Unleashed (Melanie Travis Series #7)

Unleashed (Melanie Travis Series #7)

4.8 5
by Laurien Berenson

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Summer means two things to Melanie Travis: a break from her teaching duties at Connecticut's elite Howard Academy and a chance to plan the perfect wedding to her fiancé, Sam. She certainly doesn't need the unwelcome arrival of a dinner invitation "peace offering" from Sam's ex-wife, Sheila Vaughn. And dinner proves to be only the beginning of her problems.

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Summer means two things to Melanie Travis: a break from her teaching duties at Connecticut's elite Howard Academy and a chance to plan the perfect wedding to her fiancé, Sam. She certainly doesn't need the unwelcome arrival of a dinner invitation "peace offering" from Sam's ex-wife, Sheila Vaughn. And dinner proves to be only the beginning of her problems. Sheila's new man turns out to be Brian Endicott, an old buddy-turned-enemy of Sam's. To make matters worse, Sheila announces her temporary stay in town is now permanent: she's accepted a job as co-publisher of Woof!, a new gossip rag for the dog show world. But before the first issue is even out, a hotter story breaks when Sheila is found dead, strangled with a leather dog leash.

As far as Melanie's concerned, the woman should have been on a leash long ago. And it seems she isn't alone in her dislike of Sheila. Some of Woof's salacious stories threatened to expose the dirty paws of quite a few important exhibitors, and someone on Sheila's staff may have found her high-handed attitude worth silencing. Then there's the question of the life insurance policy Brian took out only days before Sheila's death.

Even more troubling to Melanie is her faltering relationship with Sam, who's hiding secrets—secrets that put him more deeply under Sheila's spell in death than in life. Now, it will take the instincts of a bloodhound to sniff out a killer who's bent on putting an end to Melanie's amateur sleuthing. . .

With Unleashed, Laurien Berenson has delivered her most engaging, suspenseful novel yet, full of her signature, razor-sharp wit, and fast-paced plotting that's guaranteed to have mystery lovers sitting up and begging for more of Melanie Travis.

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Editorial Reviews

Toby Bromberg
Once again, Laurien Berenson gives us a fascinating tale of dogs and murder. Melanie, her young son Davey, her Aunt Peg, and Sam are all wonderful characters. This is a strong entry in a popular series and the surprising ending will leave fans on tenterhooks.
Romantic Times
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this workman-like and winning cozy, the seventh in the series featuring teacher and dog-lover Melanie Travis (Underdog; Hush Puppy; etc.), Berenson takes readers deep into the dog-show subculture. A busy schedule is all that is keeping Melanie and her fianc , software designer Sam Driver, from setting a wedding date. Happily shepherding her six-year-old to soccer camp and preparing for her poodle's first litter, Melanie is alarmed when Sam's ex-wife, Sheila Vaughn, moves to the area. Vaughn has teamed up with an old college buddy of Sam's to launch a new magazine, Woof!, which promises to inject a little National Enquirer-style gossip into the standard, dull dog-show reporting. The inaugural issue does indeed sully the reputation of one prominent handler--and more nasty stories are in the pipeline--but Sheila misses all the excitement because someone strangles her the night before the magazine is due to make its debut at a dog show. The murder not only stirs up the dog pack, it also throws an emotional monkey wrench into Melanie's love life, for she must face the fact that Sam still harbors deep feelings for Sheila. In the course of her sniffing about, Melanie meets a range of personalities on the dog-show circuit, from the breeders to the photographers, but it's the milieu that stands out rather than the scantily drawn characters. There are some tender moments here, however, and the ending is a surprise on more than one front. (Sept.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Library Journal
Series sleuth Melanie Travis (Hush Puppy), a special ed teacher who masquerades as a poodle breeder, hunts for the murderer of her boyfriend's ex-wife. A dependably well-written work especially appropriate for dog-mystery fans. Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\
Kirkus Reviews
Life's a bitch for Melanie Travis (Hush Puppy, 1999, etc.), schoolteacher and novice trainer of canine champions. Even her Standard Poodle's love life is better than hers. While Faith is happily awaiting her first litter, Melanie's main squeeze, hunky Sam Driver, is mooning over his ex-wife Sheila, who came east with her prize-winning Pugs for six months and stayed on to try to rock Sam's world-not to mention the high-class world of show dogs and their equally inbred owners. As co-publishers of Woof!, Sheila and her pre-Sam boyfriend Brian Endicott want to make a splash exposing shady breeders and sketchy owners. But just as their first issue's coming out, someone halts their press run by wrapping a leash around Sheila's pretty neck and leaving her dead on the floor of her rented North Salem cottage. Knowing that Sam won't be hers again until Sheila's murderer is caught, Melanie begins to sniff out the killer. At Woof!'s editorial office, managing editor Aubrey Jones gives her the cold shoulder, but her assistant, Tim Golonka, tells Melanie whose fur Sheila was about to ruffle: hot-tempered trainer Kenny Boyle and blue-blooded breeder Alida Trent. And sleazy staff photographer Marlon Dickie suggests that as surviving partner, Brian has as good a motive as any outsider. Melanie even gets a tip from Sheila's neighbor Nancy Benning, whose twins overheard a "mean man" yelling at Sheila. The most dramatic remaining question: Will Faith whelp her litter before Melanie brings her seventh case to an equally predictable outcome?

