BY: PINKIE PARANYA
What do you get when you mix a beautiful gossip reporter; an amnesiac bag lady with a dangerously mysterious past; a forty-something, cranky, bumbling, New York private investigator with phobias about germs, animals, and most people; and a dog who defies description with a personality to match? A riot!
Budding sleuth Alexander “Mac” McBee—who trained by watching re-runs of Magnum P. I., The Rockford Files, and other old detective series—needs an attitude adjustment, and his new partner Herr Schnoodle could be just the dog to reform him. Together the reluctant McBee and Herr Schnoodle must solve a series of neighborhood dilemmas, including discovering who bag lady Apple Sally really is before whoever’s after her catches up, while McBee tries to make his heart do what he wants it to. Can Herr Schnoodle help him there, too? Perhaps. No problem seems to be too large for this unlikely, loveable canine PI.
TAYLOR JONES SAYS: In Herr Schnoodle & McBee by Pinkie Paranya, McBee is an accountant-turned-private investigator who finds a stray dog more capable of solving cases that he is. The dog, Herr Schnoodle, is described as the ugliest dog alive. Be that as it may, his personality is adorable. There’s a sweet romance running through the story that is both charming and surprising.
The story is heart-warming as well as clever, the characters delightful. If you want a lighthearted romp for a leisurely afternoon, you can’t go wrong with Herr Schonoodle & McBee.
REGAN MURPHY SAYS: Herr Scnoodle & McBee by Pinkie Paranya is a cozy mystery/romance worthy of Agatha Christie. Our main characters, Mac (McBee) and his dog, Herr Schnoodle, are a couple of bumbling PIs, trying to eek out a living doing what they love. Mac does better in this regard after rescuing Herr Schnoodle, whom he describes as the ugliest dog he’s even seen. Ugly or not, Herr Schnoodle seems to have an uncanny knack for solving difficult cases and pulling Mac along on his coat tails.
The pair are funny, clever, wholesome, and charming. The plot is intricate, with plenty of twists and turns to keep you guessing. Add in a sweet, and surprising, little romance, and Herr Schnoodle & McBee is hard to beat.
Alexander “Mac” McBee scrambled over garbage cans, climbed up on the chain link fence, and dropped–bent over, breathing hard. He felt the exertion in every muscle of his body.
“Barely forty and you’re unfit as hell,” he muttered when his breath caught up with him again.
To make matters worse, running through an alley after a member of the Crimson Blood Gang didn’t seem all that smart now that he thought of it. The ink on his mail order Private Investigator diploma wasn’t even dry and his first case should have been a walk in the park.
“You tailing me, McBee?”
The hoarse whisper sounded too close. Mac pivoted, ready to get in a few licks before Blackjack, the sleazy bookie he had followed for days, caught his breath. So much for undercover work, the guy even knew his name.
“Yeah, I’m following you.”
It was hard to slow his gasps to somewhere near normal.
“What the hell for?” Blackjack brushed dust from his expensive looking trousers. “I paid you a deposit and you screwed up the big bucks. You were supposed to watch Marie, not me, you freakin’ nut case!”
Private-eye work could get complicated. When had he decided to switch from shadowing Marie to watching her husband?
“Back off, I don’t like your garlic breath,” Mac said, with what he liked to think of as cold menace in his voice.
He stood at least a head taller than the creep did, but the little bit of optimism didn’t last long.
Blackjack flexed his arms. A switchblade fell into a waiting palm in a calculated gesture of intimidation. “I asked a question. Why follow me?”
Mac fumbled in his jacket pocket and drew out a pack of photos to show him.
The street noises funneled into the alley, but all Mac heard was the sound of Blackjack shuffling the photos like he was dealing cards.
Suddenly a loud squalling tore the air and both men jumped at the cat’s quarrel in the garbage cans behind them. Mac looked down to see if he still had his socks and loafers on.
Blackjack hit the pictures with the flat of his blade. “What’s this all about?”
Mac swallowed and tried to tower over the fellow. He decided that didn’t work, not with a switchblade close to his face. He dropped back on his heels and forced himself to relax.
“It means the cops have all the evidence they need to bust you for aggravated assault. I took the shots the last time you beat up Marie–and got statements from the neighbors. If that doesn’t do it, I know about Babette, the little tootsie you set up on the other side of the city. Marie’s going to take you to court, and you’ll lose everything but your Fruit of the Looms.”
“Tootsie?” Blackjack’s gravelly voice rose an octave in outraged disbelief. “Tootsie? Are you in some kind of time warp or something?”
Mac studied the ground a moment. Maybe he should quit watching those old detective movies on late-night TV. He thought they’d help him get a feel for this profession, but would Magnum have said Tootsie? “Whatever. You’re missing the point.”
Blackjack’s scorn progressed to a mask of hostility. “McBee, you’re a dirty-dealing, double-crosser. Marie’s messing around on me. Everyone on the street knows that. I hired you to–”
“Yeah?” Mac interrupted the tirade before the little man could build up a head of steam.
