Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Underdog (Melanie Travis Mysteries #2), by Laurien Berenson

Kensington, ISBN 9781575661087, November 1996

After the summer's entirely too exciting events connected to the theft of Melanie's Aunt Peg's prize standard poodle, Beau, Melanie herself is now the owner of a standard poodle puppy named Faith, whom Peg expects her to show to her championship. While she begins to enjoy dog ownership along with her five-year-old son, Melanie is also taking dog show handling classes with a well-known handler, Jenny Maguire. Melanie and Jenny are becoming friends, and when Jenny tells her that Ziggy, Jenny's much-loved mini poodle, escaped their yard and was killed by a car, Melanie is shocked.

Less than a week later, Jenny is dead, of arsenic poisoning.

Was it an accident? Suicide?

Or, as the police suspect, murder?

And a few days later, following up on a food recommendation Jenny made during their last visit together, Melanie discovers that Ziggy is not dead; he's living with the boarding kennel owner who makes the food Jenny recommended.

Naturally, Melanie's natural curiosity, not to say nosiness, and genuine concern has her asking questions and paying attention to odd details in the dog world. Was Jenny's husband Rick so controlling that Jenny was planning to disappear? Just how personally was Harry Flynn, handler of a champion springer spaniel, taking his rivalry with Jenny and the champion cocker spaniel she was handling? Will Jenny's younger sister Angie be able to handle the cocker successfully? How well did Angie and Jenny really get along? Angie and Rick?

Melanie learns a lot more about the dog show world, along with the reader. We get to see her in her own professional setting, as a special education teacher, and the budding romance with Sam is moving along, possibly in the direction of blossoming.

This is another light, entertaining mystery with engaging characters, both human and canine.


I bought this book.

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