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The Dog Park Club by Cynthia Robinson

“The Dog Park Club” mystery is the first in a new series by San Francisco author, Cynthia Robinson, about a gay/bisexual opera singer sleuth, Max Bravo.

Max is an interesting character. He is partly of gypsy extraction and his dark good looks seem to attract both men and women, and he seems to be receptive to both. At the same time, his life is largely a lonely one spent traveling around the world singing major baritone parts in various opera companies and in traveling shows of the San Francisco opera. This is a unique character to feature as a mystery protagonist.

In this situation he takes on the role of dog walker for his best friend, Claudia and her dog, Asta. Max and Asta frequent the dog park near Claudia’s home in Berkeley where they meet a very eclectic cadre of characters– a pert and pregnant mortgage broker who disappears about half way through the book; a Vietnam vet who lives in his RV; a Spanish long term visitor, a German friend of Max, a computer genius, a couple of lesbians and sometimes Claudia. Once Amy Carter disappears the rest of the gang meets several times to figure out how to prove that Amy’s husband, Steve, is behind the disappearance.

The more this motley crew investigates the more other possibilities turn up about Amy’s disappearance.

This is an amusing first novel in a unique genre that the author calls a comic noir mystery. It reminds me a little of Ann Rice, but set in San Francisco rather than New Orleans.

Liz Nichols

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