Where short tempers were the norm, the neighborhood regarded Blackjack’s awesome temper with unparalleled respect.
The bookie’s narrow, pale face showed puzzlement. “But why? I paid good.”
“Yeah, well–here’s your money.” Mac extended a handful of bills, mostly singles, hoping Blackjack wouldn’t bother counting it.
“Aw, save it for your old age, if you’re lucky enough to have one,” Blackjack muttered with uncharacteristic generosity. “Just answer my question. Why?”
Not sure what or how to answer, Mac stalled. Marie deserved something better than this worm, for sure. She had a boyfriend, true enough, a legless Nam vet who painted pictures. Weeks ago, he’d watched them together as she wheeled him through the park. Their devotion was unmistakable.
Mac had warned them of Blackjack’s suspicions. He recalled the thrill of pulling the roll of thirty-five-millimeter film out of his camera and tossing it in the nearby litter can. He had seen that dramatic gesture at least a hundred times in the late movies and had always wanted to do it.
Blackjack raised his arm and the knife slid back into his sleeve. Mac wondered what a good sneeze would do to his sweat glands with the sharp end pointed up like that.
“Hell, I don’t give a damn anymore what Marie does,” Blackjack snarled. “She’s lousy in bed, anyway. I’m heading for Vegas tomorrow. Make sure our paths don’t cross again!”
Mac considered the remainder of his evaporated fee while he watched Blackjack saunter off, still brushing at his trousers. Owning a license reading “Alexander McBee, Private Investigator” hadn’t put many groceries on the table so far.
His problem had started when he flew in the face of the family tradition of being a cop to become into a tax accountant after college. He should have given up and joined the force as his father and grandfather expected he would do. He had just needed to rebel, but talk about shooting yourself in the foot–he detested working with figures. He still hated to admit he’d chosen the profession his father would oppose the most.
By now, he should be tooling around in a fancy car, preferably a shiny, red convertible–strictly low-profile, of course. He should have nubile lovelies standing in line for his attention. Excitement should lurk in every corner. Damn it, he’d counted on it happening! He watched reruns of Magnum over and over to capture that Mr. Cool persona.
The late afternoon turned to dusk as Mac ambled along the littered streets. In absentminded distaste, he kicked away the blowing papers that clung to his trousers. Last week a paper loaded with squiggly jelly from the donut cart had landed against his leg. He couldn’t afford another cleaning bill.
When he passed shopkeepers in front of their stores, sometimes they nodded, but none spoke to him. Mac’s glance flickered into a doorway and took in the snoozing wino. Was he invisible like that man?
Sometimes he had the feeling he’d been invisible all his life. People saw him and spoke to him –but did anyone ever see beyond his baby blues? His thoughts carried him beyond his usual walk and toward the docks, unmindful of the dark corners with suspicious lumps of humanity lying along the wharf. Spaced out with drugs or liquor, they, too, were untouched by his presence. He felt lulled by the lap-lap of the murky water and kicked at a stray can to break the monotony.
Life chugged along in slow motion. This wasn’t how it should be. Sure, he was better off than they were. He watched a particularly repulsive bum cradling a bottle of dago red as if it were his only friend in the world.
But what the hey? That wasn’t a fair comparison. He had poured his body and soul into this PI business and it was turning sour on him.
Something made a low whine as the water slapped louder against the side of the barnacle-encrusted pier. Mac took two neatly folded paper towels from his back pocket and laid them on the dock before he knelt and peered over the side. From the fog-shrouded streetlight, he barely made out a form in the flotsam and jetsam. He smiled when the words leaped into his mind. Flotsam and jetsam. In high school, they were his two favorite words for weeks until his family banned him from ever saying them again in the house.
The dark mass in the water struggled weakly. A rat? Nope. At least he hoped never to see a rat that big. He bent to get a closer look.
Good Lord! It was a dog!
His first instinct was to turn away. He was sure he’d always been allergic to any creature with fur. They could make him sneeze or break out in ugly hives. If the animal still had any life left, it probably carried bubonic plague from all that dirty water. Mac imagined he saw the whites of the dog’s eyes move. He turned away and then sighed. Maybe he should haul the beast up and let it expire in peace. Nothing should have to die in water so thick you could dig it with a shovel.
Reaching down into the slime, Mac grabbed a handful of fur. His nose clogged with the stench of pollution. The damned animal weighed a ton as he hauled it in and dumped it on the dock. He glanced down at his once-neat suit. What a mess. First the jelly donuts, now this. So much for wearing a suit and tie. He should have ignored that particular suggestion from the PI correspondence school’s list of commandments. It hadn’t hurt Magnum to run around in tight jeans and baggy Hawaiian shirts.
Mac examined the soggy heap of fur on the dock with distaste, tempered with revulsion. It looked like a huge porcupine with bits of floating debris and grease stuck to its coat. Mac bent closer to examine the heavy rope wrapped around its neck. No damn wonder the dog felt heavy.
He poked the animal with the toe of his shoe, hoping it was beyond caring. No such luck. The tail flopped weakly, spraying a greasy film over the tops of his shoes and the one trouser leg still clean. With that effort expended, the dog’s head fell back, and its eyes closed in weary resignation.
