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"Boneham's knowledgeable, respectful, and loving depictions of dogs are entirely free of the anthropomorphism and sentimentality that often mar writing about animals. Firstplace with a perfect score!"

~ Susan Conant, Author of the

Holly Winter Dog Lover's Mysteries


"Aside from her gift for characterization, she plots a murder mystery with intricate details, hairpin turns and white-knuckle captivation....Boneham’s books remind us that what we see on the surface with our friends and colleagues is just that: the surface. We are all struggling with more than we show. Sometimes, the real mystery is not whodunnit? But rather, where is our humanity?"


~ Gwenyfar Rohler.

Read full review here

"Someone asked me recently why I write books about violence and death, meaning mysteries. Mysteries are not about violence. They are about justice and redemption. And while most mysteries include murder, ultimately they are about affirming life."

- Sheila Webster Boneham

Shepherd's Crook

Animals in Focus Mystery #4 -  2015




Animal photographer Janet MacPhail has just arrived at a sheep-herding competition with her Australian Shepherd, Jay, when she learns that two dozen sheep have disappeared. Police think the animals have wandered off in search of greener grass, but Janet sees and hears things that convince her the sheep's owners are right—the animals have been stolen. Janet knows she should leave the snooping to the police while she attends to her own problems—new living arrangements, her mom's wedding plans, puppy and kitten antics, and extremists bent on keeping people from having pets. But when a livestock handler turns up dead and the sheep's owner disappears, the police and a pair of thugs pay Janet way more attention than she likes. She sets out to find answers, putting herself and those she loves in the killer's crosshairs.


“A woolly tale sure to delight both animal lovers and mystery fans. Shepherd’s Crook knits together a unique setting, likable characters, and a mystery that will keep you guessing.”—Sparkle Abbey, Author of The Pamered Pets Mysteries


Animals in Focus Mystery #3 - 2014


Winner, 2015 Maxwell Award for Fiction, Dog Writers Association of America!



Animal photographer Janet MacPhail is training for her cat Leo’s first feline agility trial when she gets a frantic call about a "cat-napping." When Janet and her Australian Shepherd Jay set out to track down the missing kitty, they quickly find themselves drawn into the volatile politics of feral cat colonies, endangered wetlands, and a belligerent big-shot land developer. Janet is crazy busy trying to keep up with her mom’s nursing-home romance, her own relationship with Tom and his Labrador Retriever Drake, and upcoming agility trials with Jay and Leo. But when a body is discovered on the canine competition course, it stops the participants dead in their tracks—and sets Janet on the trail of a killer.


"Animal photographer Janet MacPhail's latest adventure will delight dog lovers, cat lovers, and mystery lovers. Janet is excellent company, and although Leo the cat plays a starring role, I'm happy to report that Leo does not eclipse Jay the Aussie, who has become one of my favorite fictional dogs. Indeed, if Jay ever needs to move out of the pages of Sheila Boneham's mysteries and into a nonfiction house, he'll be more than welcome in mine. Five stars for CATWALK!" ~ Susan Conant, Author of BRUTE STRENGTH and other novels in the Holly Winter series of Dog Lover's Mysteries




The Money Bird

Animals in Focus Mystery #2 - 2013


2014 Maxwell Award for Fiction Finalist, Dog Writers Association of America!


Once again, animal photographer Janet MacPhail and dog and cat find themselves investigating murder! Janet is photographing retrievers while Jay enjoys the lake when Labrador Retriever Drake fetches a blood-soaked bag holding an exotic feather and a torn one-hundred-dollar bill. One of Janet's photography students reports seeing a strange bird at the lake, but he turns up dead before Janet can talk to him. When she learns that the mysterious retreat center near the lake is housing large numbers of tropical birds, Janet is sure there's a connection and decides to investigate between dog-training classes, photo assignments, and visits to her mom at Shadetree Retirement. With help from her Australian Shepherd Jay and her quirky friend Goldie, Janet is determined to get to the bottom of things before another victim's wings are clipped for good.


"A photographer must rely on her loyal dog and cat companions to solve the case of a murdered colleague...Equal parts mystery and dog appreciation, with a dash of romance thrown in for good measure, this second case for Janet and her pals (Drop Dead on Recall, 2012) is accessible to fans of all three." ~ Kirkus Review




Drop Dead on Recall

Animals in Focus Mystery #1 - 2012


Winner, 2013 Maxwell Award for Fiction, Dog Writers Association of America!


When a top-ranked competitor keels over at a dog obedience trial, photographer Janet MacPhail is swept up in a maelstrom of suspicion, jealousy, cut-throat competition, death threats, pet-napping, and murder. She becomes a "person of interest" to the police, and apparently to major hunk Tom Saunders as well. As if murder and the threat of impending romance aren’t enough to drive her bonkers, Janet has to move her mother into a nursing home, and the old lady isn’t going quietly. Janet finds solace in her Australian Shepherd, Jay, her tabby cat, Leo, and her eccentric neighbor, Goldie Sunshine. Then two other "persons of interest" die, Jay’s life is threatened, Leo disappears, and Janet’s search for the truth threatens to leave her own life underdeveloped – for good.



"The intricate plot has plenty of surprises, red herrings, and interesting details about animals. Fans of Laurien Berenson or Susan Conant will especially enjoy this pet-centered mystery." — Amy Alessio for Booklist.





Sheila's short mystery story, "Tracks" features animal photographer Janet MacPhail and her Australian Shepherd, Jay, who are main characters in the Animals in Focus mystery series. "Tracks" appeared first in the Racing Can Be Murder anthology put out by the Speed City (Indianapolis) Sisters in Crime, and was a finalist in the fiction category of the Dog Writers Association of America writing competition. In a review of the anthology that appeared in Publishers Weekly, "Tracks" was called a "standout."


Racing Can Be Murder, a collection of mystery stories all connected in some way to the Indianapolis 500, is available from your local bookseller, or on-line.


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