Published by Amazon Digital Services on 28th November 2017
Amazon UK, Amazon US
London, 2046. The British Republic has a new First Lady. She’s Californian, ‘in-your-face, for sure’ and she’s got big plans for a Buckingham Palace refurb. When her three Chihuahuas go missing, one man is determined to avoid getting dragged into it all. His name is Pond. Howie Pond – presidential spokesperson, retired secret agent and cat lover.
Meanwhile, Howie’s wife Britt is handed her first assignment as a National Security and Intelligence Service rookie – to solve the mystery of the missing canine trio.
Will Howie manage to slope off to the pub before he can be roped into help? Will Britt unmask the dognapper and grab the glory? Find out, in the latest, crazy comedy-thriller from dog-loving British author Paul Mathews.
‘Of course you do!’ boomed Johnnie. ‘And I have a business to run. Old English sheepdogs don’t walk themselves, you know.’ He went to turn and then stopped himself. ‘Oh, and if the owner of these fine specimens ever wants any professional help walking them, just look me up. I’d be more than happy to oblige. Hollywood Hounds of Kensington and Chelsea. No job – or dog – too small. We treat every one of our four-legged clients like A-list superstars at prices the rich and famous can afford. Walks start from five hundred pounds an hour.’ He waved a hand. ‘Adios, amigos!’ Then he marched off towards The Mall with his poodle in tow – their bouffants bouncing in perfect time with each other.
Conor was now fully in control of all three dogs and able to focus his attention on Howie. ‘Do you think we could persuade the First Lady to use Mr Hollywood’s services? It sounds like the kind of high-end, massively over-priced thing she might go for.’
Howie shook his head. ‘No chance. She only wants people in the president’s inner circle walking her precious pooches.’
‘But I’m not exactly in his inner circle, am I, sir?’
Howie placed an understanding hand on Conor’s shoulder. ‘You’re the nearest person to the centre of the circle we could persuade to do it.’
They began walking back to Buckingham Palace.
Conor stared down at the winding path. ‘If I might be so bold, sir, why can’t you walk them? You’re closer to the president than I am.’
That was a good question. And it would require a good answer. Howie would have to make one up. ‘I own a cat. And I can’t go home smelling of Chihuahuas every night, can I?’
‘But I own a cat too, sir.’
‘There are o-o-other reasons besides that,’ stuttered Howie, urging his brain to suggest some. It didn’t. So he switched into presidential spokesperson mode and began to bullshit. ‘There are many reasons why I can’t walk those dogs. I was just giving you one of those reasons which, as it turns out, is quite a good reason but, of itself, is not a good enough reason, when taken individually, for you to stop walking them.’
Conor only looked mildly baffled, rather than completely flummoxed. Howie still had some work to do. He pressed on.
‘So, owning a cat is a good enough reason for me not to walk the First Lady’s dogs, Conor, when combined with my long list of as-yet-unspecified, and later-to-be-clarified, other reasons which, for even more other reasons, I can’t go into detail about at this present moment in time.’
Conor’s eyes were starting to glaze over. So were the dogs’. This was textbook stuff, as Johnnie Hollywood might say. All Howie needed now was a killer conclusion.
‘So, in a nutshell, Conor, that’s why I can’t do it – the sum of the reasons for not walking the Chihuahuas always being greater than its constituent parts.’
Conor’s expression confirmed that he was now in a state of total bemusement. ‘If you say so, sir.’
The Chihuahuas sniffed the air. Howie chuckled inwardly – perhaps they could smell the bullshit? Or maybe it was Conor’s desperation. The Irishman really didn’t want to walk these dogs. But neither did anyone else who had ankles and thumbs. So Conor would just have to suck it up, as the First Lady might succinctly put it.
After a few seconds, Conor spoke again. ‘I’m not sure how much longer I can do this, sir. It’s putting a strain on me. And my cat. She won’t sit on my lap any more. She’s thinks I’m seeing another domestic animal behind her back.’ Conor’s tone became more anxious. ‘It’s bad enough Mrs O’Brean questioning my every interaction with female work colleagues – but now even the cat is giving me the cold shoulder when I get home.’