cover image A Dog's Life

A Dog's Life

Gerald Hammond, Severn, $27.95 (192p) ISBN 978-0-7278-6962-3

Scottish veteran Hammond (Silent Intruder) offers an intriguing premise in this enjoyable cozy. Author Tim Russell, who's living alone in a small village on Scotland's east coast, encounters 17-year-old Ann Erskine, who's been living rough in the woods—and who turns out to be the daughter, though Tim doesn't recognize her at first, of Walter Erskine, an old friend who died in an accident. Impulsively, Tim asks Ann to his home despite misgivings, and Ann, despite misgivings, accepts his invitation. Complications soon follow as a change in Ann's fortunes brings her mother (now Mrs. Hooper); her stepfather, Mr. Hooper; the dodgy Rev. Mr. Downing; and a shifty secondhand dealer known as Woodworm Waller onto the scene. An unknown assailant puts Tim in the hospital with a severe head wound and no memory of the attack. Hammond avoids the maudlin as Tim and Ann grow closer while trying to solve the crime with the aid of Det. Sgt. Brionie Phelps. (Feb.) Jane G oes Batty Michael Thomas Ford Ballantine, $14 trade paper (304p) ISBN 978-0-345-51366-3 Ford takes Jane Austen—modern-day novelist, upstate New York bookseller, and vampire—on a wild and campy romp in this frothy sequel to 2009's Jane Bites Back. As Jane considers converting to Judaism to keep the love of her life, she must deal with a less than sparkling new editor, who wants her manuscript posthaste, and flatter (or at least not antagonize) Beverly Shrop, the romance blogger whose review could kill Jane's career. Jane also stumbles over her relative lack of vampire skills (despite nearly 200 years of being undead); a movie crew, come to shoot footage for the film of her bestselling romance novel; and a mysterious murder. Ford keeps the laughs coming and the dialogue snappy, mostly veiling the novel's almost complete lack of substance. (Feb.)