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The White Shepherd: A dog mystery set in Oxford

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First in the brand-new Anna Hopkins dogwalking mystery series: an intriguing new departure for award-winning YA writer Annie Dalton. Anna Hopkins’ daily walk through Oxford’s picturesque Port Meadow is rudely interrupted one autumn morning when her white German Shepherd, Bonnie, unearths a bloodsoaked body in the undergrowth. For Anna it’s a double shock: she’d met the First in the brand-new Anna Hopkins dogwalking mystery series: an intriguing new departure for award-winning YA writer Annie Dalton. Anna Hopkins’ daily walk through Oxford’s picturesque Port Meadow is rudely interrupted one autumn morning when her white German Shepherd, Bonnie, unearths a bloodsoaked body in the undergrowth. For Anna it’s a double shock: she’d met the victim previously. Naomi Evans was a professional researcher who had told Anna she was working on a book about a famous Welsh poet, and who offered to help Anna trace Bonnie’s original owner. From her conversations with Naomi, Anna is convinced that she was not the random victim of a psychopathic serial killer, as the police believe. She was targeted because of what she knew. With the official investigation heading in the wrong direction entirely, Anna teams up with fellow dogwalkers Isadora Salzman and Tansy Lavelle to discover the truth.


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First in the brand-new Anna Hopkins dogwalking mystery series: an intriguing new departure for award-winning YA writer Annie Dalton. Anna Hopkins’ daily walk through Oxford’s picturesque Port Meadow is rudely interrupted one autumn morning when her white German Shepherd, Bonnie, unearths a bloodsoaked body in the undergrowth. For Anna it’s a double shock: she’d met the First in the brand-new Anna Hopkins dogwalking mystery series: an intriguing new departure for award-winning YA writer Annie Dalton. Anna Hopkins’ daily walk through Oxford’s picturesque Port Meadow is rudely interrupted one autumn morning when her white German Shepherd, Bonnie, unearths a bloodsoaked body in the undergrowth. For Anna it’s a double shock: she’d met the victim previously. Naomi Evans was a professional researcher who had told Anna she was working on a book about a famous Welsh poet, and who offered to help Anna trace Bonnie’s original owner. From her conversations with Naomi, Anna is convinced that she was not the random victim of a psychopathic serial killer, as the police believe. She was targeted because of what she knew. With the official investigation heading in the wrong direction entirely, Anna teams up with fellow dogwalkers Isadora Salzman and Tansy Lavelle to discover the truth.

30 review for The White Shepherd: A dog mystery set in Oxford

  1. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn

    Not quite cosy enough to be a cosy mystery (perhaps a cosy thriller?) this was an interesting mystery involving three dog owning ladies who discover the body of a young woman on their morning walk. Anna, the main character and owner of the white Shepherd is trying to get over her traumatic past and had recently moved back to Oxford. She had spoken to Naomi, the young murder victim previously in the park and was supposed to be meeting her for coffee that morning. Following the murder, the three w Not quite cosy enough to be a cosy mystery (perhaps a cosy thriller?) this was an interesting mystery involving three dog owning ladies who discover the body of a young woman on their morning walk. Anna, the main character and owner of the white Shepherd is trying to get over her traumatic past and had recently moved back to Oxford. She had spoken to Naomi, the young murder victim previously in the park and was supposed to be meeting her for coffee that morning. Following the murder, the three women decide to meet up again and start looking into what might have lead to Naomi's death. What follows is lots of intrigue, a few false trails, some old grievances and acts of love and revenge. The action was a little slow in the middle but generally well written and interesting. I didn't really get a good feel for Anna's personality but maybe that will improve in the sequel and I would liked to have seen more of Bonnie, the white Shepherd. 3.5★

