It's Christmas time, and for Raine Stockton and her Search and Rescue dog, Cisco, Hansonville, North Carolina is just like a Norman Rockwell painting - except for the rash of thefts of baby Jesus figurines from nativity scenes, an abandoned box of golden retriever puppies that someone leaves beside her mailbox, and a mysterious gift from one of Cisco's a grateful admirers. Raine already has her hands full with her own misbehaving pooches, unexpected house guests, and a complicated new relationship. But when a newborn is abandoned in the manger of the town's living nativity and Raine walks in on what appears to be the scene of a murder, she has more to worry about than keeping the Christmas spirit alive.
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Raine Stockton is preparing for Christmas in Hanover County and it isn't exactly a season to be jolly. She can't afford to complete the renovations on her kennel and dog run, she's finally divorced and her ex Buck Lawson has a new love interest. Raine herself is in the process of starting a new relationship; maybe. Miles Young is interested in Raine and she him; maybe. All that was before his ten year old daughter showed up in Hansonville with an attitude and a mouth. Add to that everyone she usually celebrates Christmas with is leaving for the holidays. Not to mention that someone is stealing all the baby Jesus' in town. Oh yes three Golden Retriever puppies are left at her house. Then she finds a live baby in the manger at the Christmas Pageant and things become even more serious. Naturally between Buck, Raine and her own Golden Cisco solve all the crimes and Christmas is merry for all. The Raine Stockton dog mysteries are a sweet pleasant listening experience that I share with my overgrown kid of a daughter. Her attitudes echo the old south and her feelings about her dogs is touching. A great shared experience for us.
Prior to "Silent Night" I hadn't read any in the Raine Stockton Dog Mystery series, I was assured however, that this Christmas story can be read as a stand alone. This is true, but I enjoyed it so much I wish I had started from Book One! This is a story that hooks you in from the very beginning, I found the first chapter engrossing, chilling and full of the anticipation of something about to happen! Well, it certainly did, but not quite as I expected, which only added to my enjoyment. Raine, our heroine is quite a woman, she is doing it really tough at the moment, suffering financial hardships and a degree of emotional turmoil. Her old love has a new love and this takes some getting used to, a bit more difficult perhaps than Raine had expected. I thought the author added a clever little touch when she mentions the way way in which the male colleagues of Raines ex now felt entitled to treat her with disrespect. Now, they somehow feel no compunction in being rude and snubbing her whenever they get the chance, this, despite the fact that Buck, her ex, treats her respectfully.
I loved how Raine, more used to dogs than children, adapted her dog training methods to modify the behaviour of a very unhappy little girl - the 10 year old child of her very new love interest. These methods worked too, (along with lots of human and puppy love thrown in). This story moves along well, plenty of action to keep the listener interested, it's a Christmas feel good story, and also a darned good mystery.
It never takes too long for the listener to know when they have found a new gem! Donna Postel is my new gem, I am a fussy listener, for me, the narrator is the most important element of an audiobook. Donna is master of narrative and of characterisation, no overacting here, a class act all the way. Talent and experience are the magic combination here, Donna is now in my top three favourite narrators, I think I make myself clear!