© 2006 by Pinkie Paranya
In New York, fortyish Alexander McBee changes vocations from accounting to private investigative work based on a correspondence course, Magnum reruns, and the DNA of his father and grandfather, former cops. He literally picks up a new partner when the lone sleuth finds an injured ugly canine that is a horrendous mixing of a schnauzer and a poodle, who he calls Herr Schnoodle.
With Schnoodle at his side they recover a missing Persian cat, stolen grocery carts, and solve the case of a missing person. However, McBee admits to himself that Schnoodle is the brains of the operation as the dog solves the case though it seems to outsiders that McBee accomplishes the feat. They meet homeless Apple Sally and both are intrigued by her. As McBee’s rep grows, reporter Darcy takes a personal interest in him even as he finds himself needing to know more about Apple Sally. Before Schnoodle, McBee had no friends; now hehas plenty, but first he and his partner want to make things right for Apple Sally.
This is a lighthearted private investigator tale with a serious subplot involving Apple Sally. WC Field’s theory of not performing with animals or children as they will steal the scene comes through as Schnoodle constantly stars. McBee is a fine person just coming out of his shell thanks to his partner and Apple Sally. Fans will appreciate this humorous detective tale summed up by McBee when he reflects how Herr Schnoodle is the brains of the operation. ~ Harriet Klausner, Reviewer
L. E. Cantrell:
This is a rather odd little book.
In form, it’s familiar enough. A private eye has just established his business. He endures the slow days until clients start trickling in. He solves some cases. He meets some people, among them a homeless woman with a mysterious past, a glamorous reporter who works on a low-life, unethical rag; a handful of neighborhood characters, a few paying clients. So far, so good, but the tone of the book is somehow all wrong … even strange.
Pleasantly strange, though.
If anything, “Herr Schnoodle & McBee” reads like a screen treatment of a Raymond Chandler novel prepared by Frank Capra at his most misty-eyed and goo-ily populist. It’s “Mr. McBee Goes to Town to Become a P.I.” It’s all sort of, well, warm … and cozy. Mr. McBee’s mean streets are the type of mean streets that might be prowled by Elwood P. Dowd and his friend Harvey, that six-foot tall, invisible rabbit.
And a big, ugly, lovable dog that’s at the center of everything.
Mr. Dowd once expounded on the fact that he had been told that to get along in this world, he had either to be very smart or very pleasant. He had chosen pleasant.
This book has chosen pleasant, too. I think it deserves four pleasant stars. ~ L. E. Cantrell, Reviewer
Midwest Book Review:
Alexander McBee is a New York private investigator who doesn’t have much flair or luck in solving his cases. One day, Her Schnoodle, a very unattractive dog, appears by the pier next to McBee who was quietly contemplating on his unhappy life. Alexander rescues the dog and brings him home. Her Scnoodle proves to be a gifted dog who finds the missing evidence in McBee’s cases. With his help, the investigator gains confidence and becomes successful at catching the offenders.
The story takes a romantic twist when Darcy, a charming reporter, is sent by her boss to spy on McBee. Darcy’s determination to get a story to publish, leads her to find important information on the investigator’s friend Apple Sally, a bag lady on the run with a dangerous history. With the help of the reporter, Alexander unravels the mystery behind Sally’s past. Throughout this time, McBee also finds himself attracted to both women and in the end he goes for the one he deeply cares for.
P.K. Paranya is an established author, who writes very well: Her novel `Herr Schnoodle & McBee’ is an intelligent and humorous story. Moreover, the author portrays the main characters in the most creative way: a bag lady suffering with amnesia, a gifted ugly dog solving mystery cases, a grumpy private investigator with many phobias and an attractive reporter, willing to risk it all for a good story. Overall, the plot is captivating and the reader will find himself trying to solve the puzzles along with McBee and his Schnoodle.
I enjoyed reading this novel to a great extent. I thought it has wit and all the ingredients necessary to make a wonderful and entertaining detective tale. This book is with no doubt a fantastic read! ~ Manuela Pop, Reviewer
Christy Tillery French:
Private Investigator Alexander McBee’s heroes are TV’s Magnum, Mannix and Barnaby Jones. McBee fancies himself a loner, but that comes to an end one evening when he rescues a dog from drowning. McBee takes the mutt home to clean him up and a partnership is born. Herr Schnoodle, as McBee names the dog, has a propensity to solve crimes, and within a short time, McBee’s business is booming. Before he knows it, this loner is helping the down and out while trying to figure out why Apple Sally, a homeless woman suffering from amnesia, can’t remember her past. But once she does, McBee’s intent on saving her from the person who wants to kill her.
McBee is an engaging man who shuns germs and is afraid of commitment, and whose perception of himself changes over the course of the book. Herr Schnoodle is absolutely lovable and rounds out this cozy mystery to perfection. The partnership between the two makes this a fun read, with winning characters and a compelling storyline. ~ Christy Tillery French, Reviewer