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[From the back cover] Murder's on the ticket when intrepid poodle breeder Melanie Travis travels to Maryland for a world-famous dog show where the competition isn't the only thing that's cutthroat. ... There are dog shows. And then there's The Poodle Club of America National Specialty Dog Show. For poodle purists, it's the pinnacle of the season, drawing competitors and spectators from all over the world. Once in Maryland, Melanie is put to work selling raffle tickets by the co-chairs of the raffle committee, Betty jean and Edith Jean Boone. Sixty-ish steel magnolias from the South, the reclusive sisters make few appearances. But this year, they have a silver Toy puppy that has already caused quite a buzz on the show circuit. While the poodles remain well behaved, it's their owners and handlers who start acting up. And when Betty Jean is found dead at the host hotel, murder takes center stage. But this is the PCA-and the show must go on. As Edith Jean staunchly resumes her duties, Melanie starts searching for clues, and comes up with a compelling cast of suspects whose actions prove that in the dog-eat-dog world of showing, a life can be as easily lost as a blue ribbon. And that unlike cats, dogs-and their owners-have only one to risk. ...
When Melanie receives a letter telling her that her Standard Poodle, Faith, is one of five finalists competing to be spokesdog for Chow Down dog food, she's mystified--until her nine-year-old son Davey admits to entering the contest. Melanie and Faith travel to New York for the reception only to find that for some dog lovers, winning is a deadly serious matter. When one of the contestants takes a fatal tumble down a flight of stairs, the police label it an accident, but something smells rotten to Melanie. And with the final decision drawing near, and competition getting downright vicious, Melanie and Faith will have to work fast to sniff out a murderer...and make it home in one piece...
Welcome to an elite Connecticut kennel club where shocking secrets gnaw at the best of the breed and competition has a sharp--and deadly--bite. As if raising her son Davey, training her rambunctious Poodle Faith for the show ring, and grooming fellow handler Sam Driver for romance aren't enough, Melanie Travis's entre into the exclusive Belle Haven Kennel Club has been met with a grisly murder. Unfortunately, the only witnesses to the crime were the victim's startled pair of Beagles. And they aren't talking. . . Melanie hadn't intended to do any serious snooping, what with coping with the unexpected arrival of an ex-husband out to get joint custody of the son he's never known. In need of some serious distraction, she's off to sniff out dangerous secrets. . . only to discover that everyone at Belle Haven has something damning to hide. As the shocking truth slowly comes to light--and her own domestic drama moves center stage--Melanie finds herself eager to put the bite on a dogged killer who's desperate enough to strike again. "A story as controlled as a well-behaved dog on a lead. " --Publishers Weekly
Pine Ridge Canine Care Center. A place where pampered pooches go to kick back, get primped, and watch a little TV in luxurious individual accommodations. To Melanie Travis, it all seems a bit much--and a most unlikely setting for a murder. But when the day care centers co-owner turns up dead in his office, thats just what she finds. . . Melanie Travis thought her sleuthing days were behind her. She has a new baby to take care of--not to mention five Standard Poodles--and Aunt Peg is getting Davey ready for his debut as a junior showman. These days, the closest Melanie gets to detective work is scoping out the scene at the local doggie day center for her friend Alice Brickman. As Melanie learns, its a dogs life at the Pine Ridge Canine Care Center--and life is good. The dogs are living large with a team of groomers and handlers at their bark and call. Everyone seems blissfully happy. Everyone canine, that is. For Melanie soon discovers there are some simmering resentments among the Pine Ridge staff and when Steve Pine, the centers charming, good-looking co-owner, is found shot to death on the floor of his office, theres no shortage of suspects. His sister Candy stands to inherit their lucrative doggie day care operation. His neighbor, Adam Busch, still blames Steve for paving the way for the other businesses that now exist in the once quiet, all-residential town. And then theres Lila Harrington, the disgruntled client who wanted to sue Steve following an embarrassing "incident" involving a Shih Tzu and a Beagle mix. And lastly, the string of female customers Steve bedded and jilted. But which of these suspects was desperate enough to commit murder? With the police at a loss for leads, its now up to Melanie to go undercover and sniff out a killer whose secrets lie buried in a dogs paradise thats proving to be anything but. . . Laurien Berenson is an Agatha and Macavity nominee, winner of the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award, and a four-time winner of the Maxwell Award, which is presented by the Dog Writers Association of America.
