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Forge Books That Will Get You In the Holiday Spirit!

‘Tis the season for some holiday reading! Whether you’re on the hunt for a timely book to gift someone this holiday season or you’re in the mood to read something perfectly fit for the most wonderful time of the year, Forge is here to provide festive reads that are sure to deck your halls! We’re making a list (and checking it twice), none are naughty and all are nice! Read below to see what books to either read and/or gift this year to help you get in the holiday spirt!


A Dog’s Perfect Christmas and The Dogs of Christmas by W. Bruce Cameron

A Dog's Perfect Christmas

The Dogs of Christmas
Is there anything more precious than sweet puppies at Christmas? Two perfect gifts, A Dog’s Perfect Christmas and The Dogs of Christmas are charming and heartwarming holiday tales that explores the power of love, trust, and what can happen when family members open their hearts to new possibilities. From W. Bruce Cameron, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Dog’s Purpose!

Up on the Woof Top and It’s a Wonderful Woof by Spencer Quinn

Up on the Woof Top
It's a Wonderful Woof

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chet the dog, “the most lovable narrator in all of crime fiction” (Boston Globe) and his human partner Bernie Little find themselves in the midst of two thrilling holiday adventures! A wonderful bundle of books to either give as a gift this year, or to snuggle up with while you read by the light of the Christmas tree.

A Bathroom Book for People Not Pooping or Peeing But Using the Bathroom as an Escape by Joe Pera; illustrated by Joe Bennett

A Bathroom Book for People Not Pooping or Peeing but Using the Bathroom as an Escape
Okay, so we know this isn’t a conventional holiday-themed pick, but hear us out: how many times have you sat at the holiday dinner table and silently wished for an escape from whatever awkward conversation your dear old aunt was trying to rope you into? That’s why the Bathroom Book is perfect for this time of year! A USA Today bestseller, the cozy comedy of Joe Pera meets the darkly playful illustrations of Joe Bennett in A Bathroom Book for People Not Pooping or Peeing But Using the Bathroom as an Escape, a funny, warm, and sincere guide to regaining calm and confidence when you’re hiding in the bathroom.

An Irish Country Christmas by Patrick Taylor

An Irish Country Christmas
Just in time for the holidays, An Irish Country Christmas from beloved author Patrick Taylor presents a new look for the beloved New York TimesUSA Today, and Globe and Mail bestselling series! This book has all the cozy vibes and is absolutely perfect for curling up with under a warm blanket this winter!

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Forge Your Own Holiday Reading Party

The end of the year is fast approaching, which means it’s time to get in the holiday spirit! To help you plan your very own festive reading list, we’ve compiled a number of Forge books that we think are perfectly fitting for this time of year!


An Irish Country Yuletide by Patrick Taylor

An Irish Country Yuletide-1Nothing says “happy holidays” more than An Irish Country Yuletide by Patrick Taylor, which will give you all the cozy vibes as you read this while curled up next to the fireplace!

December 1965. ‘Tis the season once again in the cozy Irish village of Ballybucklebo, which means that Doctor Fingal Flahertie O’Reilly, his young colleague Barry Laverty, and their assorted friends, neighbors, and patients are enjoying all their favorite holiday traditions: caroling, trimming the tree, finding the perfect gifts for their near and dear ones, and anticipating a proper Yuletide feast complete with roast turkey and chestnut stuffing. There’s even the promise of snow in the air, raising the prospect of a white Christmas.

Not that trouble has entirely taken a holiday as the season brings its fair share of challenges as well, including a black-sheep brother hoping to reconcile with his estranged family before it’s too late, a worrisome outbreak of chickenpox, and a sick little girl whose faith in Christmas is in danger of being crushed in the worst way.

As roaring fireplaces combat the brisk December chill, it’s up to O’Reilly to play Santa, both literally and figuratively, to make sure that Ballybucklebo has a Christmas it will never forget!

A Dog’s Perfect Christmas by W. Bruce Cameron

A Dog's Perfect ChristmasIf you’re a Hallmark Christmas movie lover during this time of year, then we think that A Dog’s Perfect Christmas by W. Bruce Cameron is nothing short of a perfect pick for you!

The problems fracturing the Goss family as Christmas approaches are hardly unique, though perhaps they are handling them a little differently than most people might. But then a true emergency arises, one with the potential to not only ruin Christmas, but everything holding the family together.

Is the arrival of a lost puppy yet another in the string of calamities facing them, or could the little canine be just what they all need?

A Dog’s Perfect Christmas is a beautiful, poignant, delightful tale of what can happen when family members open their hearts to new possibilities. You’ll find love and tears and laughter—the ideal holiday read.

A Bathroom Book For People Not Pooping or Peeing but Using the Bathroom as an Escape by Joe Pera, illustrated by Joe Bennett

A Bathroom Book for People Not Pooping or Peeing but Using the Bathroom as an Escape-1While this book isn’t specifically holiday-themed, it is absolutely perfect for helping you get through the stress that comes along with holiday-prepping…and perhaps seeing relatives at the dinner table that aren’t quite your favorite people.

