Napoleon Bones


If you’ve ever loved a dog, particularly a rescue brak of dubious parentage, you simply must read Napoleon Bones by Jenny Hobbs.  The title character is a street-wise and super smart police dog, part golden retriever, part ridgeback, part SPCA all-sorts. He’s a deep thinker, a gourmet eater, a lusty sower of wild oats, and a loyal and courageous partner.  His chosen policeman is Rusty Gordon, or Big G, a young newly qualified constable, with excellent police skills and zero luck with the ladies.  The trio is completed by Rusty’s partner Spike, a ‘gay Malay’ computer whiz with depressive tendencies, who’s dating a South African Airways steward with a side-line in smuggling.

Together, Bones, Big G and Spike beat the streets of Cape Town, from Khayelitsha to Rondebosch.  They’re determined to prove themselves, and succeed admirably – busting a drug lord and his minions, rescuing a Madam in distress, nabbing tsotsis and tik-heads, saving a truck load of dogs destined for pit-fighting, and extracting several people from burning buildings.  But their nemesis is the Blackjacks, a professional and deadly jewel heist gang that manages to stay one step ahead of the long arm of the law.

Will Bones’ highly advanced olfactory skills secure the Blackjack’s downfall?  Will Big G get over his blushes and stammers and in the presence of the female species? Will Spike’s Fransie turn out to be a pawn in an international crime syndicate.  It’s a funny old life with no guarantees, but with Napoleon Bones on the side of the good guys, everything is bound to turn out all right in the end.

This is a delightful book, packed with humour, compassion and wry observation.  It’s robustly South African, rich with slang, skollies, and bergies, and paints a vivid picture of Cape Town’s leafy boulevards and dusty townships.  Napoleon is absolutely convincing as a narrator – his mighty intelligence and deductive powers had me wondering what my own dogs might be capable of (although I suspect they may be stoepkakkers).  Read this book with your hounds nearby – you’ll want to reach out and cuddle them every couple of chapters.

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