Neil Plakcy's Golden Retriever Mysteries

I love dogs -- and dog mysteries. So it seemed natural to me to write a dog mystery myself, which is how I first began writing about Rochester and Steve.

When Rochester the golden retriever first comes into Steve Levitan's life, he's just too big, too shaggy, too wild. Steve's just taking him in, after all, for a short time, and as a favor to his high school friend, the local cop who's investigating the murder of the dog's owner.

But very quickly, Rochester has found a place in Steve's heart and begun to demonstrate his unique crimes-solving skills. Check out the dog mysteries in the series below!

In Dog We Trust (#1) The Kingdom of Dog (#2)
Dog Helps Those (#3) Dog Bless You (#4)
Whom Dog Hath Joined (#5) Dog Have Mercy (#6)
Honest to Dog (#7) Dog is in the Details (#8)
Dog Knows (#9)  
Dog's Green Earth (#10)  

Dog's Green Earth

When his golden retriever Rochester discovers a body during one of their nightly walks, reformed computer hacker Steve Levitan must look to his neighbors for suspects. Could a killer be lurking along the oak-lined streets?

Steve inherited his townhome from his father, and it's more than just a house to him-it's the place where he recovered from the loss of two miscarried babies, the pain of losing his parents and the misery of his brief incarceration. Now that he has a new sweetheart, and a loving dog, protecting his home is even more important.

Could someone in the homeowner's association be sabotaging efforts to keep River Bend a well-maintained place to live? It's up to Steve and Rochester to dig up the clues to bring a murderer to justice, and protect the place they call home.

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Dog Knows

Dog Knows When semi-reformed computer hacker Steve Levitan learns that a girl who was kind to him in high school is accused of three murders, he and his clue-sniffing golden retriever Rochester are on the case. Could sweet, ambitious Peggy Doyle be guilty of killing three husbands? Or is someone out to make it look that way?

As teens, Steve admired Peggy because of the way she fought back from a difficult childhood to travel to France and aspire to a college degree and a career as a lawyer. When he discovers she’s been addicted to drugs, danced at a strip club, and married a biker, he’s surprised. How could the girl he knew grow up to be the woman the media are calling “The Black Widow of Birch Valley?”

Can he and Rochester dig up the clues that might acquit Peggy, while avoiding the slippery slope of hacking that could cause him to lose everything he cares for? Trust Rochester to keep Steve on the straight and narrow, and bring the real killer to justice.
Available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple, Scribd, 24 Symbols, Playster, as well as Bibliotheca, Tolino, Overdrive and Baker & Taylor.

Kindle Unlimited Collections
If you belong to Amazon's Kindle Unlimited program, I hope you'll check out the collections I've put together of the first six golden retriever mysteries. (Of course, they're also offered for sale.) Three Dogs in a Row includes the first three books in the series: In Dog We Trust, The Kingdom of Dog, and Dog Helps Those. The second collection, Three More Dogs in A Row, includes the next three: Dog Bless You, Whom Dog Hath Joined and Dog Have Mercy.

In Dog We Trust

42-year-old Steve Levitan has lost everything that matters to him - his marriage, his home and his career. After finishing a brief prison term for computer hacking, he returns to his home town of Stewart's Crossing, PA with his tail between his legs.

With his parole officer peering over his shoulder, Steve begins a technical writing business and takes a part-time job as an adjunct professor of English at his alma mater, Eastern College. He reconnects with an old friend, the local police detective, hangs out at a coffee shop, and enjoys the natural beauty of Bucks County and the stimulating college environment. Starting over helps him numb the pain of all he's lost, including the two unborn children his ex-wife miscarried before their divorce.
The last thing he needs in his life is a shaggy, bossy golden retriever. But when his next-door neighbor, Caroline Kelly, is murdered, Steve becomes her dog's temporary guardian. Rochester seems determined to solve the mystery of Caroline's death, digging up clues and pushing Steve to investigate. As they nose through Caroline's past, her friends and her career searching for motives, the bond between man and dog grows.

But it's only when Steve uncovers a connection between Caroline's death and some uncomfortable situations between his students and his colleagues that Steve realizes that in order to save his own life, and the life of the dog he's come to love, he's going to have to come face to face with a killer with nothing left to lose.
Available in Kindle edition from, as a Nook book from B&N, in print from Amazon's Create Space, and in other e-formats from Smashwords and at almost any online e-book retailer including the ibookstore. The audio version is available from And by the way, the golden on the cover is my beloved Samwise, whose antics first inspired Rochester.