Joe Pera goes to the bathroom a lot. And his friend, Joe Bennett, does too. They both have small bladders but more often it’s just to get a moment of quiet, a break from work, or because it’s the only way they know how to politely end conversations.

So they created a functional meditative guide to help people who suffer from social anxiety and deal with it in this very particular way. Although, it’s a comedic book, the goal is to help these readers:

  1. Relax
  2. Recharge
  3. Rejoin the world outside of the bathroom

It’s also fun entertainment for people simply hiding in the bathroom to avoid doing work.

A Bathroom Book for People Not Pooping or Peeing But Using the Bathroom as an Escape will be waiting in the bathroom like a beacon for anxious readers looking to feel calm, confident, and less alone.

It’s a Wonderful Woof by Spencer Quinn

It's a Wonderful WoofSuspense, a holiday adventure, buried secrets, and the most lovable dog sidekick all wrapped up in one story with a bow on top? Count us in!

Holiday time in the Valley, and in the holiday spirit—despite the dismal shape of the finances at the Little Detective Agency—Bernie refers a potential client to Victor Klovsky, a fellow private eye. It’s also true that the case—promising lots of online research but little action—doesn’t appeal to Bernie, while it seems perfect for Victor, who is not cut out for rough stuff. But Victor disappears in a rough-stuff way, and when he doesn’t show up at his mom’s to light the Hanukkah candles, she hires Chet and Bernie to find him.

They soon discover that Victor’s client has also vanished. The trail leads to the ruins of a mission called Nuestra Señora de los Saguaros, dating back to the earliest Spanish explorers. Some very dangerous people are interested in the old mission. Does some dusty archive hold the secret of a previously unknown art treasure, possibly buried for centuries? What does the Flight into Egypt—when Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus fled Herod—have to do with saguaros, the Sonoran desert cactus?

No one is better than Chet at nosing out buried secrets, but before he can, he and Bernie are forced to take flight themselves, chased through a Christmas Eve blizzard by a murderous foe who loves art all too much.

Her Perfect Life by Hank Phillippi Ryan

Her Perfect Life-1Are you someone who would rather skip traditional holiday books and instead read thrillers all year round, even after Halloween has come and gone? If so, then look no further than Her Perfect Life by Hank Phillippi Ryan.

Everyone knows Lily Atwood—and that may be her biggest problem. The beloved television reporter has it all—fame, fortune, Emmys, an adorable seven-year-old daughter, and the hashtag her loving fans created: #PerfectLily. To keep it, all she has to do is protect one life-changing secret.

Her own.

Lily has an anonymous source who feeds her story tips—but suddenly, the source begins telling Lily inside information about her own life. How does he—or she—know the truth?

Lily understands that no one reveals a secret unless they have a reason. Now she’s terrified someone is determined to destroy her world—and with it, everyone and everything she holds dear.

How much will she risk to keep her perfect life?

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5 Books to Read that Take Place During the Holidays

The winter season is upon us, and what better way to celebrate than reading a book that takes place during the holidays! From Christmas in the cozy Irish village of Ballybucklebo to New Year’s Eve in Gilded Age Manhattan, these books are sure to get you in the holiday spirit.


Image Place holder  of - 5It’s a Wonderful Woof by Spencer Quinn

Holiday time in the Valley, and in the holiday spirit—despite the dismal shape of the finances at the Little Detective Agency—Bernie refers a potential client to Victor Klovsky, a fellow private eye. It’s also true that the case—promising lots of online research but little action—doesn’t appeal to Bernie, while it seems perfect for Victor, who is not cut out for rough stuff. But Victor disappears in a rough-stuff way, and when he doesn’t show up at his mom’s to light the Hanukkah candles, she hires Chet and Bernie to find him.

They soon discover that Victor’s client has also vanished. The trail leads to the ruins of a mission called Nuestra Señora de los Saguaros, dating back to the earliest Spanish explorers. Some very dangerous people are interested in the old mission. Does some dusty archive hold the secret of a previously unknown art treasure, possibly buried for centuries? What does the Flight into Egypt—when Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus fled Herod—have to do with saguaros, the Sonoran desert cactus?

No one is better than Chet at nosing out buried secrets, but before he can, he and Bernie are forced to take flight themselves, chased through a Christmas Eve blizzard by a murderous foe who loves art all too much.

Image Placeholder of - 70An Irish Country Yuletide by Patrick Taylor

December 1965. ‘Tis the season once again in the cozy Irish village of Ballybucklebo, which means that Doctor Fingal Flahertie O’Reilly, his young colleague Barry Laverty, and their assorted friends, neighbors, and patients are enjoying all their favorite holiday traditions: caroling, trimming the tree, finding the perfect gifts for their near and dear ones, and anticipating a proper Yuletide feast complete with roast turkey and chestnut stuffing. There’s even the promise of snow in the air, raising the prospect of a white Christmas.

Not that trouble has entirely taken a holiday as the season brings its fair share of challenges as well, including a black-sheep brother hoping to reconcile with his estranged family before it’s too late, a worrisome outbreak of chickenpox, and a sick little girl whose faith in Christmas is in danger of being crushed in the worst way.

