“There are pugs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art!

Hope McNeill has worked at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for years, but this is the first time she’s been able to bring along her pug, Max. (Officially at least. Previously she’s had to smuggle him in inside her tote bag.)

The occasion: a special “Pug Night” party in honor of a deep-pocketed donor. Max and his friends are having a ball stalking the hors d’oeuvres and getting rambunctious, and making Hope wonder if this is also the last time she gets to bring Max to the museum.

But when a prized painting goes missing, the Met needs Hope’s–and Max’s–help. In her quest for the culprit, Hope searches for answers with an enigmatic detective, a larger-than-life society heiress, a lady with a shih tzu in a stroller, and her arguably intuitive canine. With luck, she’ll find some inspiration on her trips to Pug Hill before the investigation starts going downhill…”

‘A Pug’s Tale’ is the sequel to Alison Pace’s novel ‘Pug Hill’ and continues the story of Metropolitan Museum of Art fine art restorer Hope McNeil. The book begins with Hope’s joy at finally having a legitimate reason to bring her beloved pug Max into work – her boss is organising a Pug Night in honour of socialite and infamous pug lover Daphne Markham, who he’s hoping will make a large donation to the museum. When Max disgraces himself by chasing Daphne’s precious pug Madeline, Hope takes him downstairs to the curators’ room to calm down. It’s there she discovers a very good fake of one of the museum’s most prestigious paintings, and upon checking the gallery, finds an empty space on the wall and realises that the original picture has been stolen!

Hope now faces a race against time to discover the culprit and restore the picture to the museum before anyone notices that the painting is a fake.

The tale’s mystery component was gentle and intriguing, and the scavenger hunt which ensues entertaining; but there was no real excitement or danger in the book which would have enhanced it for me. There also weren’t quite enough potential suspects for my liking.

I liked Hope: she was kind and very normal – the kind of girl I’d happily be friends with, and what a fantastic job! I loved the light smattering of art information which littered the book: it was captivating and a lovely ‘extra’, which was very relevant to the story. Setting the novel, for the most part, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art was an inspired idea; I loved reading about how a museum operates behind the scenes. Though I would have liked to have known a little more about Hope’s colleagues, and I must confess, I suspect that I would have enjoyed the book even more if I’d read ‘Pug Hill’ first.

Max the pug was just adorable; I’ve never really understood the lure of pugs before, but after this I am sorely tempted to get one! The canine element to the story was certainly original, and I did enjoy it to an extent; however, when we started having pugs displaying psychic abilities and giving their mistresses messages in their dreams, it all became a bit much, and took away from the realism of the mystery which was a shame I think.

I wasn’t sure about the author’s decision to have the protagonist’s boyfriend in a different country. Whilst this gave more room for the story of the art thief to be centre stage, it also meant that I didn’t really know much about her partner, and so was not particularly affected by any problems that they had in their relationship.

I am now officially a pug lover thanks to Alison Pace. I would advise readers to get hold of a copy of ‘Pug Hill’ before ‘A Pug’s Tale’ as I suspect reading the prequel would enhance the enjoyment of this novel. ‘A Pug’s Tale’ was a charming and engaging ode to a very lovable breed of dog with a very entertaining mystery included. It was imaginative and I found the museum setting fascinating. I’ll be picking up the prequel as soon as possible.

3 and a half stars

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