The Kingdom of Dog

The Kingdom of Dog picks up a few months after the end of In Dog We Trust. Eastern College is about to launch a $500 million fund-raising campaign, and Steve has been hired to handle the campaign's public relations. It's a full-time job, though only for a short term. He gets permission from his new boss to bring Rochester to work every day.

The launch party for the campaign is a great success - until Rochester discovers a dead body in the snow outside the building.

To prevent a public relations fiasco, Steve is plunged into finding out who killed the cantankerous director of admissions, with the help of his shaggy Sherlock.
Joe Dagorian had a long history with the College, and Steve and Rochester begin to dig up secrets that might be better kept buried. But is one of them worth killing for?

Could the killer be Joe's ex-wife, whose retirement plans were thwarted? The student assistant who could lose everything because of an indiscretion? Or the wealthy alumnus who's desperate to get his son admitted to Eastern?

Why are those two football players - Juan Tanamera and Jose Canusi - always hanging around? And what connection does a homeless man in town have to the College - and the case?

Rochester begins to present clues to Steve-- a bloody knife, an incriminating letter, some curious photographs. Dad and dog follow leads around the Bucks County countryside, digging into the past and disturbing old ghosts.

Will Steve's curiosity and Rochester's savvy save them when the killer comes calling? Order it in Kindle version here, as a Nook book from B&N in other e-formats from Smashwords and at almost any online e-book retailer including the ibookstore, and as a paperback here. The audio is now available from Audible.

Dog Helps Those

It's almost time for graduation, and Eastern College is in trouble. A prominent alumna is dead, and a faulty computer program is jeopardizing student records and financial aid. It's up to Steve and Rochester to dig into the situation and retrieve the culprits!

Rita Gaines wasn't a nice person-but she did love her dogs, and most of her clients respected her financial acumen and her talent in training dogs for agility trials. When she's found dead, there's a long line of potential suspects from Wall Street whiz kids to doting doggie daddies-- including one of Steve's former students.
Felae is an art prodigy now studying with Steve's girlfriend, Lili, chair of Eastern's Fine Arts department, and Rita hated his controversial senior project. When she tried to have his scholarship cancelled, he threatened to kill her. But is he the villain behind her death?

In between helping Steve's high school friend Rick track the killer, Rochester practices darting around weave poles and jumping over limbo poles while Steve helps shepherd the college toward the completion of another academic year. It's spring in Stewart's Crossing, and old friends - and their dogs-gather together to investigate and eventually, to celebrate. Order it in Kindle version here, as a Nook book from Barnes & Noble, in other e-formats from Smashwords and at almost any online e-book retailer including the ibookstore, or as a paperback.

Dog Bless You

Autumn has come to Bucks County, and Steve Levitan has a new job: develop a conference center for Eastern College at Friar Lake, a few miles from campus. But on his first visit to the property, his golden retriever Rochester makes a disturbing discovery, a human hand rising from the dirt at the lake's shore.

Whose hand is it? Why was the body buried there? The answers will take Steve, his photographer girlfriend Lili, and the ever-faithful Rochester to a drop-in center for recovering drug addicts on the Lower East Side, a decaying church in Philadelphia's Germantown, and finally to a confrontation with a desperate killer. Order it in Kindle version here, as a Nook book from Barnes & Noble, in other e-formats from Smashwords and at almost any online e-book retailer, including the ibookstore. And if you prefer the paperback you can order it from Amazon.

Whom Dog Hath Joined

Reformed computer hacker Steve Levitan still gets a thrill from snooping into places online where he shouldn't be. When his golden retriever Rochester discovers a human bone at the Friends Meeting during the Harvest Days festival, these two unlikely sleuths are plunged into another investigation.

They will uncover uncomfortable secrets about their small town's past as they dig deep into the Vietnam War era, when local Quakers helped draft resisters move through Stewart's Crossing on their way to Canada. Does that bone Rochester found belong to one of those young men fleeing conscription? Or to someone who knew the secrets that lurked behind those whitewashed walls?
Steve's got other problems, too. His girlfriend Lili wants to move in with him, and his matchmaking efforts among his friends all seem to be going haywire.

Whether the death was due to natural causes, or murder, someone in the present wants to keep those secrets hidden. And Steve and Rochester may end up in the crosshairs of a very antique rifle if they can't dig up the clues quickly enough. Amazon has the ebook and print versions, while you can find the ebook at Barnes & Noble and Smashwords and almost any online retailer, including the ibookstore.