As roaring fireplaces combat the brisk December chill, it’s up to O’Reilly to play Santa, both literally and figuratively, to make sure that Ballybucklebo has a Christmas it will never forget!

Place holder  of - 61An Irish Country Christmas by Patrick Taylor

Barry Laverty, M.B., is looking forward to his first Christmas in the cozy village of Ballybucklebo, at least until he learns that his sweetheart, Patricia, might not be coming home for the holidays. That unhappy prospect dampens his spirits somewhat, but Barry has little time to dwell on his romantic disappointments. Christmas may be drawing nigh, but there is little peace to be found on earth, especially for a young doctor plying his trade in the emerald hills and glens of rural Ireland.

Along with his senior partner, Doctor Fingal Flahertie O’Reilly, Barry has his hands full dealing with seasonal coughs and colds, as well as the occasional medical emergency. To add to the doctors’ worries, competition arrives in the form of a patient-poaching new physician whose quackery threatens the health and well-being of the good people of Ballybucklebo. Can one territory support three hungry doctors? Barry has his doubts.

But the wintry days and nights are not without a few tidings of comfort and joy. Between their hectic medical practice, Rugby Club parties, and the kiddies’ Christmas Pageant, the two doctors still find time to play Santa Claus to a struggling single mother with a sick child and not enough money in the bank. Snow is rare in Ulster, and so are miracles, but that doesn’t mean they never happen. . . .

Poster Placeholder of - 38A Dog’s Perfect Christmas by W. Bruce Cameron

The problems fracturing the Goss family as Christmas approaches are hardly unique, though perhaps they are handling them a little differently than most people might. But then a true emergency arises, one with the potential to not only ruin Christmas, but everything holding the family together.

Is the arrival of a lost puppy yet another in the string of calamities facing them, or could the little canine be just what they all need?

A Dog’s Perfect Christmas is a beautiful, poignant, delightful tale of what can happen when family members open their hearts to new possibilities. You’ll find love and tears and laughter—the ideal holiday read.

Placeholder of  -94A Resolution at Midnight by Shelley Noble

Roasted chestnuts from vendor’s carts, fresh cut spruce trees lining the sidewalks, extravagant gifts, opulent dinners, carols at St Patrick’s Cathedral, a warm meal and a few minutes shelter from the cold at one of the charitable food lines . . .

It’s Christmas in Gilded Age Manhattan.

And for the first time ever an amazing giant ball will drop along a rod on the roof of the New York Times building to ring in the New Year. Everyone plans to attend the event.

But the murder of a prominent newsman hits a little too close to home. And when a young newspaper woman, a protégé of the great Jacob Riis and old Vassar school chum of Bev’s, is the target of a similar attack, it is clear this is not just a single act of violence but a conspiracy of malicious proportions. Really, you’d think murderers would take a holiday.

Something absolutely must be done. And Lady Dunbridge is happy to oblige in A Resolution at Midnight, the third book in this delightful series.

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Inspiration, the Holidays, and Me

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Spencer Quinn’s It’s a Wonderful Woof presents a holiday adventure for Chet the dog, “the most lovable narrator in crime fiction” (Boston Globe), and his human partner, PI Bernie Little.

Spencer Quinn has joined us on the blog today to talk about what inspired this new, festive installment to the Chet & Bernie series!


What inspired me to write It’s A Wonderful Woof, the new Chet and Bernie holiday novel? I’m afraid my answer will be hidden in a thicket of digressions and caveats. For example, while it is a holiday novel, the main holiday in the story is Christmas. But there’s also a Hanukkah scene that’s one of my favorite passages in the book. Warning – be aware that the writer can never be sure of what will be a favorite passage before it’s written, and may also be mistaken even after.

Then there’s the whole issue of inspiration – where it comes from, how to make it happen, whether to trust it. And more important and also a bit chilling: is it dangerous to start exploring this territory? What if the inspiration mechanism isn’t fond of being explored, and curls up in a ball at the first sign that digging is getting near?

And what about this? Does a Christmas/Hanukkah themed novel suit the world of Chet and Bernie? Their world – for those who don’t know – is one of crime solving. Chet and Bernie are a crime solving duo out West, mostly in Arizona, if Chet has gotten that fact right. Chet, partner of Bernie, the private detective, narrates the story. Notice I didn’t say he tells the story. That’s because he’s a dog – as canine a dog as I can make him – and therefore can not talk. But as anyone who knows dogs can tell you, they have a narrative of what’s going on unspooling in their minds. That’s what’s on the page in the Chet and Bernie novels. 

Their stories – and I’m not the first to say this – have a beating heart, a spirit, an engine at the center. It’s the love between Chet and Bernie. So let’s throw some random words around, or call them key words if you like: spirit, Christmas, love, holiday, heart, Hanukkah. Presto! The theme fits the world. Like the kind of gloves that don’t need to be returned on the twenty-sixth. A solid foundation is in place. Now all that’s needed is the inspiration: Hey! How about a holiday novel with C&B?

Long bike rides are good coaxers of inspiration. So are long showers, or long swims – it’s something in the water, no doubt. Or, to take a more superficially mundane example, a call might come from an editor: “Any interest in writing a Christmas/holiday Chet and Bernie novel?” 