  2. 4 out of 5

    Fictionophile

    Anna Hopkins is in her early thirties and lives alone in an imposing house in Oxford that was once owned by her grandparents. During her teenage years she suffered from an unspeakable family tragedy, and her entire life is irrevocably changed as a result. “…everyone she’d ever cared about ended up dead.” She has no one in her life now except for her aging grandfather (whom she adores), and who lives in a care home nearby. She decides to get a rescue dog for companionship and immediately falls in lo Anna Hopkins is in her early thirties and lives alone in an imposing house in Oxford that was once owned by her grandparents. During her teenage years she suffered from an unspeakable family tragedy, and her entire life is irrevocably changed as a result. “…everyone she’d ever cared about ended up dead.” She has no one in her life now except for her aging grandfather (whom she adores), and who lives in a care home nearby. She decides to get a rescue dog for companionship and immediately falls in love with an intelligent white shepherd. The shepherd, Bonnie, once belonged to an elderly lady who has passed away, so the dog was sent to the pound. As is the case with countless murder mysteries, it is when Anna is walking Bonnie in Port Meadow, a nearby park, that she finds a dead body. Only this body is a young woman that Anna had met before… a woman of charm and integrity that she felt she could have become friends with. Her name was Naomi Evans. She was a professional researcher. Two other women, also walking dogs, come to Anna’s aid and stay with her until the police arrive. These women, Isadora who is getting on in years, and Tansy, still ridiculously young, will become loyal and steadfast friends to Anna. Friends are a new phenomenon for Anna as previously she has never let herself be open to friendship. Since other young women have come to a similar fate in the Oxford area, the police seem to think that Naomi’s murder was at the hands of a serial killer. Anna, and her two new friends Tansy and Isadora, have increasing reason to believe otherwise. Anna finds a message on her phone from Naomi. Apparently she had left the message before going out for the last time… It would seem that Naomi researched Anna’s dog’s previous owners. She found that before Bonnie lived with the old lady, she had once belonged to an American soldier who served in Afghanistan. She gave Anna contact details, and Anna meets the man and learns more of Bonnie’s history. She also finds herself unmistakably attracted to this charming man with the southern drawl. I loved the setting. Beautiful Oxford, absolutely steeped in history, yet “The White Shepherd” was a thoroughly modern murder mystery – complete with Google and iPads. I confess that I’ve had this novel on my Kindle TBR for some time. Since it was touted as being “an Oxford dog walker’s mystery“, I mistakenly thought it was a mystery of the ‘cozy’ variety. Though it did have elements of a ‘cozy’, (eg. amateur detectives), I can categorically state that it is not. The plot was well rendered, and well thought out. As with most murder mysteries, the motive was divulged in increments, revealing secrets about how someone would do anything to keep certain facts from coming to light. The characterization was fully-developed and I found myself liking Anna Hopkins (and Bonnie) very much. “Family secrets are like splinters. Sooner or later they work their way out.” In addition to its qualities as a mystery story, “The White Shepherd” also addresses how a singular event can act as a catalyst to change lives. The only thing that I was disappointed in was the fact that the perpetrators of Anna’s original family tragedy were never brought to justice… The ending of “The White Shepherd” forms an excellent segue to the next titles in the series. I’m convinced that this series will be appreciated by all mystery lovers, and dog lovers. The setting will appeal to all Anglophile readers. I received a digital copy of this novel from the publishers, Severn House via NetGalley. "Written in red", the follow-up to “The White Shepherd” is now available and I am anxious to read it. (Sadly, it is no longer available on NetGalley…)

  3. 4 out of 5

    Janet

    Dalton creates incredibly detailed backgrounds for all her characters and makes sure they have their faults and traumas as well as virtues. It was oddly refreshing to read about such a collection of flawed humans.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Pat

