Get Lost in a Cozy Mystery! Hounds Abound

Hounds Abound
Linda O. Johnston
Berkley Prime Crime

I love the name of this blog: Get Lost in a Story. That’s exactly what I do, and probably a lot of other writers as well. And, yes, we hope our readers do, too

How do I get lost in my stories? Well, for one thing I write about things I’m passionate about.  These days, that mostly includes animals.  My current cozy mystery series for Berkley Prime Crime is the Pet Rescue Mysteries, a spinoff from my Kendra Ballantyne, Pet-Sitter Mysteries. It features Lauren Vancouver, a dedicated animal rescuer who runs HotRescues, a private no-kill shelter in LA’s San Fernando Valley. In the Pet Rescue Mysteries, animals may start off in dangerous situations, but they’re always saved.  Not so for all people.  It is a cozy mystery series, after all. In the Pet Rescue Mysteries, “no-kill” means pets, not people!

So far, there are three Pet Rescue Mysteries in the series, with more to come. I didn’t know where the stories might lead me when I started them with BEAGLEMANIA. That one featured a rescue from a puppy mill. The second, THE MORE THE TERRIER, dealt with an animal hoarder.

My new Pet Rescue Mystery HOUNDS ABOUND, the third in the series, revolves around a very special pet sanctuary, one where hard-to-adopt pets go to seek wonderful forever homes, but if none is forthcoming those senior or disabled animals can live out their natural lives in wonderful and loving surroundings.
Do such places exist? Yes! I first heard of a local one near Los Angeles when I was in a local boutique grocery store and one of the people handing out food samples happened to mention it. Of course my Pet Rescue Mystery mind started focusing on it, I did some research, and the result was HOUNDS ABOUND.
Since then, I’ve heard of other wonderful sanctuaries like that. I volunteer as a dog adoption counselor at a caring, real shelter called Pet Orphans of Southern California.  Occasionally, a pet there has behavior or other issues that make it so difficult to adopt that it is taken lovingly to a new home--a sanctuary where it can live out its days with lots of wonderful care. 

Of course, in my story there is conflict... and a murder. Lauren has to figure out whodunit when her new friend, who owns the sanctuary, is the main suspect.
One thing I’m particularly exited--and passionate--about at the moment is that I’m participating in a very real program: Read Humane™.  Berkley Prime Crime is an imprint of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.  Penguin has made a substantial donation to the Humane Society of The United States® in support of its Animal Rescue Team, and is also shipping 50,000 books starring furry friends, both dogs and cats, which encourage readers to learn more and donate to the Humane Society and its Animal Rescue Team. Besides me, participating authors include Rebecca M. Hale, Alison Pace, Miranda James and Sofie Kelly--and I’m especially excited to report that the Read Humane spokesperson is Nora Roberts.

In addition to my Pet Rescue Mysteries, I write romances for two Harlequin series. My Harlequin Nocturnes are mostly a paranormal romance miniseries called Alpha Force, about a highly covert military unit of shapeshifters. Can I get lost in those stories?  Of course!  It’s fun to imagine what shapeshifters could do and feel and say. I’ve also created my own world of shapeshifters with, perhaps, different rules from those that other authors write about.

Then there’s my first Harlequin Romantic Suspense, UNDERCOVER SOLDIER, which will be a July 2012 release. Its plot is very loosely based on a mystery in my own life, and that is where the idea originated.  So, yes, I got lost in that story, too.

Linda O. Johnston’s first published fiction appeared in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine and won the Robert L. Fish Memorial Award for Best First Mystery Short Story of the Year. Since then, she has had had more short stories published, plus several novellas, and thirty novels including mystery and romance.  

Her Pet Rescue Mystery series for Berkley Prime Crime is a spinoff from her Kendra Ballantyne, Pet-Sitter mystery series. The Pet Rescue Mysteries debuted in March 2011 with BEAGLEMANIA and continued with THE MORE THE TERRIER, an October 2011 release and HOUNDS ABOUND, published in April 2012. Protagonist Lauren Vancouver runs a no-kill pet shelter in LA’s San Fernando Valley and will do anything to save animals. In the Pet Rescue Mysteries, “no-kill” means pets, not people!

Linda also writes paranormal romance for Harlequin Nocturne including the Alpha Force miniseries about a covert military unit of shapeshifters. Her first Harlequin Romantic Suspense novel, UNDERCOVER SOLDIER, will be a July 2012 release.

Commenters: How about you--what leads you to get lost in a story?

Visit Linda anytime at www.LindaOJohnston.com.  She blogs each Wednesday at KillerHobbies.blogspot.com and you can also find her on Facebook.  


  1. Welcome to GLIAS Linda! Loved your post!

    Can't get lost too much today. My husband and I picked up our third adopted/rescued puppy yesterday. Tex is an 8-mnth solid black Lab. And I have to get things done around here to go pick up Dallas, an 8 wk solid black Lab.

    Have fun today...I know I'm going to be exhausted (especially since were dog sitting my daughter's adopted 2 yr Black Mouth Cur who loves the company and playtime in the yard.


  2. Hi Linda!

    Love both the theme and the sentiment behind the doggie cozy mystery series! Plus your volunteer work at the animal shelter sounds so rewarding!

  3. Congratulations, Angi, and hugs to Tex and Dallas and the other pup, too!

    Thanks, Gjillian. I enjoy it all.

  4. Hi Linda,

    I would love to get lost in any of your books. I love doggie and kitty mysteries. And your titles are so clever.