Bingo! Inspiration strikes again! You just have to be there.

Get your copy of It’s A Wonderful Woof—available now!

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Books to Read This Fall, Based on Your Latest Binge Watch

By Lizzy Hosty

With all the new content lately, it’s easy to get sucked into a series and binge the whole show. After catching up on the latest season of a popular show or watching an intense limited series with twists and turns, check out the books we suggest below to complement your watching experience!


If you love You then try Her Perfect Life

Image Place holder  of - 90If you use social media, then you’ve probably seen the memes from You (season 3) floating around right now. And rightfully so! This gripping series showcases what happens when charming yet awkward crushes become something even more ominous and obsession goes a little too far. If you’re a fan of You, then we promise you’ll love Hank Phillippi Ryan’s latest novel, Her Perfect Life, which is a thrilling story about a successful and beloved television reporter who has it all. But to keep it, all she has to do is protect one life-changing secret: Her own. While You poses the question: “What would you do for love?,” Her Perfect Life poses the question: “How much will she risk to keep her perfect life?” And both have the same sinister answer: “Everything.”

If you love The Undoing, then try I Don’t Forgive You

Poster Placeholder of - 80If you couldn’t get enough of watching Nicole Kidman (and her gorgeous coats) as the successful psychologist watching her world fall apart in a twisty murder mystery, then make I Don’t Forgive You your next read. Allie Ross thinks she has it all – career, family, new house in the suburbs. But it all comes crashing down when she is suspected of murdering one of her new neighbors. This page-turner about a mother’s desperate attempts to keep her life together is a ride you won’t forget. 

If you love Mare of Easttown, then try And Now She’s Gone

Placeholder of  -70After you finish watching the twists and turns of Mare of Easttown, be sure to check out And Now She’s Gone by Rachel Howzell Hall. Both Mare and Grayson Sykes have to make tough decisions to try and find people who may or may not be missing – and both will have you on the edge of your seat trying to figure out just what is the truth and what is deception.

 

If you love The Great British Baking Show, then try The Lights of Sugarberry Cove

Place holder  of - 67Are you someone who likes to try their hand at creative baking and finding new recipes? Do you have a sweet tooth that you’re always looking to satisfy? Or do you perhaps like to wind down at the end of the day by focusing on some good, wholesome content? If any of these apply to you, then we heartily suggest you check out The Lights of Sugarberry Cove by Heather Webbera delightful book about family dynamics, healing, love, small town Southern charm, good food, and a touch of lake magic. And while you’re at it, you can accompany it by watching episodes of The Great British Baking Show on Netflix because it’s equally as wholesome and endearing! 

If you love Joe Pera Talks With You, then try A Bathroom Book for People Not Pooping or Peeing but Using the Bathroom as an Escape

Image Placeholder of - 82If you’re a fan of Joe Pera’s cozy comedy Joe Pera Talks With You  on Adult Swim, then it’s a no-brainer that you’ll love his first book. Here you’ll find all the wholesome, deadpan comedy you’ve come to expect from Joe. But you’ll also be delighted to find Joe Bennett’s illustrations that bring the book to life. This charming little read will not only make you feel good, it will make you feel better. Who doesn’t love a bit of sincerity along with silliness?

If you love Hallmark holiday movies, then try An Irish Country Yuletide or It’s a Wonderful Woof

Have you found yourself ready to skip straight to the holiday season and watch cozy Christmas Hallmark movies? You are not alone! Hallmark started their Christmas countdown on October 22nd, which means it is now totally acceptable to start drinking eggnog and hanging stockings. While you sit by the fireplace, be sure to grab either It’s a Wonderful Woof by Spencer Quinn or An Irish Country Yuletide by Patrick Taylor, two delightful holiday treats!

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Excerpt: It’s a Wonderful Woof by Spencer Quinn

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Spencer Quinn’s It’s a Wonderful Woof presents a holiday adventure for Chet the dog, “the most lovable narrator in crime fiction” (Boston Globe), and his human partner, PI Bernie Little.

Holiday time in the Valley, and in the holiday spirit—despite the dismal shape of the finances at the Little Detective Agency—Bernie refers a potential client to Victor Klovsky, a fellow private eye. It’s also true that the case—promising lots of online research but little action—doesn’t appeal to Bernie, while it seems perfect for Victor, who is not cut out for rough stuff. But Victor disappears in a rough-stuff way, and when he doesn’t show up at his mom’s to light the Hanukkah candles, she hires Chet and Bernie to find him.

They soon discover that Victor’s client has also vanished. The trail leads to the ruins of a mission called Nuestra Señora de los Saguaros, dating back to the earliest Spanish explorers. Some very dangerous people are interested in the old mission. Does some dusty archive hold the secret of a previously unknown art treasure, possibly buried for centuries? What does the Flight into Egypt—when Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus fled Herod—have to do with saguaros, the Sonoran desert cactus?

No one is better than Chet at nosing out buried secrets, but before he can, he and Bernie are forced to take flight themselves, chased through a Christmas Eve blizzard by a murderous foe who loves art all too much.

It’s a Wonderful Woof will be available on October 19th, 2021. Please enjoy the following excerpt!


