School's out for the summer, and single mother and teacher Melanie Travis is not enjoying the easy summer days.
Her boyfriend has dumped her for a chorus girl, her summer job as a camp counselor has fallen through, and her Uncle Max has died suddenly of a heart attack. All that would be bad enough.
But then her Aunt Peg, Max's wife, calls with the news that one of her and Max's prize poodles, Beau, has been stolen. She wants Melanie to help her convince her brother Frank to help track him down. This can only go one way, and it does: Frank is completely dismissive of the importance Peg places on this dog, believes she's making it up about the dog's dollar value, and refuses to become involved.
So Peg settles for Melanie instead, and Melanie can't say no. Suddenly she's embarked on a crash course in dogs, genetics, and the politics of dog shows. It's even kind of fun, until she discovers a dead body.
Melanie is thoroughly likable, and maddening as she can be, Peg grows on you, too. Melanie's four-year-old son, Davey, is a normal troublesome four-year-old, not an overdone joke or improbable angel.
And the portrayal of the dog show world is delightfully realistic--the obsessions, the love of dogs, the politics, the friendships, the common values grounded in what's good for the dogs even when people have not much else in common. It's all too common to simply ridicule the dog fancy and the people involved in it, but this is a realistic and loving look at the dog world.
Oh, and it's a good mystery, too. :)
I bought this book.