Review of A Pedigree to Die for by Laurien Berenson
Overview from www.barnesandnoble.com: The apparent heart attack that killed kennel owner Max Turnbull has left his wife Peg suspecting foul play. But the only evidence is their missing prize pooh--a pedigreed poodle named Beau. Then, Melanie travis, a thirty-something teacher and single mother, is talked into investigating her uncle's death. Hounding Connecticut's elite canine competitions, she's soon hot on the trail of a poodle-hating neighbor and one elusive murderer who isn't ready to come to heel.
When her Uncle Max is found dead in his championship kennel, surrounded by his prize-winning poodles, it's up to Melanie to investigate. Posing as a poodle breeder in search of the perfect stud, Melanie hounds Connecticut's elite canine competitions, and finds an ally in fellow breeder, Sam Driver. But her affection cools when she gets wind of Sam's questionable past.
It is hard to believe that this is the first time that I have heard of this series and it has been out there since 1995 apparently. I knew about the cat murder mystery series. I see it all the time at the bookstore but never saw this one.
This was a freebie from Barnes & Noble and I have to say I think it did its job. I am hooked. I loved the protagonist, Melanie Travis, a single mother who appears to have nothing to look forward to during summer vacation since she will be without a paycheck. I do keep wondering what will bring her to her next dead body since her role as a teacher doesn’t usually provide them but I think that’s also half the fun of reading a series like this one.
Of course, the plot itself is also entertaining. To set the scene, Melanie is looking for something to do to keep her mind off of her not so great situation (her failed marriage, her crappy car, and her lack of a summer job) when an beloved uncle dies.
Everything seems cut and dried at first. The authorities conclude that it is a simple heart attack. But Aunt Peg, Uncle Max’s wife, thinks otherwise and she asks for help but not Melanie’s. Instead, she wants Melanie’s brother Frank to help her solve the mystery but Frank declines.
And then she reveals something else. One of their prized poodles, Beau, is also missing. Aunt Peg is desperate to get that poodle back, so desperate that she agrees to work with Melanie instead to find out where the poodle is and thus, who the killer is.
Looking for a distraction, Melanie takes up the challenge to pretend to be someone who is looking for the perfect stud dog to breed with her female, counting on Aunt Peg’s belief that whoever has the dog will want to breed him as soon as possible.
And thus begins her voyage into the land of dog shows and dog breeders. Yes, they love their dogs and would do anything to get their hands on their hands on the perfect specimen but would they kill for it? Apparently, yes.
When another breeder is killed things get really serious. The police, however, don’t think much of Aunt Peg’s missing dog or Uncle Frank’s death so they are on their own with almost no one to trust. No one except possible a breeder named Sam Driver but Melanie doesn’t trust him. What will she do about her growing attraction to him? And can she find the dog and the killer before someone else winds up dead?
Read the book and find out. I don’t think you will regret it.
Contains: the word “bitch” is used throughout the novel but this is about dog breeders so I don’t think that counts as foul language.