If you like dogs, you'll love Laurien Berenson's Melanie Travis mysteries! --Joanne Fluke, New York Timesbestselling authorAfter a short break from crime solving, stay-at-home mom Melanie Travis has not become boring--no matter what her alarmingly opinionated Aunt Peg says. She still has a nose for sniffing up a good mystery, especially when it involves the life of a legendary dog breeder. . . Despite Melanie's domestic demands--a toddler and a house full of Standard Poodles--helping Edward March pen his life story is an opportunity she can't pass up. Of course Edward turns out to be a growly old man who wants his book--"Puppy Love"--to consist mainly of his amorous encounters with women from the dog show community. It's juicy gossip, but not dangerous. . . until Andrew, Edward's son, pays Melanie an angry visit to stop her from working on the book. When Andrew suddenly turns up very dead, the victim of a seemingly intentional hit-and-run, the police are looking at Edward as Suspect #1. There was lots of bad blood between Andrew and his father, but Melanie is looking at the bigger picture. Would some of Edwards' ex-trysts have gone after Andrew to shut Edward up? How about all of those husbands and boyfriends with bones to pick? And who is that woman who everyone is avoiding at the funeral? Between getting caught up in the bafflingly dysfunctional March family, sorting out two generations of disgruntled ex'lovers, and uncovering a shocking case of secret hoarding, Melanie's running into dead ends almost as fast as she's running out of time. The longer the killer stays unleashed, the sooner she may end up in the dog house for good. Praise For Laurien Berenson And Her Melanie Travis Mysteries!"Laurien Berenson just keeps getting better and better. " --Harlan Coben"Berenson throws dog lovers a treat they will relish. " --Publishers Weekly"A wonderful reason to celebrate--Melanie Travis is back on the job in this always charming and clever series. " --Earlene Fowler, author of The Road to Cardinal Valleyand the Benni Harper mysteries "A special treat. " --Library Journal"Delightful. . . Four paws for this one. " --Carolyn Hart"Fun reading. " --Dog News
A well-paced and well-organized story, a surprise ending, and an ability to capture the great bond between dogs and people. -BooklistThe dog days of summer have just begun, and Melanie Travis is looking forward to savoring each lazy afternoon. And where better to enjoy herself than at her Aunt Peg's Fourth of July barbeque? It sounds ideal, until an uninvited guest proves that even the laziest dog day of the year can suddenly turn vicious. . . "Abundant with dog lore, this lighthearted adventure will charm dog fanciers and cozy fans. " --Publishers WeeklyMelanie knew someone should have kept Barry Turk on a short leash. The star Poodle handler and lady killer had a habit of chicanery that bred contempt in the dog show circuit. But when Barry is shot dead in his own driveway, even Melanie is stunned at how unsporting the competition can get. Now, as Melanie digs for clues deep under Connecticut's well-groomed surface, she finds herself sniffing around in the killer's own backyard, and counts herself lucky to have the animal instincts to keep herself alive. . . "Ms. Berenson's characters are likeable. Her plots twist and turn, and her stories are filled with surprises. " --The Lufkin Daily News(TX)
In an effort to escape tail-chasing males-namely her husband Bob and boyfriend Sam-Melanie Travis opts to track down the elusive owner of an adorable Dachshund puppy that's about to be put on the block at a charity auction. She, her son Davey, and her prizewinning poodles are more than willing to take little Dox in as a temporary boarder But the more Melanie discovers about the pup's background the messier the case gets. It seems the wiener dog is part of a divorced couple's emotional tug-o-war. Marian Firth, who bred Dox, is certainly concerned for his welfare. Unfortunately, her vindictive ex-husband George, won custody-and is going out of his way to use the animal as ammunition. George knows that donating the dog to the auction will hurt Marian-and only he can rescind the offer. As if tiptoeing through the minefield of a broken marriage isn't nerve-wracking enough, there's also Melanie's new stalker-or stalkers-to deal with. The obvious pair is pesky local television reporter Jill Prescott and her cameraman, Rich, who figure that Melanie's nose for trouble will lead them to the next Big Story. Everywhere she turns, they seem to turn up. It's annoying, but what's truly frightening is the presence of someone stealthier-and far more sinister. Someone who's gotten into her house at night; and turned on every single light in the place; someone who's stolen her wallet, and let her dogs loose in her neighborhood. Someone who's dognapped Dox. With the doggy abduction and her son's safety on mind, Melanie is determined to clear things up as soon as possible. But new suspects keep coming out of the woodwork, including Phil, the dogsitting client with a penchant for "watching," and Jean and Mike Azaria, a pair of Bichon breeders who are furious at Melanie because of a favor gone awry. As things grow more desperate-and dangerous-it's beginning look like Melanie's life may be the next thing up for auction...
