The Case of the Ill-Gotten Goat ~ Claudia Bishop

Summary:  72-year-old Dr. McKenzie, country vet and owner of Cases Closed Detective Agency, knows something is wrong when milk inspector Melvin Staples is found dead floating in a milk vat.  He begins to dig deeper into the case and the mystery becomes more personal.  90-something-year-old Doucetta is the owner of Tre Sorelle Goat Creamery, where the murder took place.  She seems to have a grudge against every human being and never cooperates with the investigation.  Every possible suspect has an alibi for the time of the murder, which leads the Dr. to rule them out and have to interview his own friends and family.  (It’s a very small town.)  And worst of all, the attacks aren’t stopping; more murders and other crimes prove that someone is determined to bring down Tre Sorelle!  Dr. McKenzie won’t stop investigating until he solves the case, even if he ends up crossing paths with danger on more than one occasion.

Recommendation:  Words are wonderful things.  They can make an argument sound smarter than it really is, they can give you a better grade on your English assignment, they can even make you sound smart as you fill your speech with interesting, complex words.  As the main character of Ill-Gotten Goat certainly has a way with words, the pages are full of cool-sounding ones.  Listen: consortium.  Triumvirate.  And my favorite sounding word from this book, phlegmatic.  What does that even mean?  (No, it does not mean full of mucus.  See below the Favorite Passage section.)  A few more literary treasures I found include obdurate, tete-a-tete, and the phrase “nefarious hijinks.”  Words always appeal to me when they roll off the tongue satisfyingly (even when not said out loud), like phlegmatic.  Just say it to see what I mean!  I also enjoy discovering new words to use as insults, such as “You nefarious hijink!  You are an obdurate and phlegmatic tete-a-tete.”  Now, if you know the definitions of these words, that sentence makes absolutely no sense.  But it sounds great, doesn’t it?  Back to the book.  Even though the cover makes the book appear an easy read, or even childish, the content is nothing of the sort.  Claudia Bishop uses complex and formal language, which is perfectly tailored to the main character’s dialogue.  The mystery that carries the plot is intriguing and certainly kept me interested the whole way through.  And best of all: I couldn’t guess who the murderer was… darn it!  I bet you can’t guess who the murderer is, either.

Favorite Passage:  “‘Did you assault Brian Folk with a pie?’ Brian Folk leaned against a nearby booth, his arms folded across his chest.  ‘You bet I did.’  ‘She admits it!’  Brian Folk said with a vicious smirk.  ‘In front of witnesses, too.’  Simon leaned down and banged his forehead gently against the table.  ‘I wish,’ Madeline added sunnily, ‘that it had been a larger pie.  It was more of a tart, really.'”


Consortium:  any association, partnership, or union.

Triumvirate:  any group or set of three.

Phlegmatic:  not easily excited to action or display of emotion.

Obdurate:  stubbornly refusing to change one’s opinion or course of action.

Tete-a-tete:  a private conversation between two people.  (Literally, head-to-head.)

Nefarious:  wicked or criminal.

Hijink:  noisy and mischievous merrymaking.


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