The Spotted Dog by Kerry Greenwood

There are few in the crime world quite as capable at both solving mysteries and baking an excellent sourdough as Corinna Chapman: baker extraordinaire, sometime detective, and general lady-about-town. Kerry Greenwood – of Phryne Fisher fame – returns to the present with another tale of Corinna’s industrious adventures, this time involving the quest for a missing dog, violently stolen from a recently returned Scottish soldier desperate to be reunited with the canine that helped keep him alive in Afghanistan. Of course, nothing is quite as simple as that: there are also historical tomes to be translated, breakings-and-enterings to stop-and-kick-back-out, suburban gang wars to avoid, cyber warfare to defeat, and a lot of impatient cats to be reassured. And when you live in a multi-level block of apartments like Corinna’s beloved Insula, there are always the domestic issues of having so many interesting neighbours to contend with as well. Honestly, the 4am wake-up every weekday is the least of Corinna’s problems.

Greenwood has created another vibrant character with Corinna – here on her seventh outing – a woman who rises off the page as if the font was printed with yeast. Resolute in her ways, she talks as passionately of wine and tea and felines as she does of crime and violence. She boldly holds forth opinions on just about everyone and everything happening around her and the diverse variety of people (and animals) who populate this earth. If a problem arises, Corinna knows the person who can solve it, from her private detective lover Daniel to her ferociously loyal friends and neighbours – and sometimes you need a little help to get the bad guys to talk … or do a little breaking-and-entering of your own. Best enjoyed in a warm lavender bath with a glass of something suitably fancy – but don’t keep your Kevlar vest too far out of reach.

Fiona Hardy is our monthly crime fiction columnist, and also blogs about children’s books at Fiona The Hardy.