    The story is okay, nothing new. I picked this up because it was advertised at Amazon as a dogwalker's mystery, comparable to Susan Conant's Doglovers mystery. But this isn't a dog related mystery. It's just a mystery with a dog in the story, but in a very peripheral and generally absent role. The prolonged sections of the book where the dog has no presence irritated me, because that's not how it was advertised. Also, the author forgets the dog entirely at times - for example, she's out with the The story is okay, nothing new. I picked this up because it was advertised at Amazon as a dogwalker's mystery, comparable to Susan Conant's Doglovers mystery. But this isn't a dog related mystery. It's just a mystery with a dog in the story, but in a very peripheral and generally absent role. The prolonged sections of the book where the dog has no presence irritated me, because that's not how it was advertised. Also, the author forgets the dog entirely at times - for example, she's out with the dog's original (stereotypically hunky) former owner. The dog ecstatically greets her long lost owner in the park. The dog has clearly been traumatized by the owner's absence; the present owner internal monologue is that she's guilty and somewhat jealous. Then the whole thing is dropped as the author has her go out to dinner with hunky love interest with no mention of the dog. What happened to the shepherd that was with them? Did they leave it in the car, put it in her handbag? When the former owner leaves there is not one word about how the dog takes the former owner's leaving. Why make such a point of this dog's attachment, the original owner's attachment and sense of loss, the present owner's tacit jealousy and then ignore this after setting up this scenario as they leave and meet and leave again. This is a disservice to dogs and a turnoff for real dog (and Shepherd owners) who know these dogs don't forget and really do attach. After that the mystery goes on with even less dog presence. I'm disappointed in this as a dog related mystery. There are thousands of cozy mysteries with hunky love interests and picturesque settings. If I pick up and pay for a mystery that advertises itself as a dog related mystery, comparable to the dog lover's mysteries of Susan Conant, then I expect a writer who actually has a dog themselves. One who remembers that once you introduce a dog as a main character in the first chapter or two, enough that you name the book after it, you don't forget it and its needs and presence as a character as consistently as this author and her protagonist does. That as a writer you don't just write human characters (somewhat stereotypically as hunky love interest is) but have some understanding for the canine character you are using. If you use a dog as a hook to attract readers, then have some understanding of dogs. The dog here, after a promising setup, then becomes a placeholder of a character, cardboard and often forgotten. I was considering whether I would buy the next volume in the series. But for a dog mystery it doesn't have enough dog for me, and the author doesn't seem able to write dogs any better than people. And as a mystery, it's just average. I'd give it three stars, but my annoyance over paying for a dog mystery and not getting one makes me drop it to 2.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Crittermom

    The White Shepherd is a superb thriller, set against the picturesque backdrop of Oxford. Unlike the majority of Annie Dalton’s novels, The White Shepherd is written for adult lovers of mystery and suspense (and dog lovers). Anna Hopkins is a woman haunted by past tragedy. Her sole close companion is her beloved white German Shepherd, Bonnie. It comes as a shock when Bonnie discovers the mutilated body of a young woman in the park, a researcher Anna had met previously. Two other dog-walkers arriv The White Shepherd is a superb thriller, set against the picturesque backdrop of Oxford. Unlike the majority of Annie Dalton’s novels, The White Shepherd is written for adult lovers of mystery and suspense (and dog lovers). Anna Hopkins is a woman haunted by past tragedy. Her sole close companion is her beloved white German Shepherd, Bonnie. It comes as a shock when Bonnie discovers the mutilated body of a young woman in the park, a researcher Anna had met previously. Two other dog-walkers arrive at the same time Anna does, and the three form a friendship. As it becomes clear that the police are looking in the wrong direction and are uninterested in Anna’s suspicions, she takes it on herself to discover the truth with Isadora and Tansy. Was Naomi the victim of a serial killer, or was her death linked to the research she was doing on a famous Oxford poet and his family? As Anna probes for the truth, she begins to open up again and start trusting. But will she trust the wrong person? The White Shepherd is as much about Anna’s rediscovery of herself as it is a murder mystery. Dalton’s novel is a fine example of character driven mystery, filled with unique, well developed individuals. The beauty and distinct culture of Oxford is a wonderful setting. The White Shepherd is a wonderful choice for dog lovers and mystery lovers alike. I look forward to reading more mysteries featuring Anna Hopkins and Bonnie. 5/5 The White Shepherd is the first in the Anna Hopkins dogwalking mystery series. The novel is available for preorder and will be released October 1, 2015 I received a copy of The White Shepherd from the publisher and netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review. —Crittermom Oxford comes alive in Annie Dalton’s The White Shepherd http://muttcafe.com/2015/07/the-white...

  6. 4 out of 5

    Bonnie Schroeder

    One would think, in a novel titled The White Shepherd, that a dog might have a pivotal part in the story. Not so with this mystery, unfortunately. There is a white German shepherd in a supporting role, but she’s there as more of a device to cause other plot elements to occur. This would not be a major flaw if it weren’t for the misleading title. The mystery itself is fairly well crafted, although I guessed the Big Reveal early on. The plot has a good amount of twists, turns and surprises and som One would think, in a novel titled The White Shepherd, that a dog might have a pivotal part in the story. Not so with this mystery, unfortunately. There is a white German shepherd in a supporting role, but she’s there as more of a device to cause other plot elements to occur. This would not be a major flaw if it weren’t for the misleading title. The mystery itself is fairly well crafted, although I guessed the Big Reveal early on. The plot has a good amount of twists, turns and surprises and some of the characters are vividly portrayed. The protagonist, however—Anna Hopkins—has a Damaged Past that she clings to most stubbornly, impairing her ability to bond with other people. She rescues Bonnie, the White Shepherd of the title, in the hopes of gaining comfort and companionship, but during the course of the novel she pretty much abandons the dog except when it suits her, or serves the plot. Murders occur and Anna, despite her presumed inability to make friends, takes on a crusade to solve one or two of them, leading her into jeopardy that any attentive reader will see coming. There are several digressions and side trips that slow down the action, and many times Anna engages in too much soul-searching and self-questioning without achieving a shred of enlightenment. The ending, however, is fairly suspenseful and satisfying and doesn’t leave the reader with a feeling of having been tricked or cheated.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Clare O'Beara

