Friday, 27 January 2017

The Case of the Disappearing Dog

Welcome to the shadowy and not-so-shadowy space behind Sally's books. If you're not familiar with this blog, scroll down to see what it's all about.

The Case of the Disappearing Dog (Post 27)
The Case of the Disappearing Dog (2001) originally had another title, but in this case I can't recall it. If I remember, *I'll amend the post. The story of Jilly Randall, her family and the dog they know as OB, short for Old Butterpaws, had its roots in one of those minor mysteries that beset families. We've had a few in our lives, including the disappearance of a sanding block which vanished between its purchase and the (short) car ride home, the loss of a pair of brand new bathers (purple check, if I recall correctly) which disappeared during a (short) walk to the river and never were found. Things that get lost in this fashion are bewildering enough, but what of the things that appear? We acquired at least two towels which weren't ours but which no one else ever claimed, and then there was a smooth wooden implement that looked like a drumstick (my dad played the drums in the 1930s, but it couldn't possibly have been his). The oddity that inspired this book, though was a red rubber ball. It wasn't the usual sort of bouncy plastic ball our kids played with, but was made of solid rubber. It was red, and obviously quite old because it was faded and had a pitted surface. We had no idea where it had come from; it was just there, lying on a garden path, lurking on the lawn, getting tossed or kicked aside from time to time. It hung around for weeks, and then one day it just wasn't there anymore.

The case of the red rubber ball combined in my brain with maths one of the children was studying and (of all things) ranunculi, which I must have been planting in the garden. There was also the clause 'X was always looking for someone to blame'. I can't remember where that came from, but there it was in my mind. These matters came together to give my Jilly Randall and her dog, who tended to cause problems which riled her mum. Then there was a science-fiction-writing landlord. Jilly's troubles increased when a red rubber ball appeared out of nowhere, and when OB vanished, and reappeared without benefit of an open gate. The solution to the mystery involved time-travel, a second person claiming OB as his dog and some fancy footwork from all concerned.

I have liked science fiction for as long as I remember, and I'm also interested in dogs, and in this book I combined those fascinations, as well as my partiality for gardens. I seem to remember planning to write a sequel for this one, but for some reason I never did. The Case of the Disappearing Dog has been out of print for years, but it does sometimes show up on eBay. Its brilliantly-coloured cover means it's difficult to miss.      

* I'm pretty sure the original title was Dimension 4.

About the Blog

Sally is Sally Odgers; author, manuscript assessor, editor, anthologist and reader. (Sally is me, by the way, and I am lots of other things too, but these are the relevant ones for now.) The goal for 2017 is to write a post a day profiling the background behind one of my books; how it came to be written, what it's about, and any things of note that happened along the way. If you're an author, an aspiring author, a reader or just someone who enjoys windows into worlds, you might find this fun. This preamble will be pasted to the top of each post, so feel free to skip it in future. The books are not in any special order, but will be assigned approximate dates, and pictures, where they exist. 


  1. Another fascinating look at the birth of a book. When people are wondering where writers get their ideas from it's obvious to all who already write - life is already handing a writer things to write about. Random ideas come together and feel completely right, to write about.

    1. Indeed... and so many disparate things can blend into one book.


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