Melanie Travis thought her visit to a rustic Pocono Mountains resort would offer some well-earned relaxation, even though it meant leaving her family and beloved poodle Faith behind. That was before she discovered the corpse in the inn's secluded hot tub. Now, she's sniffing out the trail of a killer as frightened guests and the police howl for swift justice... As the dog days of summer turn to the playful nip of autumn's chill, Melanie Travis is ready for a little relaxation. Her Aunt Peg has the perfect solution-a five-day symposium for dog show judges in Pennsylvania's idyllic Pocono Mountains.While Peg and Melanie's sister-in-law Bertie welcome the opportunity to socialize with the dog world's elite, the very pregnant Melanie embraces the chance to simply unwind. Aunt Peg also plans a little face time with her new online beau Richard Donner, but the rendezvous isn't smooth because Richard never travels without his mother, the redoubtable Florence Donner, who keeps a tiny Chihuahua in her purse and her son on a very short leash. When renowned judge Charles Evans delivers a keynote address that irritates many of the attendees, the symposium's agenda takes a deadly turn. For later that evening, the judge is found floating face-down in the outdoor hot tub. With few clues to go on, the police are baffled. Melanie decides to take matters into her own hands, suspecting that a cold-blooded murderer may lurk among her fellow dog lovers. Now the guests' tongues are wagging, and Melanie must find someone whose bite is actually far worse than their bark ...
Melanie Travis loves her teaching job at Connecticut's elite Howard Academy, where plans are underway for a Spring Pageant to honor the school's fiftieth anniversary. Immersed in the preparations, Melanie is hurrying to retrieve a painting of one of the illustrious co-founders when she comes upon a disturbing scene: Eugene Krebbs, the Academy's elderly caretaker is arguing loudly with a girl half his size. Before Melanie can learn more than the girl's first name--Jane--she disappears. It's clear that Jane isn't a student at Howard Academy, so what is she doing there? Melanie doesn't have a chance to answer that question before more problems arise. Two days later, Krebbs is discovered stabbed to death right on the school grounds. Now Melanie is embroiled in a full-fledged homicide investigation as she tries to find out who's added murder to the school's curriculum. And when Melanie's trail leads her dangerously closer to the truth, she must race against time to track down a cunning killer before she becomes the next victim to be hushed. . . forever.
Between teaching, mothering, and prepping her Poodle for the next show, Melanie Travis barely has time to pencil in some Christmas festivities. Especially once she finds herself making a list of suspects--and checking it twice--when murder comes home for the holidays... This year, all Melanie wants for Christmas is a dull moment-but she's not going to get it. Between her eight-year-old son Davey, her teaching job, and showing her soon-to-be champion Standard Poodle puppy Eve, there just aren't enough hours in the day. Davey's in the Christmas play and the holidays are in full swing, so she'd like to make merry...or at least get around to decorating the tree! It would also be nice to spend a little time with her fiance, Sam. But when Davey's usual bus driver, Henry Pruitt, disappears and is replaced by a surly, pierced, gum-chewing twentysomething, Melanie is concerned. The elderly, amiable Henry was a friend to all in the neighborhood, so she decides to check on him...only to find that he died two days ago, under suspicious circumstances. As if that weren't bad enough, Henry's two Golden Retrievers, Pepper and Remington, are now bereft of both master and home. Naturally, Melanie can't just abandon them. So she brings them to her Aunt Peg, the most stubborn woman on the planet, who's now determined to find out the truth about Henry's death, no matter what it takes. It turns out that Henry wasn't always a bus driver-- before he retired, he had another career as a high-powered executive at an exclusive brokerage firm. He was also quite the ladies' man. Could one of his loves have turned lethal? Soon, the indomitable Aunt Peg is investigating.