    This is a chiller set among the colleges of Oxford, in which our heroine works. Walking her white GSD rescue dog one morning, Anna Hopkins is led by her dog to a murdered young woman. Two other dog walkers come to her aid, and when the police lump the death in with a serial attacker of women's victims, but Annie is certain that there is more to it, they work on the puzzle. A dangerous puzzle as it turns out... even here some people are willing to go to any lengths to protect their interests. Cha This is a chiller set among the colleges of Oxford, in which our heroine works. Walking her white GSD rescue dog one morning, Anna Hopkins is led by her dog to a murdered young woman. Two other dog walkers come to her aid, and when the police lump the death in with a serial attacker of women's victims, but Annie is certain that there is more to it, they work on the puzzle. A dangerous puzzle as it turns out... even here some people are willing to go to any lengths to protect their interests. Characters are all important with pompous or arty types mingling with practical café staff and a US navy veteran. The dog Molly is also well drawn and well behaved. The city is itself a character of course, familiar to readers of the Morse books with an updated feel. I'm looking forward to more in this interesting series.

  8. 4 out of 5

    PopcornReads - MkNoah

    Award-winning author Annie Dalton is best known for her popular children’s and YA novels that include the very popular Agent Angel a.k.a. Angel Academy YA series. Luckily for us she’s decided to branch out into adult fiction with a new mystery series based on a dog walker in Oxford, Anna Hopkins. The White Shepherd is Book #1 in that series and, if it’s any example of what’s to come, I think she’s got a winner on her hands. Now I must admit that I’ve loved dogs (and pretty much all animals) sinc Award-winning author Annie Dalton is best known for her popular children’s and YA novels that include the very popular Agent Angel a.k.a. Angel Academy YA series. Luckily for us she’s decided to branch out into adult fiction with a new mystery series based on a dog walker in Oxford, Anna Hopkins. The White Shepherd is Book #1 in that series and, if it’s any example of what’s to come, I think she’s got a winner on her hands. Now I must admit that I’ve loved dogs (and pretty much all animals) since I was a toddler so I may be just a tad biased when it comes to novels that feature dog characters. But even without the dog, I’d like this mystery and its realistic main character. See what you think at http://popcornreads.com/?p=8774

  9. 5 out of 5

    Elite Group

    The White Shepherd by Annie Dalton 3 Stars A murder mystery set in Oxford. Anna is somewhat of a recluse, after a family tragedy. She is out walking, Bonnie, a stray dog she has befriended, when Bonnie begins to dig up human remains. There are quite a few twists and turns and the ending will not be what you suspect. I enjoyed this story and even though I am not a dog lover, it still works for me. A gripping read, full of suspense and a good cast of characters. Take a chance, as it is worth a read. E The White Shepherd by Annie Dalton 3 Stars A murder mystery set in Oxford. Anna is somewhat of a recluse, after a family tragedy. She is out walking, Bonnie, a stray dog she has befriended, when Bonnie begins to dig up human remains. There are quite a few twists and turns and the ending will not be what you suspect. I enjoyed this story and even though I am not a dog lover, it still works for me. A gripping read, full of suspense and a good cast of characters. Take a chance, as it is worth a read. Elphaba Best Selling Crime Thrillers received a copy of this book to review

