Unleashed- Case of the Poodle Doodle * Erik Schubach

Finnegan Temperance McLeary-May, dog walker extraordinaire has had an eventful time in Manhattan since she first moved to New York City. Her unique profession and quirky, bubbly personality endear her to everyone who meets her.

Finnegan’s penchant for stumbling into misadventures is hard at work embroiling her in a case involving purloined art, graffiti, and an adorable but goofy, one year old poodle.

Fin and Jane have to juggle the monumental task of preparing their apartment for a future child while jumping through the hoops of the adoption process with three viable candidates for their love. All while dealing with a victim and his attacker whose roles are questioned by our intrepid dog walker.

Fin finds herself and her border collie, Sir Calvin Cornelius Fluffytoes at odds with her NYPD detective wife, when she befriends the most unlikely of people on her quest for answers.

This book introduces us to 11 year old Luce, one of the children Finn and Jane are considering adopting. We know she’s a front runner when Luce and Finn let Jane know she’s not looking at a plate of spaghetti, but at a Mandelbrot fractal. Cool!

I had tears in my eyes when Luce met Sir Calvin on a conference call. She’s a cool kid, and I can see why many people would be nervous adopting her (she’s on the spectrum), and also I can see why Finn and Jane would be perfect for her….except. The “except” part is based on ages. Finn, I think is perhaps 26yo, and Jane, perhaps 27yo. That would put an 11yo child as maybe 15-16 years their junior. Now, clearly, it’s not that Finn and Jane are going to be parents at ages 15/16, but it did feel odd. During their conversations, Finn, Jane and Luce almost sounded more sisterly than potentially moms and daughter. The teen years are filled with uncertainty and angst in the best of times; guiding a daughter through those years while still in mid-twenties just felt, odd. I found myself wishing Erik had made Luce 7 or 8 yo; still too old, and on the spectrum, for many potential parents….but with a few more years enough to create more of a parent-child relationship than the sisterly feelings it felt like.

With those comments made….I really really enjoyed the story of Finn and Jane searching for a child, and finding Luce. Floof the poodle (the title is poodle doodle, but the story indicates Floof is a standard poodle, not a doodle. Plus, the cover photo doesn’t look like standard poodle. Yeah, I know….I’m still obsessing over Erik not actually using a labradoodle!) plays a minor role compared with Luce.

BTW, I admire Erik for his including PTSD problems of veterans, but I think Erik’s continuing to mix “emotional support dogs” with “service dogs”. They are very, VERY!, distinct. A “service dog” may be brought onto airplanes, into restaurants, into stores, and into National Parks. An “emotional support dog”, while very helpful to their owners, is not the same, and cannot be brought anywhere that any other family pet is not allowed.

So, as with book 5, I’m thrilled that Erik is continuing the series (I’d thought he might have ended it a year ago with book 4), and I enjoyed the audiobook very much. While I don’t need Finn to be put in mortal danger with each episode, I do hope future books have a stronger mystery!

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