Take a chance on No Second Chances

By Lyndon Stacey, 224 pp., published by Severn House Ltd. Available in hardcover, list price $28.95 (USD); pre-order Kindle edition, list price $14.99 (USD).
By Lyndon Stacey, 224 pp., published by Severn House Ltd. Available in hardcover, list price $28.95 (USD); pre-order Kindle edition, list price $14.99 (USD). Release schedule 1 July 2016.

No Second Chances opens with an unintended mystery:  Why should Daniel Whelan, an ex-cop delivering farm supplies, jump to the aid of a client he scarcely knows and her insanely impulsive 15-year-old daughter? It doesn’t make sense, and it never makes sense, yet the mystery deserves a second chance and readers, especially those with a passion for animal rescue and dogs in particular, should give it that chance.

Whelan and Taz, the German shepherd who retired from the police force when his handler resigned and now accompanies him on his farm rounds, are engaging and fully developed characters.  I liked them, and I’d like to know them better.  Lorna Myers, the client who only learns her husband has disappeared when a pair of thugs shows up at their farmhouse in search of him, is never much more than a supporting character.  Her daughter, Zoe, is a primary personality, and utterly annoying.

Yet these irritations are what drive the plot.  She rushes headlong into danger, pulling Whelan and everyone else along and irritating both characters and readers alike as she searches for her missing boyfriend while all but ignoring the danger confronting her mother in the wake of her stepfather’s disappearance.  Not to mention the dangers confronting herself, both from those who want to stop her from finding the 19-year-old Traveler (also known as a gypsy, though from Ireland rather than Romany), those who are searching for her stepfather, and those who know that her search for the boy may very well lead to the whereabouts of the stepfather – or at least the reason for his disappearance.

Against all odds, Whelan sticks with Zoe, her boyfriend, and her mother.  Readers who are willing to give the book a second chance should ignore the odds and stick, too, because the mystery is neatly plotted, Stacey’s writing is a pleasure to read, and several of the characters are deftly drawn. The book introduces a character, a beauty who rescues greyhounds, who seems poised to appear in future books in the series, and, like Whelan, I’d like to know her better.

Mysteries, by definition, must include some violence. This isn’t a cozy (although Amazon.com currently has it categorized as such), but the violence shouldn’t offend most readers’ sensibilities. The dialogue does include some vulgar language, though far from egregious by common standards and not unexpected with Travelers among the cast of characters.  I did, however, object to Daniel’s use of an epithet as a term of endearment in the last line. It stopped the story from ending on an otherwise good note for me.

Note:  Severn House provided a complimentary advanced reading copy via NetGalley to allow Sis to read and review this mystery. The review reflects her own and only her own opinions. Sis doesn’t take any chances where her reputation is concerned.

Publisher’s Description: Ex-police dog handler Daniel Whelan finds himself drawn into the complex affairs of a neighbouring family – with potentially fatal consequences. Lorna Myers thinks she knows where her businessman husband is – until two men come looking for him one October evening. By lucky chance, ex-police officer Daniel Whelan happens to be on hand to take control of the situation, but for Lorna it’s the start of a nightmare. If Harvey isn’t abroad working, then where is he?  When Lorna’s daughter asks Daniel for help with a problem of her own, he finds himself reluctantly drawn into the complex affairs of the Myers family – with what could be deadly consequences for both him and his faithful canine partner, Taz.

Pre-order Kindle edition:

Previous books in this series:

No Going Back (Daniel Whelan Mystery, Book 1)

The first in an exciting new mystery series featuring ex-police dog handler Charlie Whelan – When two young sisters run away on Dartmoor, Charlie Whelan and his German shepherd, Taz, are called into action, and a desperate search quickly turns up one of the girls. However, rather than showing relief at being rescued, she seems terrified. Darkness halts their hunt for her elder sister, and Charlie returns home with one distressing question on his mind: just what were the girls running from?

No Holds Barred (Daniel Whelan Mystery, Book 2)

The second in the exciting new mystery series featuring ex-police dog handler Daniel Whelan – When ex-police dog handler Daniel Whelan is asked by his former boss to help a friend who is struggling to run her husband’s haulage company while he is recovering from a vicious attack, he and his German shepherd, Taz, rapidly find themselves attracting the wrong sort of attention. Daniel investigates and soon finds evidence of some very nasty business indeed – but after several violent warnings, he begins to wonder . . has he bitten off more than he can chew?

Nothing But Lies: A British police dog-handler mystery (Daniel Whelan Mystery, Book 3)

Daniel’s ex-colleague, police officer Joey Matsuki, has asked for his help. Joey is concerned for the safety of his fiancée, Tami, who has reported sightings of a sinister, hoodie-clad figure lurking in the area. Joey fears the involvement of a notorious local criminal recently released from prison. But with nothing concrete to go on and police resources scarce, he’s asked Daniel to keep an eye on Tami on his behalf. Working undercover as Tami’s temporary horse-box driver, Daniel soon begins to believe there may be more to the situation than meets the eye. As he questions Tami’s friends and neighbours, it becomes clear that something is not quite right. There are things people aren’t telling him; small but significant incidents that can’t be explained. Events take a tragic turn when there is a fatal hit-and-run incident. But was it really an accident – and could Tami herself have been the intended target?

About the author: Lyndon Stacey is an animal portraitist by trade and loves Western style horse riding. She lives in the Blackmore Vale in Dorset, with three assorted dogs and two cats, and is now a full-time writer. Her many interests include horse riding, animal psychology, classical music, genealogy and exploring the countryside on her motorcycle.