  10. 5 out of 5

    Loulou

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I listened to the audiobook, which was very well narrated by Karen Cass, who gave the characters distinctive voices. The story however, was so frustrating. The heart of the murder mystery was intriguing and I wanted to find out whodunit, but oh my life did I have to work for it! Why did I have to listen to a whole side story about the lovelife of Kirsty, Anna's work colleague and Kirsty's subsequent living arrangement plight? I'm still puzzled by this and unless I fell asleep during a revealing s I listened to the audiobook, which was very well narrated by Karen Cass, who gave the characters distinctive voices. The story however, was so frustrating. The heart of the murder mystery was intriguing and I wanted to find out whodunit, but oh my life did I have to work for it! Why did I have to listen to a whole side story about the lovelife of Kirsty, Anna's work colleague and Kirsty's subsequent living arrangement plight? I'm still puzzled by this and unless I fell asleep during a revealing story point (I admit it's possible) this side trio had no real bearing on the murder mystery. None. Except to make me swear and gnash my teeth. This, for me, made the story lumpy and interrupted the flow. The final showdown was also a bit painful. Please, just get on with the action, don't give me an account of how Anna could do some self defence move and then not do actually it. I also could have done without so much time spent on her grandfather, I understand he was an important touchstone for Anna but some of it went on so. On the positives I liked the three main characters, and I enjoyed Anna gradually finding her way back to life just by being in Tansy and Isadora's orbits. I will listen to the next book but not right away. I hope it's more focused than this one.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jan

    After a family tragedy during her teens, Anna Hopkins has led a reclusive life. As a comfort she finally adopts a shelter dog, a white shepherd named Bonnie. While walking one early morning, Bonnie discovers the body of an acquaintance, Naomi Evans who had promised to investigate Bonnie’s history to see if she could learn more about her. Two other women, one much older – Isadora, and one younger – Tansy, wait with Anna for the police. The three women gradually become friends and supporters. The p After a family tragedy during her teens, Anna Hopkins has led a reclusive life. As a comfort she finally adopts a shelter dog, a white shepherd named Bonnie. While walking one early morning, Bonnie discovers the body of an acquaintance, Naomi Evans who had promised to investigate Bonnie’s history to see if she could learn more about her. Two other women, one much older – Isadora, and one younger – Tansy, wait with Anna for the police. The three women gradually become friends and supporters. The police think that Naomi’s death is a random act of the Oxford Ripper. Details that the three women uncover make them less sure. Good characters, a touch of humor among the tragedies, and a hint of romance, make The White Shepherd a good start to an intriguing series. Recommended. Readalikes: Margaret Mizushima’s Timber Creek K-9 mysteries; David Rosenfelt – The K Team; Robert Dugoni’s Tracy Crosswhite series; Kylie Logan – The Scent of Murder; E.J. Copperman – Written Off. Pace: Fast-paced Characters: Well-developed w imperfections and trauma Storyline: Plot-driven Writing style: Compelling Tone: Suspenseful Frame: Oxford England; contemporary Theme: Life after trauma

  12. 4 out of 5

    Deane

    A new-to-me author, Annie Dalton writes a great story about 30-ish Anna Hopkins who has a very sad past but has come back to Oxford to live in her grandfather's house. He is now in a very posh nursing home and she sees him regularly. Anna has many mental and emotional problems due to the sad event during her teen years so is somewhat antisocial but she has a wonderful 'rescue' dog, a white German Shepherd named Bonnie who also has a somewhat sad past; their mutual feeling of love and trust is he A new-to-me author, Annie Dalton writes a great story about 30-ish Anna Hopkins who has a very sad past but has come back to Oxford to live in her grandfather's house. He is now in a very posh nursing home and she sees him regularly. Anna has many mental and emotional problems due to the sad event during her teen years so is somewhat antisocial but she has a wonderful 'rescue' dog, a white German Shepherd named Bonnie who also has a somewhat sad past; their mutual feeling of love and trust is healing to both. Bonnie and Anna discover the body of a newly-made friend in the park and through this she meets two other women dog walkers and they form a 'detecting team' to find the mutual friend's murderer. Most characters are developed well except for the new man in Anna's life, Jake who flits in and out of Anna's life...I didn't get a feeling of his true character. Dark secrets, homosexuality, murders, lies, doubts, trying to adjust to a 'normal' life, the story of Bonnie and Jake, the very intense ending made this a particularly good read.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Diana

    Anna Hopkins is on a walk through with the park with her dog. The dog discovers a body. Anna had met the victim in the past. She was a professional researcher. The police think the murder is a random act, but Anna thinks it has to do with something the victim was researching. There are a lot of characters and most of them did not know each other previously. It is interesting to find out how they are connected, but it can be a little confusing.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca Norton

    Love this book I absolutely love this book. I'm glad I decided to read it. It held my attention and I didn't want to put it down even though I had to get up at 430am and get ready to go to work. When I got up the next morning I read some more but had to go to work. I thought about it off and on at work. I grabbed it and finished it when . I got home. Love this book I absolutely love this book. I'm glad I decided to read it. It held my attention and I didn't want to put it down even though I had to get up at 430am and get ready to go to work. When I got up the next morning I read some more but had to go to work. I thought about it off and on at work. I grabbed it and finished it when . I got home.

