cover image Hush Puppy: A Melanie Travis Mystery

Hush Puppy: A Melanie Travis Mystery

Laurien Berenson. Kensington Publishing Corporation, $20 (304pp) ISBN 978-1-57566-469-9

Amateur sleuth and single mother Melanie Travis (Watchdog, etc.) and her show poodle, Faith, return in a mundane canine cozy centered around the prestigious Howard Academy in Greenwich, Conn., where Melanie is a full-time tutor. School caretaker Eugene Krebbs, an unsavory school fixture, is found dead in his tool shed, stabbed with a pitchfork. Now, along with juggling Faith's dog shows and dealing with the unexpected arrival in town of her fianc 's ex-wife, Melanie finds herself drawn into the investigation. As part of the school's pageant committee, she is charged with searching through the Howard family papers in the school basement, where she discovers a painting and a 60-year-old diary that may hold the clues to Krebbs's death. Berenson's tale, particularly the Howard family history, starts out with potential but degenerates into a muddle of predictable characters, such as hunky boyfriend Sam, adorable son Davey and a precocious waif called Jane who knows too much for her own good. A fiery close call for Melanie leads to a disappointingly tidy wrap-up in Aunt Peg's kitchen, as the police, having been beaten to the punch by Melanie, eat cookies. (Oct.)