Dog Have Mercy

In the sixth golden retriever mystery, Dog Have Mercy, Christmas approaches and reformed hacker Steve Levitan tries to help a fellow ex-con now working at the vet's office in Stewart's Crossing. His curiosity, and the crime-solving instincts of his golden retriever, Rochester, kick in when liquid potassium ampoules are stolen from the vet and Steve's new friend is a suspect.

Is this theft connected to a drug-running operation in North Philly? Or to a recent spate of deaths at the local nursing home? And can Steve continue to resist his computer-hacking impulses or will his desire to help others continue to lead him into trouble? Buy it at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords and most other online retailers.

Honest to Dog

When his college friend Doug moves to Stewart's Crossing after an ugly divorce, reformed computer hacker Steve Levitan sees a way to pay forward the help he received under similar circumstances. But when Doug dies under mysterious circumstances, Steve and his crime-solving golden retriever Rochester have a new goal: Find the truth behind Doug's death, even if Steve has to risk the freedom he has fought so hard for to do it.

Warning: contains Ponzi schemers, a Quaker funeral and cute jump drives shaped like llamas.

Click here to order the e-book from in ebook or print. Also available from Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and other e-retailers.

Dog is in the Details

In this eighth of the golden retriever mysteries, Steve explores a part of his background I hadn't looked at yet -- growing up Jewish in the Trenton suburbs. Since he has a lot in common with me (except for the whole divorce and imprisonment thing) it seemed logical that he'd share this part of my own heritage.

Years ago, I took my first golden, Samwise, to a blessing of the animals at our synagogue here in South Florida, and that seemed like a good place to start a new story, one that would lead Steve to explore his roots. A young man suffering from mental illness disrupts the blessing of the animals at the synagogue he attends, a congregation where he grew up and celebrated his bar mitzvah. This starts Steve and Rochester on their newest investigation, one that will take Steve back into the past of his family, his congregation, and the Jewish population of the city where he was born.
As Steve teaches a class in Jewish American literature, he and Rochester nose out suspects and dig up clues to present-day crimes-and ones in the past which still influence the living. From the rabbi's Talmud study group to a homeless shelter in Trenton, our two intrepid sleuths are on the trail of someone with deep secrets, and the will to kill to protect them.

You can buy the book at Amazon in e-book or print, from Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Scribd and other online retailers.
Short Stories

The original Happy Homicides. Contains my short story "Dog Forbid." Steve, Lili and Rochester journey to Amish country over Thanksgiving with Joey, Mark and Brody. The Valentine's Day edition of Happy Homicides, vol. 2. In my story, "For the Love of Dog," a young woman's body is found in the space next to Gail's cafe. Steve and Rochester return to the Happy Homicides fold with "Riding the Tiger," in which Rochester chases a cat and once again leads Steve into trouble.

Audio Books

I'm in the process of creating audio versions of many of my books, starting with the golden retriever mysteries and the Have Body, Will Guard series. All books shown are available through Audible.

First of the golden retriever mysteries. Steve and Rochester meet and begin their crime-solving partnership by investigating the death of Rochester's former owner.
Click here to purchase from Audible.
#2. Steve takes an administrative job at Eastern College, and during the kickoff for the College's fund-raising campaign, Steve's mentor is murdered.
Click here to purchase from Audible.

#3. When a college benefactor is murdered, Steve and Rochester join the world of agility training to track her killer.
Click here to purchase from Audible.
#4. Steve's new job is at Friar Lake, a college conference center, where Rochester discovers a dead body.
Click here to purchase from Audible.

#5. Rochester finds a bone behind the wall of the local Friends Meeting.
Click here to purchase from Audible.
#6. A theft at the vet's office leads Steve and Rochester on a deadly journey. Click here to purchase from Audible.

#7. Steve's college friend takes a header into the canal.
Click here to purchase from Audible.
#8 Steve investigates the death of his rabbi's brother. Click here to purchase frmo Audible.

#9. Steve's high school friend is accused of killing three husbands.
Coming soon from Audible.

Here's a map I commissioned of the part of Bucks County featured in the books.

Those who know the area will recognize Bowman's Tower, the state capitol building in Trenton, and the old library in Yardley.

I've taken some liberties, of course, placing my fictional towns of Stewart's Crossing and Leighville.


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My golden retriever mysteries have been inspired by my own goldens, Samwise, Brody and Griffin. A native of Bucks County, PA, where the books are set, I am a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia University and Florida International University, where I received my MFA in creative writing. I have written and edited many other books; details can be found at my other website,

I live with my partner, Brody and Griffin in South Florida, where I am working on the next mystery in the series, and Brody and Griffin are busy wreaking havoc somewhere in the house.