  15. 4 out of 5

    RLBorton

    Wow Up all night to finish. Had to go back reread some places. Got ahead of myself with the who done it. Got one right but not the other. Surprised, but should have figured dad would show up again to "help". Ready to read the next one. Wow Up all night to finish. Had to go back reread some places. Got ahead of myself with the who done it. Got one right but not the other. Surprised, but should have figured dad would show up again to "help". Ready to read the next one.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Chuma

    It's an interesting read. A bit drawn out with heightened tension scenes. It could have been a bit faster-paced. I like how it down-played the romance and centered on the relationships with the canines. It's an interesting read. A bit drawn out with heightened tension scenes. It could have been a bit faster-paced. I like how it down-played the romance and centered on the relationships with the canines.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Bonnie Scott

    Intricate plot Liked this book a lot. Could hardly put it down which made for too many 4AM sleep times. It can't be easy to come up with new ideas after a while.I hope it won't discourage Annie Dalton from writing more. Intricate plot Liked this book a lot. Could hardly put it down which made for too many 4AM sleep times. It can't be easy to come up with new ideas after a while.I hope it won't discourage Annie Dalton from writing more.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Janna Moore

    Thrilling to the last page! I loved the characters. Each one carefully revealed through the story. Who was the murderer? Why? Bonnie the white shepherd lends her strength as only a loyal dog can. Keep reading this IS a series that will keep you coming for more.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    My non library affiliated book group is reading this. Honestly, I didn't like it. I wasn't able to care about any of the characters. The mystery wasn't interesting to me. I'm in the minority again. My non library affiliated book group is reading this. Honestly, I didn't like it. I wasn't able to care about any of the characters. The mystery wasn't interesting to me. I'm in the minority again.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    A very good mystery for dog lovers.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Brenda Funk

    Just finished reading this first in a series. I think there is potential here, will try another for sure. Needs a little more character development, a little more depth. But I liked it.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Mary Nuttelman

    Excellent start to new series, very atmospheric, includes dog(s), well drawn characters, and great location-Oxford. The ending was a bit rushed for me, but definitely tied up the ends.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Randall Chris Herrington

    Oxford setting. Twisty mystery. Thoughtful plotting, though somewhat scrambled. Back stories were, in order, unsolved and uncomfortable. Pacing was enough to keep my interest.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Lori

    It’s really a 3.5 star book but it held my interest & I didn’t guess-who-done it really so, well done. I’ll read a second by this author.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Cathy Cole

    The White Shepherd has an evocative Oxford setting and an extremely strong cast of characters. Anna is very self-contained and has purposely shut herself off from forming relationships due to severe trauma in her childhood. She realizes that she needs to make friends, but it certainly doesn't come naturally to her, as readers see through her attempts with fellow dog walkers Isadora and Tansy (who are every bit as interesting as Anna). Anna has developed a good rapport with her white shepherd, Bon The White Shepherd has an evocative Oxford setting and an extremely strong cast of characters. Anna is very self-contained and has purposely shut herself off from forming relationships due to severe trauma in her childhood. She realizes that she needs to make friends, but it certainly doesn't come naturally to her, as readers see through her attempts with fellow dog walkers Isadora and Tansy (who are every bit as interesting as Anna). Anna has developed a good rapport with her white shepherd, Bonnie, who also has an unusual history, and there's even a budding romance or two for her. See what happens when she decides to come out of her shell? The White Shepherd is a case of a vivid setting and a wonderful cast of characters being let down by a weak story. Read The White Shepherd to acquaint yourself with the characters because the story is much too predictable. I'm hoping that the second book in the series, Written in Red, will be different.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie Cox

