I am a big fan of the Melanie Travis Mysteries and this one did not disappoint. Still waiting for one featuring two lovable Boston Terriers! If Laurien Berenson needs character names, Phoebe and Sophie would be honored to lend their names.
Summer means two things to Melanie Travis: a break from her teaching duties at Connecticut's elite Howard Academy and a chance to plan the perfect wedding to her fiancé, Sam. She certainly doesn't need the unwelcome arrival of a dinner invitation "peace offering" from Sam's ex-wife, Sheila Vaughn. And dinner proves to be only the beginning of her problems. Sheila's new man turns out to be Brian Endicott, an old buddy-turned-enemy of Sam's. To make matters worse, Sheila announces her temporary stay in town is now permanent: she's accepted a job as co-publisher of Woof!, a new gossip rag for the dog show world. But before the first issue is even out, a hotter story breaks when Sheila is found dead, strangled with a leather dog leash.
As far as Melanie's concerned, the woman should have been on a leash long ago. And it seems she isn't alone in her dislike of Sheila. Some of Woof!'s salacious stories threatened to expose the dirty paws of quite a few important exhibitors, and someone on Sheila's staff may have found her high-handed attitude worth silencing. Then there's the question of the life insurance policy Brian took out only days before Sheila's death.
Even more troubling to Melanie is her faltering relationship with Sam, who's hiding secrets-secrets that put him more deeply under Sheila's spell in death than in life. Now, it will take the instincts of a bloodhound to sniff out a killer who's bent on putting an end to Melanie's amateur sleuthing...
With Unleashed, Laurien Berenson has delivered her most engaging, suspenseful novel yet, full of her signature, razor-sharp wit, and fast-paced plotting that's guaranteed to have mystery lovers sitting up and begging for more of Melanie Travis.
From Publishers Weekly: "In this workman-like and winning cozy, the seventh in the series featuring teacher and dog-lover Melanie Travis (Underdog; Hush Puppy; etc.), Berenson takes readers deep into the dog-show subculture. A busy schedule is all that is keeping Melanie and her fianc?, software designer Sam Driver, from setting a wedding date. Happily shepherding her six-year-old to soccer camp and preparing for her poodle's first litter, Melanie is alarmed when Sam's ex-wife, Sheila Vaughn, moves to the area. Vaughn has teamed up with an old college buddy of Sam's to launch a new magazine, Woof!, which promises to inject a little National Enquirer-style gossip into the standard, dull dog-show reporting. The inaugural issue does indeed sully the reputation of one prominent handlerAand more nasty stories are in the pipelineAbut Sheila misses all the excitement because someone strangles her the night before the magazine is due to make its debut at a dog show. The murder not only stirs up the dog pack, it also throws an emotional monkey wrench into Melanie's love life, for she must face the fact that Sam still harbors deep feelings for Sheila. In the course of her sniffing about, Melanie meets a range of personalities on the dog-show circuit, from the breeders to the photographers, but it's the milieu that stands out rather than the scantily drawn characters. There are some tender moments here, however, and the ending is a surprise on more than one front." Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.