The Muertos throw the best Christmas party in the whole Valley. The Valley’s where we live, me and Bernie. It goes on forever in all directions, and is almost certainly in Arizona, based on things I hear from time to time. That’s not important. Is it important that the Muertos are the roughest, toughest biker gang around? Maybe to you, but not to us. The Little Detective Agency deals with the roughest and toughest every day. Little is Bernie’s last name, I’m Chet, pure and simple, and the agency’s just the two of us. Why would we need anyone else? That’s the important part.

The Muertos party takes place in their clubhouse and lasts for several days, but we usually leave before dawn on the first night. It gets pretty noisy what with the motorcycle races up and down the big staircase to the second floor, and a sort of dance on motorcycles to a tune called the hora, I believe, which I knew from a bat mitzvah where I’d come upon a forgotten tray of steak tip canapes, our departure following soon after.

Right now, as we made our way to the door, the hora amped down and Junior Ruiz, president of the Muertos, began zooming around in tight circles on his giant Harley with his wife on his shoulders and his mother on her shoulders. He braked to a stop beside us, revved the engine once or twice, and over its roar yelled, “Wanna climb up on Mama, Bernie?”

“Um,” said Bernie, “I don’t really—”

“Aw come on, Bernie,” Mama called down. “Where’s your  sense of fun?”

“Very nice of you, given the history, but—” “History? What history?”

“Didn’t you end up doing eighteen months at Northern State?” 

“Turned out as only three on account of overcrowding. Three months I can do in my sleep.”

“Which is actually how it went down, no?” said Junior’s wife.

Mama, up on Junior’s wife’s shoulders, if I haven’t made that clear, gave Junior’s wife a sort of kick in the sides with the heels of her white cowboy boots, like she was on horseback. Junior’s wife did not look like a horse. She actually looked a lot like Mama, except younger and not quite so jiggly.

“Watch your mouth, girl,” Mama said. “And besides, Bernie, I’ll never forget how nicely you busted me—especially the way Chet grabbed my pant leg, so gently.”

Grabbing perps by the pant leg is how we close our cases,  me doing the grabbing and Bernie standing by with the cuffs. I checked out Mama’s pants and wouldn’t you know? They were the exact same pants she’d been wearing that day, red leather with golden leather fringes! I remembered the taste of those golden fringes so well! Have you ever noticed how the taste of something—or even the memory of the taste—makes long-ago happenings suddenly pop up in your mind like they were just yesterday? It all came back to me: Mama lighting the fuse, the door blowing off the safe, Mama reaching inside with a lovely look on her face, so excited and alive, which was when we showed up. There’s a lot of fun to be had in this business. A strong breeze started up behind me. In practically no time I figured out it was my tail, feeling tip-top and letting all our Muertos buddies know. I couldn’t wait for . . . for whatever was going to happen after now.

A moment or two later we were  out  in the street, a dark alley,  in fact, and in the sketchiest part of South Pedroia, which is the sketchiest part of town. The sky was dim and pinkish, no moon, no stars, a typical Valley night sky. Bernie glanced back at the door to the clubhouse.

“There’s your holiday spirit, Chet,” Bernie said. “No grudges. Instead—forgiveness. Maybe not standard biker philosophy but isn’t that all the more reason to value it?” I had no idea, didn’t understand the question. But it was about bikers and I understood them very well, so no worries.

“Is forgiving possible without forgetting?” Bernie went on. He smiled at me, a pinkish smile that was a bit scary. “You’re the expert on forgiving. Fill me in.”

Forgiving? A new one on me. I was very familiar with forgetting of course, could forget like you wouldn’t believe. My takeaway? I was a good, good boy.

We turned the corner, which led to another alley, darker and sketchier than the one we’d been on. Our ride—a Porsche, but not the old one that had gone off a cliff, or  the other old  one  that got blown up, but the oldest one of all, with martini glasses painted on the fenders—sat at the end  of  the block, in a cone  of light shining from a rooftop lamp. In between us and it, we had some sort of commotion going on. We picked up the pace and headed toward the action, our MO when it comes to trouble ahead.

At first it looked like this particular commotion was all about two shadows—one big, one small—dancing a choppy kind of dance, but as we closed in we saw it was a real big dude beating up a real little one. The big dude backhanded the tiny dude across the face and the tiny dude went flying. He landed on his back, snatched up a trash can lid and held it like a shield, closing his eyes. Closing his eyes? How was that going to help? The big dude whisked the trash can lid out of his hands and flung it away. Here’s something I’ve noticed: You may be eager for whatever’s coming next, but it’s very hard to predict in this life. For example, who would have guessed that the trash can lid would now be spinning through the air just like a Frisbee! Who could blame himself for what followed? Not me, amigo. I charged after that trash can lid, sprang up, actually too high—I love when that happens—and snagged it on my way back down.