    When I first heard about this upcoming book, I was incredibly excited about getting my hands on it. I am a lifelong fan of Annie; she is the one writer who made me so passionate about literature and publishing that I actually became a publishing professional myself (currently working for an academic publisher in a job I love.) Throughout my childhood I was in love with Annie’s Angels Unlimited Series – they stuck with me for a long time, and for this reason I really wanted to read this. As a chi When I first heard about this upcoming book, I was incredibly excited about getting my hands on it. I am a lifelong fan of Annie; she is the one writer who made me so passionate about literature and publishing that I actually became a publishing professional myself (currently working for an academic publisher in a job I love.) Throughout my childhood I was in love with Annie’s Angels Unlimited Series – they stuck with me for a long time, and for this reason I really wanted to read this. As a child I read her children’s novels, and now as an adult I have read her adult novel and it’s really made me feel like I have grown up alongside her literature. And the best part of all? She’s just as good an adult fiction writer as children’s fiction writer. What’s even better? Her daughter Maria, with whom she wrote the book, is just as talented. All this means in this case is that this proves that Annie is genuinely a great writer in a number of genres. The story is carried along at a good pace and I didn’t find myself getting bored or side-tracked at any point, which personally I feel is essential in a murder mystery novel. There is a fantastic twist at the end and nothing is too obvious or easy to predict. Also crucial to a good novel for me are believable characters. Annie’s characters are three-dimensional, believable, and they each develop and grow throughout the novel in ways that a lot of characters in other books don’t. The main protagonist Anna is a troubled and introverted young woman, haunted by the tragic events in her past. She suffers from social anxiety as a result, and is all but a recluse. Ironically, it is the occurrence of another tragic event that brings her out of her shell and results in a new-found social life, when it was a tragedy which originally robbed her of it. It proves that she has become much stronger emotionally as she has gotten older. But it also says a lot about the people she surrounds herself with – more of Annie’s and Maria’s colourful and skilfully crafted characters. I find that a lot of murder mystery novels, especially those that try too hard to be flat-out bleak and grim in order to achieve a certain pathetic fallacy, are often lacking in richness and depth. This wasn’t so with The White Shepherd. Annie has a beautiful way with words and paints Anna’s world and her home life as a place of total beauty. Annie’s love of nature shines through the book and makes the reader want to step into that world – even if it’s a world often tinged with sadness and pain. Her writing stimulates the senses, as though you’re almost in the book itself. The beauty of passages make for an effective and brutal contrast when the menace and foreboding of a murder mystery is introduced alongside it. It serves to make the unpleasant and grim parts of the novel all the more satisfying, entertaining and gripping. The novel has a very strong plot, rich in detail and very cleverly done. It is difficult to know what has happened – it truly is a murder mystery. In all, this is a richly woven tale full of everything that a reader could want – intrigue, mystery, love, sadness, happiness, lovable and believable characters, a strong plot, an unpredictable twist, and most of all, very talented writing. I adored this book, and I urge you read it

  27. 4 out of 5

    Judy Lesley

    I am still amazed at how much I enjoyed this novel. I think I had allowed myself to interpret the informational blurbs I read prior to choosing the book to make me think I would be getting a cozy mystery with stereotypical characters and plots found in books I don't like to read very much. What sold me was that there was going to be a German Shepherd dog staring in the novel and I'm a lifetime owner of GSDs. Happily I can tell you I was completely wrong about everything except the appearance of I am still amazed at how much I enjoyed this novel. I think I had allowed myself to interpret the informational blurbs I read prior to choosing the book to make me think I would be getting a cozy mystery with stereotypical characters and plots found in books I don't like to read very much. What sold me was that there was going to be a German Shepherd dog staring in the novel and I'm a lifetime owner of GSDs. Happily I can tell you I was completely wrong about everything except the appearance of the dog. Anna Hopkins is a woman haunted by an immense tragedy from her teen years. She lives practically in isolation in order to cope with her psychological problems and to keep people from getting close enough to her that they might find out her hidden secret past. Having her newly acquired rescued dog lead her to the body of a murder victim would have been at the very top of things Anna could not cope with. Finding that the victim was someone she knew and wanted to become friends with was almost enough to tip her over the edge. Help came in the forms of two other women who were walking their dogs in the same area. This early on in the story is where the author began to give me a glimmer of how wrong I had been to place this novel into any specific category, but definitely not into the "cozy" segment. These three women are completely unalike. These distinctions continue throughout the novel to provide depth and interest which kept the story away from the ordinary and firmly in the realm of the extraordinary. Each of the three women is fully formed with strengths and flaws showing throughout the novel. This novel is a psychological thriller, make no mistake about that. Anna has horrific memories she must continually try to work through and finding other people who willingly accept her trauma and want to help her was essential to her ability to solve this mystery, but Anna couldn't immediately give her trust to anyone so the growth of the friendships is always filtered through her fear of being disappointed in how others will react when they really know about her. I liked the way the author gave Anna the comfort of her growing trust in her dog, Bonnie. The backstory of how Bonnie came to be in a rescue facility is essential to the novel and the author did a great job of making the reader understand that the dog isn't present in the novel just to bring in people who like to read stories involving dogs. Naturally, it will help if you do know dogs, but it certainly isn't essential to the understanding of this story. I will admit to being blown away by this novel. I just hope others in the series can keep me glued to the pages the way this one did because that bar has been set awfully high. I'm waiting to read the next one as soon as it is hot off the press. I received an e-ARC of this novel through NetGalley.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Vicki Gooding

