

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