After that I trotted over to Bernie as I always do with a freshly caught Frisbee. Only . . . only a trash can lid is not a Frisbee, and Bernie was not waiting to take it, a happy smile on his face, but was turned the other way, trying to haul the big dude off the tiny one. The big dude didn’t like that. He jumped to his feet, drew back his fist, got ready to launch an enormous roundhouse punch. Oh dear. That was my thought at the moment. Not “oh dear”

on account of Bernie being in trouble and there I was, his partner, standing by with a trash can lid in my mouth—although let me point out that I quickly dropped the trash can lid and got right back to looking like a total pro. But my “oh dear” was more about disappointment at the big guy’s technique. An enormous windup like his meant the fight was already over. Bernie stepped inside and threw that sweet, sweet uppercut. Click! Right on the point of a too-large chin. Not bang or boom, but simply a click, very neat and tidy. Then came the part I love the best, how speedily Bernie’s fist gets back to the starting position, just as speedy as the actual punch or even speedier, in case another uppercut was needed—which would still be a first, in my experience. Meanwhile the big guy’s eyes were rolling up and he was slumping down, one of those interesting sights you see in our line of work. And all at once I understood what humans meant when they said they were having an up and down kind of day! Wow! You could learn so much in this life just by being there.

I trotted over to the big guy and barked, not loudly, simply sending a message. I’m here too, buddy boy. Bernie glanced over at me and now came that happy smile. “Can’t believe you caught that thing,” he said. “One of your very best.”

So I’d done good after all! What a break, just one lucky day after another, starting with the day I’d met Bernie, which was also the same day I’d washed out of K-9 school—and on the very last test, namely leaping, my very best thing! How had that happened? Was a cat somehow involved? I thought so, but the details had grown dim. None of that mattered. We were partners, me and Bernie, case closed. Whoa! Aren’t cases closed with me grabbing the perp by the pant leg? For just a second I had the crazy idea of grabbing Bernie’s! No way I could let that happen, so in order to direct my teeth into something good and useful, I turned to the big dude. Still in dreamland. Was there any point in grabbing his pant leg? Not that I could see. I was a bit confused. My tail drooped. Oh no! I got it back up there, and in no uncertain terms. At that point, Bernie looked down at the tiny dude and this strange confused interlude went pop like a soap bubble. The fun I’ve had chasing those around! But no time for that now.

Bernie bent down, looked closer. “Victor?” he said. “Is that you?”

My goodness! Victor Klovsky, for sure. He had an inky smell you didn’t run into often with humans, except for old ones, and Victor wasn’t old. He had a scruffy beard without a trace of white, a narrow face, now somewhat mashed up, and, behind the thick lenses of his glasses, eyes that were always on the nervous side. Right now the glasses weren’t quite in place, but were kind of twisted and hung off one ear. He’d looked a lot better the last time I’d seen him, at the Great Western Private Eye Convention where Bernie had given the keynote speech. Easy to remember since Victor was one of the few remaining in the audience when Bernie’s speech came to an end. Wait. I take that back. There was still a big big audience. I just happened to spot Victor in the crowd. The point is that Victor is in the same business as we are! Sort of.

“Bernie?” he said. “What are you doing here?”

“Right back atcha.” Bernie removed Victor’s glasses, straightened them out, gently replaced them on Victor’s face.

Victor blinked a couple of times and then groaned. It hurt him to blink? You didn’t see that every day. There are a lot of tough guys and gals in our line of work. Victor wasn’t one of them.

“I’m on a case.” Victor sounded a little annoyed. “What else would I be doing?”

“I thought your MO was all about working online and then calling in Valley PD for the heavy lift—um, for the mopping up.” “I’m branching out,” Victor said. He wiped his nose on the back of his hand, saw a faint reddish smear. His eyes opened

wide. “Oh my god—I’m bleeding!”

Bernie peered closer. “It doesn’t actually look too—”

Victor grabbed Bernie’s wrist. The sight of Victor’s small, delicate hand wrapped around—or partly wrapped around—Bernie’s  mighty wrist said something to me. I didn’t know what but at the same time knew I would never forget it. Funny how the mind works.

“Bernie! Am I lacerated? Do I need stitches?”

“Don’t know about lacerated,” Bernie said. “I’m not even sure of the definition, but—”

“Lacerate, for god’s sake, from the Latin laceratio, a tearing, rending, mutilation. Bernie! Am I mutilated? Tell me the truth! I can take it!” Victor’s eyes filled with tears.

Bernie glanced around, patted his pockets, ended up ripping off a small strip from the hem of his shirt, the Hawaiian shirt with the surfing cats, my least favorite of Bernie’s Hawaiian shirts. He folded the strip in half and pressed it lightly to the side of Victor’s nose.

“Ouch!” said Victor.

“Just hold it there like that,” Bernie said. “You’re going to be fine.”

Victor placed his hand on a surfing cat, took over the pressing from Bernie. He winced but didn’t say ouch again.

“Who’s your friend?” Bernie said, pointing his chin at the big dude, lying in the alley, chest rising and falling peacefully.

“He’s no friend,” said Victor. “Turns out he’s a dangerous criminal.”

“Want me to cuff him?”

“Hmm,” Victor said. “Hadn’t thought of that. Would it be legal?”

Bernie gave Victor a long look. “I’ll take responsibility. Got cuffs on you?”

“On me? You mean on my person in the here and now? Afraid not. I don’t actually own any. Should I?”

