by Sandra Murphy
Details on how to win a copy of Death of a Dog Whisperer at the end of this review, along with a link to purchase the book where a portion goes to help KRL.
Davey is twelve years old now and a good big brother to two year old Kevin. In a household of the two boys, husband Sam, six black standard Poodles and an often drop by ex-husband, it’s a wonder Melanie ever gets anything done. Over the years, she’s learned to go with the flow.
Bob, the ex, wants a favor. Usually, this is something Melanie would never do but in this case it’s just meet a guy who understands dogs better than most. If Melanie likes him, she can introduce him to her Aunt Peg, a formidable woman, dog show judge and canine expert.
Nick Walden is nothing like Melanie expects. He’s very good looking, not pushy at all, comfortable with his life and he understands dogs because they speak the same language. Melanie’s dogs like him so you know he’s trustworthy. Although Tar, the big male, might welcome a burglar, Faith, Melanie’s champion Poodle is more discriminating.
This year, Davey is going to handle Augie in local shows. The challenge will not be for Davey to do well but to keep Peg from running over him with instructions and helpful hints.
At the show, Peg gets a chance to meet Nick and surprisingly, they hit it off—something that doesn’t happen often where Peg’s concerned. However, a few days later, Nick is found shot to death in his own house and Melanie feels the tragedy as much as anybody. Nick was truly one of those people everybody, and every dog, liked.
It comes as a shock to Melanie to find out Bob knows Claire, Nick’s sister, and he knows her rather well as does Davey. Sam was in on the secret too which leaves Melanie less than happy with him. It seems Bob thought his ex-wife would be upset by his dating so it was just easier to not tell her. The conspiracy of silence only makes her madder when she finds out. She did object to a couple of Bob’s other girlfriends–the one who was only twenty years old and the one who shot Melanie, understandable enough in Melanie’s mind.
Claire, on the other hand, has heard a lot about Melanie, including the part about her solving crimes in the past. Claire starts out a little abrupt but can be forgiven since she’s mourning the death of her brother. Too bad she gets off on the wrong foot by telling the police that the main thing that’s changed in Nick’s life lately was his friendship with Peg.
Peg is not above letting herself be a suspect if she can wheedle information out of the police detective. Seeing Peg flirting is almost too much for Melanie though.
One by one, Melanie visits Nick’s clients. They are usually women, some married, some single. Most all have dogs that walk all over them since they’ve had no training and live with clueless owners. As Nick says, he trains the people more than he trains the dogs.
One is a Yorkie who bites, one a Basset who sleeps a lot but wanders from the yard when awake and unsupervised. Some of the women are lonely and they look forward to Nick’s visits as much as the dogs do.
With clients and love interests as possible suspects, Melanie hopes the murderer is someone who got overly attached to Nick. It’s better than an unknown motive and it could get Peg off the detective’s radar. One by one, she manages to clear the suspects and things are looking dim for finding the killer.
As a side plot, Bob thinks his house (the one he formerly shared with Melanie) is haunted. He found a diamond ring when renovating the bathroom and they trace the home’s previous owners to find out more about it. Bob says he hears thumps and bumps so maybe he let a ghost loose or woke one up when he tore down a wall. Melanie thinks he has more problems with the living—his neighbor and a friend seem to wander in and out of Bob’s house at will.
Usually in a cozy mystery, the victim is the most hated character. In this case, Nick was so likeable that the reader is as upset as the characters at his death. It made for a good mystery but I wish we’d been able to know him longer.
Berenson weaves information about dog shows, conformation, grooming, and Poodles in general, seamlessly into the storyline. In this case, along with Davey, the reader can learn how to position a Poodle on the grooming table and why it’s done that way. The information remains interesting, not overwhelming.
Melanie and Sam are, despite his complicity in the Claire cover up, still a great couple. Bob is much better than I remember and I give credit to both Melanie and Claire for his improvement. Bob and Melanie work to keep Davey’s best interests in mind so there’s no fighting between the ex’s. Peg—well, as Bob says, she can be scary so it’s best to keep a low profile around her.
The toddler Kevin is a great addition. Only a couple of years old, he already can identify the Poodles by name which isn’t easy since they’re all large, black and only Augie is in show coat. The end of the book hints at more surprises to come. Readers can only hope they come soon to keep up with Melanie’s fast-paced life.
To enter to win a copy of Death of a Dog Whisperer simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Dog,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen October 11, 2014. U.S. residents only.
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