The Squirrel on the Train: Oberon and Atticus solve another mystery

The Squirrel on the Train by Kevin HearneThe Squirrel on the Train by Kevin HearneThe Squirrel on the Train by Kevin Hearne

Kevin Hearne’s IRON DRUID CHRONICLES (IDC) series is immensely popular, partly because of the Iron Druid’s hilarious canine side-kick, Oberon the Irish Wolfhound. The IDC novels are especially good in audio format, thanks to Luke Daniel’s amazing performance. His characterization of Oberon is particularly excellent.

Hearne and Daniels have smartly capitalized on Oberon’s popularity by spinning off a delightful series of novellas that feature Oberon as the protagonist and narrator. You do not need to read these in publication order; each can stand alone. However, it’s helpful (but not at all necessary) to be caught up with the IDC novels since some of the characters (e.g. Orlaith and Starbuck) are introduced in those books.

The first of OBERON’S MEATY MYSTERIES was last year’s The Purloined Poodle in which Atticus and Oberon caught an evil dog-napper. The second MEATY MYSTERY is the recently released The Squirrel on the Train. Again Oberon and Atticus stumble across a crime — this time it’s a murder mystery that involves a doppelganger, a shapeshifter, and some delicious evidence.

The mystery isn’t super complex but makes sense for a story narrated by a dog in which tracking and using other olfactory cues is a major part of their crime-solving strategy. My main critique is that it’s really hard to believe that Atticus and Oberon would be allowed into crime scenes and then be so sloppy with evidence. Detective Ibarra knows them, but she’s got to be bending all sorts of rules and risking her job when she gives them information and accepts their help. This part of the story is far-fetched.The Iron Druid Chronicles (9 Book Series) by Kevin Hearne

Another minor critique is that the bit with the Nazis feels shoehorned in — like Hearne felt the need to address current cultural issues in his book. I hate Nazis, too, but one of the reasons I read Hearne’s books are to escape real life for a while, so a sudden reminder in a fantasy story that Nazis exist in America today was unpleasant. But that’s me and other readers may feel very differently.

These little issues are easy to forgive when the story is so entertaining. The best part, of course, is Oberon with his exuberant love of meat and gravy, his inability to judge time intervals, his hilarious thoughts about life, and his extreme distrust of squirrels. (It turns out that maybe Oberon is right about the squirrels…)

Subterranean Press, bless their hearts, is publishing OBERON’S MEATY MYSTERIES and you can purchase The Squirrel on the Train in hardcover or Kindle editions. But if you’re an audio reader, you must listen to the audio version published by the author himself and read by the amazing Luke Daniels.

Published November 30, 2017. Oberon the Irish wolfhound is off to Portland to smell all the things with canine companions wolfhound Orlaith and Boston terrier Starbuck, and, of course, his human, ancient Druid Atticus O’Sullivan. The first complication is an unmistakable sign of sinister agendas afoot: a squirrel atop the train. But an even more ominous situation is in store when the trio plus Atticus stumble across a murder upon arrival at the station. They recognize Detective Gabriela Ibarra, who’s there to investigate. But they also recognize the body – or rather that the body is a doppelganger for Atticus himself. The police, hampered by human senses of smell and a decided lack of canine intuition, obviously can’t handle this alone. Not with Atticus likely in danger. Oberon knows it’s time to investigate once more – for justice! For gravy! And possibly greasy tacos! Alongside his faithful Druid, Oberon and the other loyal hounds navigate by nose through Portland to find a bear-shifter friend with intel, delicious clues at the victim’s home, and more squirrels. Always more squirrels! But will our hungry band of heroes be able to identify the culprit before someone else is murdered? Will there be mystery meat in gravy as a reward or tragedy in store for the world’s (or at least the Pacific Northwest’s) greatest dog detective? Like its predecessor The Purloined Poodle, the latest of Oberon’s Meaty Mysteries novella, The Squirrel on the Train, is not to be missed by fans of Kevin Hearne’s New York Times best-selling Iron Druid series.

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KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches and conducts brain research at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.

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