Pages & Paws

Writing, Reading, and Rural Life With a Border Collie

‘Little Dirt Road’ Offers PNW Pizzaz


Little Dirt Road

Bad Men on Whidbey Island

By Ted Mulcahey, 2022

Genre: Fiction

Pages: 242

Via: Book Blog Tour

Note: We received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Kimber the Magnificent here.

Bet you’re wondering why Mom and I agreed to jump on the blog tour for this murder mystery/action/adventure thingy. Glad you asked. We joined for two main reasons:

  1. The sub-title. As Californian transplants to the Pacific Northwest, Mom and I know exactly where Whidbey Island is. Ditto Bellevue, San Diego, and most of the other West Coast settings for this clever action/adventure/whodunit. But the Real Reason for joining the tour? See below:
  2. Emma the German shepherd. (You know who voted for that furry friend, right?)


The Story

Kevin and Jenne (“Jenny”) O’Malley are “trouble magnets.” You won’t find that on their business cards. But the Washington-based interior designers seem to draw trouble wherever they go, even on vacation. That’s what happens when a cantankerous ex-client turns up dead in their room at a swank lodge in Napa Valley.

Robbie Burns is an “ethically challenged” car dealership owner rolling in clover. He’s an ex-O’Malley client and not exactly a warm and fuzzy guy. So why is he tailing the O’Malleys to Napa? More importantly, how did Burns wind up a murder victim, and why? Also, what’s up with the missing real estate big shot? Or the Anasazi? And why didn’t Burns’ contractor finish the drywall on Burns’ cavernous barn?

These questions and more swirl throughout the pages of this taut, intense and surprising whodunit. In fact, the O’Malleys’ lives are about to become infinitely more complicated when a notorious drug lord and a “nondescript enforcer” invade their peaceful Pacific Northwest island with murderous intent.


Quick & Quirky

Sorting through the facts with their trusted friend, Bellevue Detective Bill Owens, the O’Malleys get more than they bargained for as they unravel a tale with legs in Mexico, Canada, and Puget Sound. It’s a quick and quirky adventure for two interior designers who just want to focus on interior designing. Sort of.   


We’ve been to many of the places mentioned in the book. So it took us down a bit of memory lane, enlivened with vivid and accurate descriptions. Solid writing, intriguing characters and a nimble plot keep the action humming.

Bring a Truck

Speaking of “humming,” if you drive down Little Dirt Road, better bring a truck. A big one. You’ll need it to haul around the truck load of characters, back stories, connections, locales and such as you run from Seattle to San Diego to Vegas and Vancouver, Utah, Puget Sound, and the slums of Mexico. You may want to pack a lunch. And a rain coat. Take it from us, bub. Sunshine is “an anomaly around Seattle.” Got that right.

We might’ve scored this novel higher, but it fell short in four main areas:

  1. Emma’s appearance as the O’Malley’s faithful canine companion was way too brief. Like about a nano second. So disappointing.
  2. The gratuitous profanity stuff got really old, really fast. Aka: Language Clean-Up on Aisle 9.
  3. Pot shots launched at one side of the political aisle neither enhance nor advance the story. Lose ‘em.
  4. The text would benefit from another proofread to clean up some typos and usage issues, etc. (“…meeting out punishment”? Page 93.)

While Little Dirt Road has its moments as a spirited ride and we thoroughly enjoyed the settings, it’s just not our bowl of kibble.

Our Rating: 3.0


About the Author:

Author Ted Mulcahey has also penned another novel, “Juiced.”

Ted Mulcahey has lived throughout the US, the past 35 years in the Pacific Northwest. He’s an Army vet, sales and marketing VP, entrepreneur, business owner, avid reader, one of nine children, former caddie, and lover of dogs and golf. The last twenty-five years were spent in partnership with his wife Patte, as the owners of a highly respected and published hospitality interior design firm in the Seattle Area. They’re now living on Whidbey Island and enjoying its rural bliss.

Ted writes about things he’s seen and places he’s been. He tries to incorporate personality traits of people he’s known into his fictional characters, although none of them exist in reality. Many of the locations are real but the names have been changed.


2 thoughts on “‘Little Dirt Road’ Offers PNW Pizzaz

  1. Nice review, Kimber! I have always wanted to visit Whidbey Island, so this appeals to me. I’m sorry that Emma didn’t make a more active role in the book!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s