The first book introducing loveable dog detective Monty!
You might think that dogs can’t understand us…but you’d be wrong.
Apart from an obsession with cheese, Monty is a perfectly rational animal. So when his beloved master is stabbed to death, Monty decides to use his formidable nose to track the killer down.
Luckily he manages to find a home with Rose Sidebottom, the young policewoman who’s investigating the case. But with her colleagues turning against her, and the wrong man collared, she’s going to need a little help…
Thanks for having me on your blog. I’d like to tell you about the inspiration for The Monty And Sidebottom Mysteries.
It won’t come as any surprise that I have a dog, a Golden Retriever named Pickles. Why Pickles? Because when we chose him from the litter he was the biggest and the naughtiest puppy and spent the whole time chasing the tails of the others. We knew then that he’d get into all sorts of pickles! Pickles’ inquisitive nature, super-sniffer of a nose, his obsession with food and his love of fishing, have most certainly inspired the character of Monty in Monty And Me. The more I watched Pickles, the more I realised that dogs know way more than we give them credit for, and can be trained to do truly incredible things. Just think about Guide Dogs and bomb detector dogs. The Golden Retriever in Monty And Me is truly exceptional: he understands what we say, even if he does get muddled on the meaning sometimes, and he can read and use a computer. But Monty also relies on wee-mails for information on the dog-vine, as well as using his formidable nose to track down the killer.
I decided to write Monty And Me primarily from the view point of the dog, although Rose Sidebottom, the junior detective, is a very important secondary narrator and the other half of the crime busting duo. It was great fun both researching and imagining how a dog views and interprets the world. Much of the humour and pathos is based on Monty’s misunderstanding of conversations and human behaviour. He takes things literally so when he first hears Rose’s mum oink down the phone, he assumes her mother is a pig. He doesn’t realise it’s meant to be an insult. There are some things about big’uns (dog-speak for people) Monty can’t make sense of, such as human tears, but he does understand grief. He is grieving for his murdered master. Monty is a loving dog and very attuned to Rose’s emotions so tries to comfort her when she’s unhappy.
Getting the dog’s voice right was really important. It needed to be credible and to make sense to people who know dogs: their facial expressions, mannerisms, the sounds they make in different situations and so on. I wanted Monty to be a very clever dog but quite humble and lacking in confidence in his abilities. Despite the brutal attack on him and his master at the start of the book, I he’s a positive and enthusiastic dog with endearing habits, such as his weakness for cheese and his gentleness with other creatures. He is without doubt incredibly loyal and heroic and I hope readers love him as much as I have loved creating him.
The character of Rose Sidebottom is entirely fictional, as are all the detectives in the novel. But to create an intriguing and believable murder mystery I needed to be sure of police procedures and terminology. I am very lucky to have retired Detective Chief Superintendent, David Gaylor, advising me on policing matters. I wanted Rose to be young, riddled with self-doubt, and in trouble right from the start: she’s messed up her career, her DI hates her, she can’t afford to repair Duckdown Cottage, the crumbling house she’s inherited, and she has no idea that Malcolm, the vet, fancies her. Enter Monty, the dog that she adopts. Monty will change her life over the series of books, and together they will become a formidable crime-busting team. Watch this space!
I don’t want to give too much away about the plot, but I think it’s safe to say that the murder victim is a professor who was researching the dramatic global decline of the honey bee. Why does this matter? I was visiting a friend in Ireland a few years ago and we visited a bee keeper. He explained that honey bees are being overwhelmed by the varroa mite and whole hives are being decimated. It’s so bad in the USA that hives are put on trains and transported to areas where bees have died out. This is done so that flowering crops can be pollinated. Experts are trying to discover how to save the honey bee and somebody is going to make a lot of money if they find a solution. This theme underpins the plot for Monty And Me.
Thanks for having me on your blog. It’s been fun! Woof! To stay in touch with Monty, please go to:
‘Did he at least say anything that could help us find him?’
‘He was on the phone when I got back from the loo. He ended the call when he saw me, but I heard him say something about a shipment. That it had to be stopped. Then he made his excuses and left in a hurry. I didn’t put two and two together until Meg came over and gave me an ear-bashing.’
Leach had his hands clasped together on the desk so tightly that his puffy knuckles turned purple.
‘So, the Super chews my ear off, Morgan wants you back on the beat, and God knows what your team will think of you. Great result!’ He threw his weight into the back of his chair. The bags under his eyes were darker and puffier than usual. She felt sorry for him. ‘If your colleagues don’t trust you, you’re no use to them or me. You need to fix this. Start by apologising to Morgan and don’t put a foot wrong on the Salt case, you
Leach placed his hands behind his head and studied her flushed face.
‘Rose, are you sure you really want to do this job?’ His voice had softened. ‘We get to see people at their worst. Doing terrible things. Murder, torture, abuse. It’s long hours, the public and the media generally hate us, and it’s hard on relationships.’
Rose glanced at his ring finger where a wedding band had once been, leaving a permanent dent in his pudgy skin.
‘Yes, sir.’ She looked straight into his eyes. ‘I’ve always wanted to be a detective.’
Leach tilted his head to one side. ‘God, you remind me of Kay when she was your age. Stubborn and naïve.’ He smiled, which was rare and therefore unnerving. His teeth were surprisingly small for such a large head. Like baby teeth. ‘She found it tough going at first, you know. She was sensitive, found the blood and guts hard to deal with. But she was dogged. Wouldn’t give up. Became the best DI I’ve ever known.’
‘I want to be like Kay, sir. I know I can do it.’
Leach nodded as he stood. ‘Maybe. But this is a big cock-up, Rose. I’m increasing your supervision and assigning you to an experienced DI . . .’
Opening his office door, Leach beckoned Dave Pearl inside.
A slick dresser, fancied by most of the female officers and popular with the lads, he sauntered into the office as if it were his own.
‘Dave is your new mentor.’
Just when Rose thought it couldn’t get any worse, it just did. Dave’s tanned forehead creased into a frown as his eyes the colour of tarnished silver, looked down at her with contempt.
‘All right with you, Dave?’ asked Leach.
When Pearl realised he was being watched, he produced an affable smile. ‘Of course, boss.’
‘You do what Dave asks and nothing more, you got that?’ said Leach, picking up his coat. ‘Right, I’m off.’
He strode out, leaving Rose alone with Pearl. Pearl’s smile vanished.
‘Well, well, so the chosen one’s fallen from grace,’ he mocked.
Despite being almost a foot shorter, she squared up to him. ‘Guv, I’m very sorry about what’s happened and I’m going to work extra hard on the Salt case. I know I’ve got a lot to do to win back people’s respect.’
He shook his head. ‘You know, I just don’t think it’s going to be that easy. I mean, who’s going to want to work with you after this?’
‘If you give me a chance, the others will follow, sir.’
Pearl leaned closer. ‘You’re not up to the job. Never were.’
‘I know what this is really about. Just because I didn’t want to go for a drink with you . . .’
‘You’ve got it all wrong, lady. Why would I want to go out with someone who drops her knickers for a drugs trafficker?’
She balled her hand into a fist but punching him would instantly end her career.
‘How dare you!’
‘Just because you’re Kay Lloyd’s niece, doesn’t mean you’ve got any talent. Remember that.’
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