“The plastic kind works fine,” Bernie said. He took a pair of cuffs from his back pocket, flipped the big guy over on his front, got him nice and cuffed in no time. Then he sat down beside Victor, resting his back against the brick wall. I sat, too, but much closer to the big guy.

“Is there a warrant out for him?” Bernie said.

“Oh, definitely. Although I didn’t know that at the time.

Meaning when I took the case. He’s an email scammer, preys mostly on little old ladies. A lot of my business is about tracking down guys like that.”

“So most of your clients are little old ladies?”

“They feel humiliated. It’s an eye-opener for some of them, brings out a sort of hidden ferocity. I’m on eggshells twenty-four seven. But with this guy it turned out the scamming was more of a fill in between jobs. He’s a truck hijacker, liquor trucks especially.”

Bernie shot Victor a sideways glance. “So what are you doing in a place like this with a guy like that?”

“Like I said, I’m branching out. I was planning on bringing him in. There’s a ten-thousand-dollar reward from the state Longhauler’s Association. Nothing to sneeze at.”

And sure enough neither of them sneezed. It turned out I was following this back and forth rather well, a bit of a surprise.

“You were planning to bring him in without cuffs?”

“I confess it slipped my mind.” Victor lowered his voice. “But I’m armed, Bernie.”

“Oh?”

Victor shifted slightly, a movement that made him groan. “Stupid thing got stuck in my back pocket. That’s when the situation began to deteriorate.”

“You have a firearm stuck in your back pocket?” “Duly licensed.”

“Is the safety on?”

“You push it forward for that? Or is it the other way?” “How did you get into this business?” Bernie said.

“I’m a researcher par excellence,” said Victor. “It seemed like a logical extension.”

“Roll over,” Bernie told him. “Slow and easy.” “Huh? What are you trying to do?”

“Clear that weapon from your pocket without killing anyone,” Bernie said.

No worries. It turned out that Victor’s gun was loaded backward, so no one could have gotten killed anyway. Next Victor discovered his phone had no service in this part of town, so Bernie lent him ours to call in. As soon as we heard the sirens, Bernie rose. I rose with him.

“Where are you going?” Victor said. “Home,” said Bernie. “It’s late.”

“But . . . but don’t you want to stay for the denouement?”

Whatever that was about delighted Bernie. A real big laugh just burst out of him. I jumped right up and got my paws on his chest, pretty delighted myself for no reason I could have explained.

“It’s your case,” Bernie said. “Merry Christmas and . . . and . . .” “Get back to doing what I do best?” said Victor.

“Something like that.”

“Good advice,” Victor said. “Taking it a little further, have you ever considered hiring anyone, especially of the information-era type?”

Bernie shook his head.

“Doesn’t it get a bit lonely, working all by yourself?”

“All by myself?” Bernie said. He didn’t get it. Neither  did I.  The big guy’s eyes fluttered open, checked things out, fluttered closed. Bernie went over to him, crouched down, and spoke quietly in his ear, an ear of what I believe is called the cauliflower type. “Don’t even consider getting up.”

Not long after that we were in the Porsche and headed into what remained of the night, just one of the many things we do best. The sound of the sirens faded down to nothing, but then popped up in another part of town. There’s lots of danger in this world, which was exactly what Bernie had told Ms. Pernick, our accountant, when she asked him to describe our business plan. Ms. Pernick had opened her eyes wide and shook her head, a human combo that comes before they say, “Wow!” Although in this case Ms. Pernick had left it unsaid.

Pre-order a Copy of It’s A Wonderful Woof—available October 19th!

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Every Forge Book Coming Fall 2021

Fall is almost upon us, which means we have a new season of books coming your way! Don your flannel shirts, grab your spiced drinks, and take a look at what Forge has to offer this fall.


September 7th

Placeholder of  -55An Irish Country Welcome by Patrick Taylor

In the close-knit Northern Irish village of Ballybucklebo, it’s said that a new baby brings its own welcome. Young doctor Barry Laverty and his wife Sue are anxiously awaiting their first child, but as the community itself prepares to welcome a new decade, the closing months of the 1960s bring more than a televised moon landing to Barry, his friends, his neighbors, and his patients, including a number of sticky questions.

A fledgling doctor joins the practice as a trainee, but will the very upper-class Sebastian Carson be a good fit for the rough and tumble of Irish country life? And as sectarian tensions rise elsewhere in Ulster, can a Protestant man marry the Catholic woman he dearly loves, despite his father’s opposition? And who exactly is going to win the award for the best dandelion wine at this year’s Harvest Festival?

But while Barry and Dr. Fingal Flahertie O’Reilly and their fellow physicians deal with everything from brain surgery to a tractor accident to a difficult pregnancy, there’s still time to share the comforting joys and pleasures of this very special place: fly-fishing, boat races, and even the town’s very first talent competition!

Now available in paperback!

September 14th

Poster Placeholder of - 26Her Perfect Life by Hank Phillippi Ryan

Everyone knows Lily Atwood—and that may be her biggest problem. The beloved television reporter has it all—fame, fortune, Emmys, an adorable seven-year-old daughter, and the hashtag her loving fans created: #PerfectLily. To keep it, all she has to do is protect one life-changing secret. Her own.

