A Pocket Full Of Haddock

The Dogsbreath Histories Book 5

Fiction - Humor/Comedy
252 Pages
Reviewed on 05/23/2024
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Olga Markova for Readers' Favorite

In A Pocket Full of Haddock by Keven Shevels, the story unfolds in 1932 at The Dirty Old Heifer pub in the village of St. Mary Mediocre, on the outskirts of Slagbottom. Named after the late husband of its current owner, Alice Clackbottom, nee Minger, the pub transforms into a crime scene when four visiting actors from an amateur dramatic society suddenly fall dead. The village sleuth, Miss Marble, is in the hospital after her Harley Davidson’s close encounter with a passing tourist. The baffled village Police Constable Big-Girl’s-Blouse calls on London’s Scotland Yard for help. Before long, Britain’s most famous Detective Inspector, Aloysius Corner, a.k.a. Corner of the Yard, and Detective Sergeant Impetigo Dogsbreath start investigating. What will they find out?

Keven Shevels’ A Pocket Full of Haddock is a unique blend of crime fiction and comedy and one of the most entertaining stories I’ve ever read. Every episode sparkles with bold, at times irreverent and provocative, but always fun humor. Every character is thoroughly developed and contributes generously to the fast-moving action. Every aspect of this amazing tall tale is carefully polished to perfection, from the names of the characters and places to the grotesque parody that combines the best of Agatha Christie’s crime dramas and Terry Pratchett’s humor. Reading this hilarious story, I felt like I was watching a great stage play. But what impressed me most is that the author donates all proceeds from this and his other Dogsbreath novels to St. Teresa’s Hospice in Darlington, England!

K.C. Finn

A Pocket Full Of Haddock is a work of fiction penned by author Keven Shevels in the humor, crime, and historical intrigue genres, and is the fifth book in The Dogsbreath Histories series. Set in 1932, this brilliantly comedic novel begins rather darkly when four men are brutally murdered in the village pub of St Mary Mediocre near Slagbottom. With local police baffled and Miss Marble, the busybody, unavailable due to a mishap, Detective Inspector Aloysius Corner of Scotland Yard steps in, leaving the crime-solving to his assistant, Detective Sergeant Impetigo Dogsbreath. However, Dogsbreath, born in Slagbottom and resentful of his return, must confront his personal history while solving the baffling case.

Author Keven Shevels has a natural gift for classic British comedy that he utilizes to its full potential here, crafting an uproarious romp through a hilariously absurd murder mystery. Shevels' witty writing and eccentric characters had me chuckling from start to finish, with so many well-timed jokes and amusing dialogue touches that I had to keep going back and re-reading to enjoy the jokes packed into every chapter. The dynamic between Detective Inspector Corner and Detective Sergeant Dogsbreath is brilliantly played with distinct comedic personas, yet there’s also more heart and emotional core to them both as they navigate the quirky parish of St Mary Mediocre. Dogsbreath's reluctance and personal history are naturally explained during the dialogue and plot events, creating an increasingly more lovable protagonist and offering moments of introspection amidst the comedic chaos. Shevels expertly blends his irreverent humor with a genuinely cleverly crafted mystery, keeping readers guessing until the very end. Overall, A Pocket Full Of Haddock is a delightful and entertaining read that I would recommend for fans of spoofs and comedic mystery novels everywhere to enjoy.

Lucinda E Clarke

in A Pocket Full of Haddock by Keven Shevels, the village of St Mary Mediocre, not far from the town of Slagbottom, is the scene of four brutally murdered men. Two officers are sent down from the Met in London to investigate; Detective Inspector Aloysius Corner of Scotland Yard and his assistant Detective Sergeant Impetigo Dogsbreath. The latter was born in Slagbottom, couldn’t wait to leave, and is very unhappy about this latest assignment. He also has to battle with Corner, who is revered the length and breadth of Britain for his amazing ability to solve cases. There are seven suspects, who were all in The Dirty Old Heifer public house at the time. To complicate matters further, all have admitted to murder. Miss Marble, the local busybody who has been solving crimes for years, is laid up in hospital having been knocked off her bike by a passing Belgian tourist. Dogsbreath is convinced all the deceased have been unlawfully dispatched, but how can he persuade his boss to agree with him and reveal the truth?

