cover image Doghouse


Gerald Hammond. St. Martin's Press, $16.95 (189pp) ISBN 978-0-312-07733-4

The prolific Hammond integrates aspects of his two mystery series in this third tale to feature dog trainer and retired British army office John Cunningham. As in earlier entries, spaniel lore takes up much of the narrative, but here the solution to the murder requires detailed knowledge of ammunition as well. A darker figure than Hammond's other creation, gunsmith/sleuth Keith Calder, Cunningham has evolved from a physically and emotionally limited character (due to a rare disease) to a largely successful businessman and lover, with the retiring Beth as his partner in both endeavors. From a late uncle, a famous painter and the victim of a bizarre gun-loading accident, Beth inherits a black Labrador and an oil painting, both of which prove valuable. Cunningham, who buys an old gun from the widow, doesn't believe the painter's death was an accident, especially given his eye for the ladies and his unwholesome bunch of relatives, excluding the tight-lipped widow and the plucky Beth. Set in the Fife region of Scotland, where people keep their own counsel and passions tend to be kept on a long fuse, this is a superior series. (Aug.)