With her former fiancé off finding himself, Melanie Travis figures the only ring she'll be seeing in the near future is one where she's showing her prized poodles. But love is still in the air for her brother Frank, who is about to tie the knot with his sweetheart, Bertie Kennedy. With scant knowledge of tulle, favors, or cocktail hors d'oeuvres, Melanie happily leaves the nuptial arrangements to Sara Bentley, a fellow dog handler moonlighting as a wedding coordinator. But when Sara suddenly vanishes, a panicked Bertie gives Melanie a choice: either pinch-hit for Sara--or find out where she is. Opting for the latter, Melanie begins sniffing around into Sara's past--and unearths big trouble when Sara's cottage burns to the ground and a woman's body is found in the rubble. There are plenty of people with grudges against Sara--from Maris Kincaid, a disgruntled dog groomer; to Debra Silver, a competitor whose dog had been poisoned a decade ago; to Josh Bennett, her embittered ex-boyfriend. Even Sara's own family seems oddly unconcerned about her disappearance. . . but are the blue-blooded Bentleys cold-blooded enough to kill one of their own?Melanie soon realizes that despite the best-laid plans, anything can happen. And when it comes to Sara Bentley, nothing is certain--except that it's up to Melanie to stop a murderer in his--or her--tracks. . . An entertaining mystery. --Publishers WeeklyTotally satisfying. --I Love A Mystery
The 1st Melanie Travis mystery, the apparent heart attack of a kennel owner left his wife suspecting foul play, since their prize pooch was missing.
Melanie Travis has her hands full these days, what with adding a husband and three more dogs to her already cramped home. The advanced obedience training for her dog Faith is a welcome respite from the stresses of house hunting--until murder forces Melanie to the head of the class. . . Even amidst the chaos, Melanie somehow manages to eke out a bit of time to get Faith enrolled in "school. " The South Avenue Obedience Club looks like fun, even if there are enough sexual and political undercurrents in the group to power a small generator. Melanie is especially eager to bring Faith to the program at the Winston Pumpernill Nursing Home. Club member Paul Lennox initiated the outings to please his Great Aunt Mary, and since many of the other residents are also dog lovers, the trips are now a treasured tradition. Melanie and Faith are warmly welcomed at the home, but their very first visit ends in tragedy when Aunt Mary is found suffocated in her bed. There's no shortage of suspects--from the wealthy victim's ne'er-do-well son to the staff to the secret-laden club members themselves, there's motive and opportunity aplenty. All Melanie has to do is follow the trail--and watch her back. . .
Amateur sleuth, single mother, and pedigreed poodle owner, Melanie Travis returns to Connecticut's elite canine circles-and unmasks a murderer lurking among the handlers and the prize-winning pets... When Melanie's education in breed-handling at Connecticut's classiest obedience school is cut short by sudden death, she smells a murder. So, with her rambunctious puppy, five-year son, and sexy fellow breeder Sam Driver in tow, she hits the championship circuit. In this dog-eat-dog world where winning everything, Melanie discovers that more than one suspect has bone to pick with the victim, including a kennel owner who secret recipe for dog biscuits isn't the only thing she's guarding. Between laps around the show ring, Melanie learns some tricks of her own. But will she learn fast enough to collar an unleash killer who's begging for the dog detective to play dead? Praise for Laurien Berenson's A PEDIGREE TO DIE FOR "Delightful...Four paws for this one." -Carolyn Hart "A special treat."-Library journal "Fun reading."-Dog News "Berenson throws dog lovers a treat they will relish.'-Publishers Weekly
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 fianc, 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.
It's autumn in Connecticut. Melanie Travis has just started a new job and with the added excitement of showing her standard poodle, Faith, in the fall show, the last thing she wants is to become embroiled in yet another of her brother Frank's moneynaking schemes. His current Brainstorm remaking an old store in stylish Fairfield County into a trendy coffee bar already has the neighbors snarling. Worse, wealthy Marcus Rattigan, who's bankrolling the project, is found murdered on the premises, and the police think Frank did it.
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