For readers familiar with Midsomer Murders and Agatha Christie, Keven Shevel’s book is a tongue-in-cheek combination of both. Miss Marble, St Mary Mediocre, and all the other characters have very bizarre names. Another reminder is the inability and intransigence of Detective Seargent Dogsbreath’s boss to listen to any common sense while leaving it to his underling to solve the case so the Inspector can take all the credit and remain Britain’s hero. The dialogue goes from the sublime to the ridiculous, from the unbelievable to the outlandish as first one suspect and then another comes under the spotlight. A Pocket Full of Haddock will mostly appeal to the British sense of humor, sprinkled with sarcasm and events and scenarios that are more familiar east of the Atlantic Ocean. A funny and entertaining book to choose for a cold, wet day.

Ankita Shukla

Book 5 in The Dogsbreath Histories, A Pocket Full Of Haddock by Keven Shevels is a laugh-out-loud story. When four men are murdered in a pub, all the villagers hold the opinion that this is a case of mass suicide. The fact that the body of each man was found in suspicious circumstances does not sway their opinion. The only person paying attention to the pieces of evidence is Detective Sergeant Dogsbreath. With his superior, the famous Detective Inspector Aloysius Corner of Scotland Yard, hellbent on closing this investigation by concluding this to be a suicide case, the sergeant's quest to find the perpetrator has become all the more difficult. The villagers' total lack of respect and cooperation further increases his frustration. Amidst this chaos, his family's proximity to the village is increasingly becoming an issue.

Although A Pocket Full Of Haddock is a part of a series, readers can enjoy it as a standalone book. The combination of murder mystery with cringe comedy was an absolute delight. The author's signature style of ridiculous names blended fabulously with the rib-tickling nonsensical opinions of the characters. Miss Marble's unbelievable ability to declare the obvious murders as unfortunate accidents or suicides continued to amuse me. The parts with people not understanding big words, sarcasm, and responding with 'bugger off' kept the comic momentum going. The book delivers what it promises - humor. I highly recommend A Pocket Full Of Haddock by Keven Shevels to readers who want a fun and light comedy that will undoubtedly relieve stress and keep a smile on their faces.

Delene Vrey

In A Pocket Full Of Haddock: The Dogsbreath Histories Book 5 by Keven Shevels, an elf, a warrior, a dwarf, and a weedy man enter a pub in Slagbottom, and soon all four are dead. As the local crime-solving busybody, Miss Marble, is in the hospital, Constable Big-Girl’s-Blouse asks the Met to help with the investigation. DS Dogsbreath is sent to start the investigation that will be done by the Corner of the Yard (aka DI Aloysius Corner of Scotland Yard). As the investigation develops, DS Dogsbreath finds it challenging to navigate the suspects, all of whom swear that they did not see who committed the crimes, if these were even crimes against the four strangers. After all, who knew the cistern would fall on a dwarf’s head and kill him or that a man could be killed by billiard balls or a lone dart to the head? When Dogsbreath insists that the four deaths were murders and he comes close to discovering the secret kept by all the villagers, Miss Marble takes charge from her hospitable bed...

A Pocketful of Haddock by Keven Shevels is a parody of the Miss Marple episode A Pocketful of Rye by Agatha Christie. It is cleverly written in the tradition of British comedy. The characters are varied, and much situational humor makes the story witty and hilariously funny. The author takes enough time to set up the scenes for the humor to be clear and successful. Although this is a funny story, the author still addresses some relevant themes, such as loyalty to family and community and how far one will go to protect the way of life in a village. Then there is the caricature of the successful Detective Inspector who has a soft stomach and almost no real investigative prowess and rides on the hard work and insight of his Detective Sergeant who does the investigating and case-solving. The reader will identify with the different characters and have a good laugh at how ridiculous some people act, as well as how naive others can be. The Dogsbreath Histories are stand-alone stories in the Dogsbreath saga and need not be read in order.