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Under the Dog Star (Rachel Goddard Series #4)

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  • Posted February 9, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Under the Dog Star

    This is the fourth entry in Sandra Parshall’s Agatha Award-winning series, which brings back Rachel Goddard, veterinarian in Mason County, in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, where there has been a rash of mysterious disappearances of family pets from all over the area, posters of which cover the walls of Rachel’s animal hospital. At the same time, reports have been coming in of a pack of feral dogs attacking ranches and homes at night, stealing eggs and killing chickens, threatening the safety of the homeowners and the local farmers’ livestock, and causing somewhat of a panic among the citizenry. Some of them are up in arms, literally, and want nothing more than to form hunting parties, rifles at the ready, to find and kill the animals. Rachel has other plans: She is setting up a sanctuary, where she can house the animals and try to get them to bond again with humans, rather than the other members of the pack.

    The stakes suddenly escalate in fast and furious manner when a local man is viciously killed, and when it appears that an animal is to blame, those already planning to hunt them down become crazed. But Chief Deputy Sheriff Tom Bridger, with whom Rachel has been living for the past month, sees the evidence as pointing to a human killer who uses a trained and vicious dog as his weapon. The powerful novel details some very real horrors and ugliness in our society [a hint of which was provided in real life by football player Michael Vick].

    The ensuing investigation and chase becomes more and more complex: The victim was not without enemies, outside of and perhaps within his own household, which includes several adopted children and not a small amount of animosity. The author has created some beautifully drawn characters, who come vibrantly alive in the hands of a terrific storyteller. The suspense mounts to very high levels as the tale draws to an end, much too soon. I loved it, and it is highly recommended.

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