cover image Sting in the Tail

Sting in the Tail

Gerald Hammond. St. Martin's Press, $19.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-312-13189-0

Clarence, an exuberant and extroverted springer spaniel, has the bad habit of getting loose and wandering off in search of food and females. One day, this ``Houdini among dogs'' comes home squealing--and without a tail. What brute performed the agonizing amputation, and why? So begins this story, set in the game-rich hills of Scotland, near Dundee. Is some dog-hating nutter loose? That's the problem facing John Cunningham, partner in Three Oaks Kennels and friend of Charlie Hopewell, Clarence's fond master. There's no shortage of suspects: Charlie himself; his headstrong daughter Hannah; an anti-blood sport and pro-health food couple; Charlie's seductive neighbor, Carol Haven; and the mysterious, possibly gay recluse, Mr. Ricketts. When a murder complicates the picture, Cunningham tries to think himself into the mind of a spaniel, but it is his wife Beth's common sense that solves both the mystery of the missing tail and the murder mystery. Hammond (Hook or Crook) delivers bracing outdoorsy adventure, indoorsy good cheer. (Aug.)