Forge associate editor Kristin Sevick agrees with her colleagues when she says, "Readers are turning to dog books in droves, not just because they love dogs but because of the sense of peace the stories give them." She cautions, however, that real-life dog stories almost always have a sad ending—the main character's inevitable old age and death. As an antidote, Sevick recommends fiction about dogs, such as W. Bruce Cameron's A Dog's Purpose (Forge, July), which stars a pooch reincarnated through several lives. The book hit PW's bestseller list and has garnered enthusiastic reviews on several Web sites, including an average five-star rating on Amazon.com.
St. Martin's has high hopes for Gareth Crocker's Finding Jack (Feb.), about a reluctant soldier who rescues a wounded yellow Lab in Vietnam. Says editor Nichole Argyres, "Gareth's debut, about two friends who go to the ends of the earth to save each other, is so fierce and filled with love that it resonated with me instantly. That it's based on the actual history of war dogs in Vietnam made it unforgettable."
Coming in October from Everyman's Library is Dog Stories, edited by Diana Secker Tesdell, a small-format hardcover that collects 20 stories about canines by the likes of Mark Twain, Jonathan Lethem, and Patricia Highsmith. Also in October, Villard will publish Rose in a Storm, a novel told from a sheepdog's point of view by Jon Katz, whose many canine nonfiction works include The Dogs of Bedlam Farm, Dog Days, and A Good Dog. Senior editor Caitlin Alexander says, "A dog can be the ultimate fly on the wall—they observe our most important moments; we pour our hearts out to them and they listen. Who doesn't want to know what their dog is really thinking?"
Rita Mae Brown was ahead of the animal-fiction curve with her bestselling mystery series co-written with kitty Sneaky Pie Brown. The series has 3.6 million copies in print; the mass market editions sell approximately 6,700 copies per month. The 19th title, Hiss of Death, is due from Bantam in April. But Brown's jumping the fence: out this month from Ballantine is A Nose for Justice, the first in a parallel series with a canine sleuth—wire-haired dachshund Baxter.
Alexander hopes the success of the Sneaky Pie Brown series will be repeated with a recently acquired cat-point-of-view novel, Love Saves the Day by Gwen Cooper, the author of last year's bestselling cat memoir, Homer's Odyssey: A Fearless Feline Tale, or How I Learned About Love and Life with a Blind Wonder Cat (Bantam trade paperback, Sept.). "Cats have been a mainstay of cozy mysteries," says Alexander, "and we're betting they'll prove equally popular in general fiction."