cover image Roll Over and Play Dead

Roll Over and Play Dead

Joan Hess. St. Martin's Press, $17.95 (244pp) ISBN 978-0-312-05956-9

Agreeing to care for two basset hounds while their elderly owner is away, bookseller Claire Malloy is introduced to the underworld of pet snatchers.redundant, if they're stolen When the hounds left in her care disappear, Claire discovers other neighborhood pets in her small university town are also missing. A check at the animal shelter turns up the information that the unsavory Newton Churls runs an operation licensed to sell animals for medical research. An official inspection, authorized by an unwilling sheriff, proves unavailing. The bereft pet owners and Claire's teenage daughter Caron attempt a nighttime commando raid; when Claire follows them, she finds Churls torn to death by his pit bulls. On the lam to keep up the search and avoid being called as a material witness, Claire is attacked by several unsavory country boys at an animal sale; a ransom demand further complicates the case. Hess again provides lively and diverting entertainment via her brash and articulate detective, last seen in A Diet to Die For . (July)