My name is Steve Levitan, and my day always begins with Rochester. Some dogs let their parents sleep in, or have a doggie door they can use to do their business outside. I’m not so lucky. My big, goofy golden retriever needs multiple walks every day, from early in the morning until just before bedtime.

I don’t mind, though. When I first met Rochester, he was living with my next-door neighbor, and I thought he was just too big, too friendly, too much to handle. Then she was killed, and he moved in with me—temporarily, just a favor to my best friend, the police detective here in Stewart’s Crossing.

But Rochester has a personality that draws you in. He’s enthusiastic and happy and curious, common traits in a golden retriever. Pretty quickly I knew he had to stay with me, and honestly, he helped me learn to love again after the breakup of my marriage.

Once Rochester and I have walked a full circuit of River Bend, the gated community in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, where we live, it’s time for both of us to eat breakfast. One of the dog training manuals I read soon after I adopted Rochester said that I should always eat first, to solidify my position as the alpha of the household.

That didn’t last long. Usually I dish up his kibble and I eat a chocolate chip muffin while he’s chowing down. He’s always finished first, though.

Because Rochester was traumatized by the loss of his first human parent, I like to take him with me to work, so I’ve always chosen jobs where he could accompany me. First as a computer guy with the fund-raising department at Eastern College, where I got my undergraduate degree, and now at the college’s Friar Lake Conference Center. It’s a collection of stone buildings that was once an abbey, and now I run executive education programs there.

While I work, Rochester usually snoozes in my office, a small stone building that once served as the abbey’s gatehouse, but we always take time for long walks around the hilltop location, surrounded by woods full of interesting smells.

Then it’s back home for dinner and more walking, and maybe a play date with Rascal, the Australian Shepherd who lives with my best friend Rick, the police detective in our town. Rick calls Rochester the “death dog” because he’s found a couple of bodies, and sometimes I think Rick resents the way that Rochester finds clues that escape the limited senses of us humans. But that doesn’t stop Rick from asking for my help, whether it’s looking up online information or using Rochester’s natural charm to convince a witness or suspect to speak up.

Of course, this describes a usual day, not one where Rochester and I are nosing out clues to a variety of crimes, from extortion to kidnapping to murder. But I’ll leave those days to the Golden Retriever mysteries.


You can read more about Steven and Rochester in Dog is in the Details, the eighth book in the “Golden Retriever” mystery series.

When a young man suffering from mental illness disrupts the blessing of the animals at Steve Levitan’s synagogue, he and his golden retriever Rochester are launched into an investigation that will take Steve back into the past of his family, his congregation, and the Jewish population of the city where he was born.

In this 8th of the golden retriever mysteries, Steve and Rochester nose out suspects and dig up clues to present-day crimes—and ones in the past which still influence the living. From the rabbi’s Talmud study group to a homeless shelter in Trenton, our two intrepid sleuths are on the trail of someone with deep secrets, and the will to kill to protect them.

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Meet the author
Neil Plakcy has written or edited over three dozen novels and short stories in mystery, romance and erotica. His golden retriever mystery series was inspired by his first golden, Samwise. Long walks with his current goldens give him plenty of time to think up new crimes and solutions—and Brody and Griffin provide love, entertainment, and endless piles of fur on the floor.

His website is goldenretrievermysteries.com.

All comments are welcomed.

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