    Do yourself a favor. Delightful light read. Very suspenseful

  29. 5 out of 5

    Charty

    I still feel a little on the fence about this one. The murder mystery was rather bizarre and I can't decide if the author tied things up well or not. The reason for bringing our three main ladies together was not handled very well, and it seemed to stretch credibility somewhat that they would have stayed in touch with each other, or gone to such lengths to try and solve Naomi's murder on their own. Naomi was painted as this saint of love and light but since as a reader we never got to meet her i I still feel a little on the fence about this one. The murder mystery was rather bizarre and I can't decide if the author tied things up well or not. The reason for bringing our three main ladies together was not handled very well, and it seemed to stretch credibility somewhat that they would have stayed in touch with each other, or gone to such lengths to try and solve Naomi's murder on their own. Naomi was painted as this saint of love and light but since as a reader we never got to meet her it didn't feel like a very solid foundation upon which to hang the rest of their acquintence. There's at least two things I look for in any mystery series: was the mystery interesting? I don't necessarily need it to be extra clever, or unsolveable or need the author to play fair and leave a trail of clues, I just want to be invested in the circumstances or victim. I'd say this was average. The murder victim, Naomi is virtually unknown to reader and since the people investigating her murder barely know her either, it's a bit of a stretch to care. There is also a sublot involving Anna, one of the dog walkers in question, who has an unsolved bit of mystery in her own background. I didn't appreciate how the authors danced around her history, motivations or psychological state. Instead of being invested in her as a character, I found her a bit tiresome. That's usually my second criteria, that the main character at least, be intriguing enough to hold my attention and Anna wasn't. Her fellow dog walkers, Isadora and Tansy were likewise ok, but not super interesting (to me). All in all I would say I might pick up the next book in the series to see if things get better, but I feel rather doubtful. It's not the worst book I've ever picked up, it just felt somewhat inconsistent in it's plot and characterizations.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Debbie

    "The White Shepherd" is a suspense novel set in Oxford, England. The author did an awesome job of making it clear why the characters acted as they did. Anna isn't always a nice person. She's still struggling after a tragedy in her past and has trouble making friendships. I still cared what happened to her because I could see her struggling between her wants and her fears. The author gave glimpses into the complex motives of even minor characters. Awesome dog, too. Ironically, it's the death of Na "The White Shepherd" is a suspense novel set in Oxford, England. The author did an awesome job of making it clear why the characters acted as they did. Anna isn't always a nice person. She's still struggling after a tragedy in her past and has trouble making friendships. I still cared what happened to her because I could see her struggling between her wants and her fears. The author gave glimpses into the complex motives of even minor characters. Awesome dog, too. Ironically, it's the death of Naomi--a woman whom Anna thought might become a friend--that is a catalyst for Anna finally making some strong friendships. Anna and her friends followed up on each new clue as to who killed Naomi, ran into false leads, and tried again. People unexpectedly died or went missing...but is it murder or something less sinister? I had a fair idea of whodunit and why about halfway through so I was not surprised by what Anna finally discovered. However, the author kept me firmly pulled into the story until the end because I wanted to know what happened with the characters. The crime scenes were not described in a graphic, gory way, but they still felt vivid because of how the people viewing the scene reacted to it. There was no sex, mainly because Anna cannot let herself be vulnerable enough around others to allow such intimate contact. There was a fair amount of bad language of all kinds. The mystery that started with Naomi's death is wrapped up by the end, but the story did end with a "cliff hanger" of an unexplained but important Google alert going off. Overall, I'd recommend this complex suspense novel. I received an ebook review copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.

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