Petty Crimes

Again, I have picked a cosy mystery, and let me ask you a question while I pretend to be reading (I am fairly busy, struggling to have a small Christmas collection ready in less than two weeks).

Which role should pets play in a cosy mystery?Do you like talking dogs, flying pigs or do you prefer more down-to-earth stories?


NB: if one or two of you could be persuaded to beta-read my Knavesborough Christmas collection, it would be an immense help. Just send a word to (at)


About Dorte Hummelshøj Jakobsen

I am a Danish teacher. In my spare time I read, write and review crime fiction.
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18 Responses to Petty Crimes

  1. lrbauthor says:

    I prefer the voice of catitude. Cats are smart, devious to the enth degree, and some writers have turned them into great detectives. They can be positively nasty little demons one minute and curl up in your lap for a good snuggle the next. You could say that they are really “catty”!

  2. Petty Witter says:

    I don’t mind talking dogs and cats but only if they are typical and leave me thinking yeah if a cat/dog could speak I could just imagine it saying that. A cat for example I’d expect to be somewhat vain and thinking of what was best for itself wheras a dog, well, a dog I’d expect to be – you know I don’t know what I’d expect a dog to be, perhaps more loyal, more of a side-kick if you know what I mean.

  3. Dorte – Oh, I like that question, because I happen to be a pet lover. I actually am not fond of talking pets. Most of the time I just can’t let go of what I know to be true about animals. So it’s hard for me to take seriously animals that talk. That said, though, I do enjoy cosies where the sleuth has an animal companion and relies on that companion for comfort and companionship.

  4. I go along with Margot on this. I’m down to earth about pets – nothing wrong with a clever dog or cat who can indicate thoughts (we’ve had a few like that) and let you know what they like etc, but I don’t like talking animals. Agatha Christie’s little dog in ‘Dumb Witness’, if I remember right, had some dialogue, but he didn’t speak as such to the other characters. I thought that came over well.

  5. Like Margot and Margaret I love animals but I want them to be realistic – people can talk to animals in the books I read but the animals should not talk back…I just find I cannot take a book seriously when it has that though I do know that many people enjoy them

  6. Thank you for your input!

    I´ll reveal what kind of pet appears in this series – perhaps Sunday.

  7. Norman says:

    The difficulty with including animals in crime fiction is that animals will never let you down, humans frequently do. The human could certainly imagine the animal speaking but actually speaking would be a no no for me.

  8. Ann Best says:

    I enjoy more down to earth stories, but I’m not everyone! Good luck on the new Christmas collection you’re trying to get out, DJ.

  9. Kelly says:

    I’m late getting to this with my imput, but I feel like many of the others do. I really love pets, but usually want them to be “realistic” in the stories I read. I do enjoy the occasional story told from an animal’s point of view (like “The Art of Racing in the Rain”).

    Selfishly, I would love to be a beta-reader for you, but I’m just not sure I can guarantee the time to do it right now. My life has calmed down some, but things are still awfully busy for me right now.

  10. kathy d. says:

    I like pets, and I like characters to have pets, but real pets, like V.I. Warshawski in Sara Paretsky’s series. She walks them, runs them, plays with them, has fun with them. But they don’t talk or solve crimes. They’re dogs.
    I like characters who have pets and enjoy them, and it’s fine for me if the pets are very intelligent — like pets can be.
    But I’ve kept away from talking and mystery solving cats and dogs. It’s just too unrealistic. But a dog who growls at a murderer, villiain, suspect, is fine with me. The dog may sense something is wrong. However, I wouldn’t enjoy it if the dog told the sleuth clues or thought through the crime.

  11. Seana says:

    I would have said that I didn’t like the talking animal idea, but in fact I love J.F. Englert’s Randolph in Dog About Town. Of course that may be because Randolph is real…

  12. I would go with a talking dog (not because I have a dog) but because dogs are clever and they stick by you and also because I can’t imagine a talking cat or a flying pig. I have been toying with the idea of writing a mystery about a private eye and his talking dog who helps him solve cases — like Snowy who is shown talking to Tintin when he is really talking to himself or the reader. In my story the dog is actually talking to his master, like a cop and his partner. It’s still only an idea. Sounds like Dolittle, I know. I like a little fantasy creeping into fiction and, if executed well, I don’t think it takes away realism out of the story.

  13. Beth F says:

    I don’t mind animals but I’m not big on the talking bit. A short story or a book once in a while is fine. But I tend to burn out quickly on series that feature psychic or talking pets.

  14. Joanne says:

    A horse is a horse, of course, of course,
    And no one can talk to a horse of course
    That is, of course, unless the horse is the famous Mr. Ed.

    I couldn’t resist putting that in. 🙂 Do you remember Mr Ed? It was an American show back in the 60s. Loved it of course!
    I don’t mind animals that talk on television or movies (even as a grown-up), but I’m not sure about it in a book. Would be interesting to read though. I’m open to something different or new.

  15. Joanne says:

    Oops! Sorry about the source bit, Dorte. You’re welcome to delete it. ;(

  16. Barbara says:

    No talking animals for me except in a children’s book. I love animals, but I think they are more than smart and charming enough without talking. They provide us with companionship, understanding, love, and an example of complete joy and/or total rest. With all that, why would we want them to talk too? I did enjoy the series of “The Cat Who . . . ” books. The cats never talked but had their ways of indicating what their owner should notice or understand. That’s going plenty far enough as far as I’m concerned.

  17. Hi Prashant, nice to meet you!

    I can see most of you have the same limit as me. With few exceptions, I prefer realistic animals, but I suppose we can all find those brilliant exceptions where writers are able to pull it off.

    Joanne: I just love sauce … oh… well… But I don´t know Mr Ed so the show has probably not been sent to my part of the world.

  18. I don’t like talking animals and I especially dislike talking cats. The only exception is the mystery series told from the point of view of the dog, which is quite humorous and successful – The Dog Who Knew Too Much by Spence Quinn. I’ve only read this one in the series and am planning to read the others to see if I also like them.

    The Beatrix Potter series with talking animals is cute but a bit too cute for me to really enjoy.

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