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I'm a total sucker for dog books, especially when they don't get killed off at the end. And from the very first chapter, I knew this was a story I wanted to read all the way through. Something about the voice having an authentic feel to it. "Tell you what" smattered throughout as Mason Buttle's catch-phrase. But not overdone. Mason is a tall, sweaty, can't-read-much boy who longs to belong. His best friend died months ago and the local lieutenant thinks poor Mason had something to do with it. Through the care of his Uncle Drum, Grandma, a wonderful social worker at school, Ms. Blinny, and a caring neighbor mom who asks him to watch their dog whenever they're away, the truth finally comes out. At times the story lags a bit (he and a small neighbor boy Chumsky find an old-time food pantry and turn it into a hideout based on the French caves of Lascaux) but Leslie Connor always has a reason for each deatil. Even out-of-place Shayleen, a character I thought should have been cut, serves a purpose by the end of the story. A satisfying read with all the subplots neatly tied up by the end. 4.5 stars.

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