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Product Details

Publication date:
A Melanie Travis Mystery Series, #7
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
4.25(w) x 7.00(h) x 0.66(d)

Meet the Author

Laurien Berenson is author of the delightful Melanie Travis canine cozy mystery series, including Jingle Bell Bark and Best in Show. She has a degree in psychology from Vassar College and has been married for almost twenty-five years. She lives in Georgia with her husband, her son, six dogs, and two Welsh ponies.

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Unleashed 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I totally recommend this book to anyone who loves dogs and mysteries. It's a very good book. Very well written.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is another well written mystery by Lauren Berenson. I liked "Best in Show" so much that I started at the beginning of the series. Each book is a wonderful mystery for dog lovers. Once you start reading one of the books, you look so forward to reading time each day. There is much to learn from the author about what is involved in showing and breeding dogs. It is easy to get involved with Melanie Travis's life and the people who surround her. The characters come alive and become endearing as you read through the series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
harstan More than 1 year ago

Melanie teaches at the elite Howard Academy in Connecticut, but her soul lies with showing and breeding her standard French Poodle Faith. Her fiancé Sam, also a breeder and shower, loves Melanie¿s son Davey as if he is his own child. The only problem interfering with an idyllic existence is Sam¿s ex-wife Sheila Vaughn who just moved into the area and is someone that Melanie did not previously knew existed. To prove to herself that she is not jealous, Melanie accepts an invitation accompanied by Sam, for dinner at Sheila¿s house. However, Melanie is unprepared for Sam¿s jealous reaction to Melanie¿s houseguest Brian Endicott, her former lover and his former best friend.

Before Melanie can voice her concerns about Sam¿s former wife, Shelia is killed. Sam seems to withdraw from everyone, but asks Melanie to investigate since she has had success in solving homicides in the past. Melanie worries about Sam¿s appeal for her assistance because he always hated her involvement due to the danger to her. Deciding to make inquiries as a means to reach Sam, Melanie begins sleuthing, only to find someone will kill to keep the truth hidden.

Melanie shows she is a complete human being as she feels some guilt over Shelia¿s death yet also some relief that her rival (real or imagined) is no longer a contender. She relives her shame and tries to assuage some of Sam¿s anguish; Melanie investigates the murder very thoroughly. Though readers know the perpetrator early on in UNLEASHED, Laurien Berenson¿s amateur sleuth tale works because of Melanie¿ so human actions and reactions.

Harriet Klausner