cover image Underdog


Laurien Berenson. Kensington Publishing Corporation, $18.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-1-57566-011-0

Introduced in A Pedigree to Die For, Fairfield County, Connecticut's Melanie Travis returns in another mystery revolving around dogs. Trying to get her puppy ready for the show circuit, Melanie, a single mom who teaches learning-disabled students, befriends professional handlers Jenny and Rick Maguire, whose dogs consistently win trophies. When Jenny says her pet, Ziggy, was run over in a street accident, Melanie tries to console the woman over dinner. Then Jenny dies of arsenic poisoning and, later, Melanie finds Ziggy being boarded at a distant kennel. Clearly, something was rotten about the seeming idyllic life of the Maguires. Was Jenny planning to leave her husband? Or did she commit suicide as her sister, who found a note, insists? Ever curious, Melanie goes after the answer like a hound on a scent--and yaps charmingly about her son, her poodle and her potential beau, Sam. Aided by her equally snoopy Aunt Peg, Melanie is indoctrinated in the mores of dog shows and, along the way, discovers who killed Jenny. With this new case, Berenson throws dog lovers a treat they will relish. (Feb.)