Lily has an anonymous source who feeds her story tips—but suddenly, the source begins telling Lily inside information about her own life. How does he—or she—know the truth?

Lily understands that no one reveals a secret unless they have a reason. Now she’s terrified someone is determined to destroy her world—and with it, everyone and everything she holds dear.

How much will she risk to keep her perfect life?

October 12th

Image Place holder  of - 37An Irish Country Yuletide by Patrick Taylor

December 1965. ‘Tis the season once again in the cozy Irish village of Ballybucklebo, which means that Doctor Fingal Flahertie O’Reilly, his young colleague Barry Laverty, and their assorted friends, neighbors, and patients are enjoying all their favorite holiday traditions: caroling, trimming the tree, finding the perfect gifts for their near and dear ones, and anticipating a proper Yuletide feast complete with roast turkey and chestnut stuffing. There’s even the promise of snow in the air, raising the prospect of a white Christmas.

Not that trouble has entirely taken a holiday as the season brings its fair share of challenges as well, including a black-sheep brother hoping to reconcile with his estranged family before it’s too late, a worrisome outbreak of chickenpox, and a sick little girl whose faith in Christmas is in danger of being crushed in the worst way.

As roaring fireplaces combat the brisk December chill, it’s up to O’Reilly to play Santa, both literally and figuratively, to make sure that Ballybucklebo has a Christmas it will never forget!

October 19th

Image Placeholder of - 57It’s a Wonderful Woof by Spencer Quinn

Holiday time in the Valley, and in the holiday spirit—despite the dismal shape of the finances at the Little Detective Agency—Bernie refers a potential client to Victor Klovsky, a fellow private eye. It’s also true that the case—promising lots of online research but little action—doesn’t appeal to Bernie, while it seems perfect for Victor, who is not cut out for rough stuff. But Victor disappears in a rough-stuff way, and when he doesn’t show up at his mom’s to light the Hanukkah candles, she hires Chet and Bernie to find him.

They soon discover that Victor’s client has also vanished. The trail leads to the ruins of a mission called Nuestra Señora de los Saguaros, dating back to the earliest Spanish explorers. Some very dangerous people are interested in the old mission. Does some dusty archive hold the secret of a previously unknown art treasure, possibly buried for centuries? What does the Flight into Egypt—when Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus fled Herod—have to do with saguaros, the Sonoran desert cactus?

No one is better than Chet at nosing out buried secrets, but before he can, he and Bernie are forced to take flight themselves, chased through a Christmas Eve blizzard by a murderous foe who loves art all too much.

November 2nd

Place holder  of - 89I Will Not Die Alone by Dera White, illustrated by Joe Bennett

Dera White’s I Will Not Die Alone is a hilarious, feel-good story about the end of the world. Featuring illustrations by Joe Bennett, it is a story full of realistic self-love affirmations for all of us who are just trying to get by, until we die.

November 16th

A Bathroom Book for People Not Pooping or Peeing but Using the Bathroom as an Escape by Joe Pera, illustrated by Joe Bennett

Joe Pera goes to the bathroom a lot. And his friend, Joe Bennett, does too. They both have small bladders but more often it’s just to get a moment of quiet, a break from work, or because it’s the only way they know how to politely end conversations.

So they created a functional meditative guide to help people who suffer from social anxiety and deal with it in this very particular way. Although it’s a comedic book, the goal is to help these readers:

Relax
Recharge
Rejoin the world outside of the bathroom

It’s also fun entertainment for people simply hiding in the bathroom to avoid doing work.

A Secret Never Told by Shelley Noble

Philomena Amesbury, expatriate Countess of Dunbridge, is bored. Coney Island in the sweltering summer of 1908 offers no shortage of diversions for a young woman of means, but sea bathing, horse racing, and even amusement parks can’t hold a candle to uncovering dastardly plots and chasing villains. Lady Dunbridge hadn’t had a big challenge in months.

Fate obliges when Phil is called upon to host a dinner party in honor of a visiting Austrian psychologist whose revolutionary theories may be of interest to the War Department, not to mention various foreign powers, and who may have already survived one attempt on his life. The guest list includes a wealthy industrialist, various rival scientists and academics, a party hypnotist, a flamboyant party-crasher, and a damaged beauty whose cloudy psyche is lost in a world of its own. Before the night is out, one of the guests is dead with a bullet between the eyes and Phil finds herself with another mystery on her hands, even if it’s unclear who exactly the intended victim was meant to be.

Worse yet, the police’s prime suspect is a mystery man who Phil happens to be rather intimately acquainted with. Now it’s up to Lady Dunbridge, with the invaluable assistance of her intrepid butler and lady’s maid, to find the real culprit before the police nab the wrong one . . .

Law of the Land by Elmer Kelton

Sixteen stories, where good meets bad, and everything inbetween, from the legendary author of the west, Elmer Kelton.

Law of the Land chronicles some of his most exciting and dangerous tales of the old west, collected together for the first time–including the exciting first publication of a never-before published Kelton story, Biscuits for Bandit.

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