As owner of prize-winning Poodles, Melanie Travis knows how to handle fierce competition. But when a conformation show turns deadly, it’ll take every trick in the book to outsmart a murderer who refuses to lose . . .
With the excitement of the spring dog show season sweeping Connecticut, Melanie is determined to help her son finally lead his Standard Poodle toward a championship title. Aunt Peg even skips the judging panel to exhibit a pup of her own, and she’s set on standing out from the pack with a handmade leash from Jasmine Crane, a talented canine portrait artist who also crafts stunning accessories for discriminating show-goers. Jasmine’s handiwork is to die for—but Aunt Peg didn’t expect to discover the woman murdered behind the concession booth, strangled by one of her dazzling custom creations . . .
Another shockwave ripples through the close-knit show community when Amanda, Aunt Peg’s longtime dog sitter and a renter on Jasmine’s property, ominously vanishes that same day. While nosing around for clues, Melanie suspects a dangerous connection between Amanda’s disappearance and the homicide case—a hunch that grows as her investigation reveals sketchy secrets about the late artist. Juggling a demanding teaching job, the pressures of the show ring, and a daunting suspect list, Melanie finds herself entangled in a mindboggling murder mystery . . . and hot on the trail of a desperate killer . . .
About the Author
LAURIEN BERENSON is an Agatha and Macavity nominee, winner of the Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Award, and four-time winner of the Maxwell Award, presented by the Dog Writers Association of America. She and her husband live on a farm in Kentucky surrounded by dogs and horses. Readers can visit her website at: www.LaurienBerenson.com.
Read an Excerpt
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a Standard Poodle in possession of eleven points toward a championship must be in want of a dog show.
Okay, Jane Austen didn't use those exact words. But if she had been a member of my family she might well have because dog shows are a way of life for us. I met my husband, Sam, at a dog show, and our blended canine crew currently includes five black Standard Poodles and a small, spotted mutt named Bud.
All our Poodles are retired show champions, except for one: Kirkwood's Keep Away, more casually known as Augie. He belongs to my thirteen-year-old son, Davey. A novice dog handler with plenty of other interests to keep him busy, Davey had been working on finishing Augie's championship for nearly two years.
Now we were all in agreement that it was time to finally buckle down and get the job done. Which had brought us to yet another dog show. Like all exhibitors, we were eternal optimists.
Connecticut weather in early April was notoriously fickle. Though the show scene had moved back outdoors for the spring season, the day was chilly enough for everyone to be bundled into warm jackets. Still, after a winter spent at often cramped indoor venues, we were all delighted to be outside in a spacious park. The air might have been unseasonably brisk but at least it wasn't raining. Or snowing.
Twelve large rings had been set up in the center of the big field. They were positioned in two rows of six, with a wide alleyway between them, covered by a green-and-white striped tent. At each end of the competition area was another, smaller tent where exhibitors set up their grooming equipment and completed their preshow ring preparations.
By the time we arrived midmorning, most of the available space under the grooming tent nearest the Poodle ring had already been claimed by the professional handlers who'd been at the show site since dawn. Sam pulled the SUV into the unloading area beside the tent. I got out and had a look around, hoping to find a small spot to wedge our gear in.
The scene beneath the tent was hectic. I saw dozens of wooden crates stacked on top of each other, and rows of rubber-matted grooming tables squashed into narrow aisles. I heard the loud, persistent whine of free-standing blow dryers. Some exhibitors were working on their dogs while others were dashing back and forth to the rings.
To the uninitiated, it might have looked like pandemonium. To me, it looked like home.
Suddenly a familiar head popped up. A hand lifted and waved in the air. "Melanie!" Aunt Peg called. "Over here."
Even in the midst of all that chaos, Margaret Turnbull was hard to overlook. She stood six feet tall and had a direct gaze that missed nothing. Her posture was impeccable, and her demeanor was that of a woman who knew exactly what she wanted and almost always got it.
Over the decades, Aunt Peg's successes in the dog show world had earned her a reputation for excellence and the lasting respect of her peers. Her Cedar Crest Kennel had not only produced a number of the country's best Standard Poodles, it had also provided foundation stock for those discerning breeders who'd followed in her footsteps.
Now nearing seventy, Aunt Peg had scaled back her involvement in breeding and exhibiting to concentrate on her busy career as a multi-group judge. She'd had a litter of Standard Poodle puppies the previous fall — her first in several years. I knew she'd retained the best bitch puppy for herself, but now I was surprised to see Aunt Peg standing in the middle of her own setup. The Poodle, Cedar Crest Coral, was sitting on a grooming table beside her.
It looked as though Aunt Peg would be showing today too. Somehow she'd neglected to mention that.
Aunt Peg had a word with the puppy, then left her sitting on her monogrammed towel. She slipped through the setups between us and came to help unload the SUV.
The four of us worked together with a practiced ease born of repetition. By the time Aunt Peg and I reached the vehicle, Sam already had the hatch open. He'd pulled out the dolly and he and Davey were loading Augie's crate onto it.
In my sometimes crazy world, Sam was my rock. We'd known each other for nearly a decade and been married for half that time. I loved that he was smart and perceptive. I also loved that Sam had sun-bleached blond hair, a killer smile, and a body buff enough to draw second looks from girls half our age.
As I reached around him to grab the wooden tack box, I trailed my fingers across Sam's back. He shifted slightly in my direction and winked.
Davey was threading a noose carefully through Augie's thick neck hair before hopping the big Poodle out of the car. He caught the interaction between his stepfather and me and shook his head. Thirteen was a tough age for kids and parents both.
"What about me?" asked a plaintive voice. "What should I carry?"
Our younger son, Kevin, had turned four in March. He was enrolled in preschool now. As a consequence, he was feeling very grown up. I looked around for something to hand him and settled upon a small, soft-sided cooler.
"You can take this," I said.
Kev thrust out his lower lip. "I want something big."
Aunt Peg leaned down and examined my choice. "Don't lose that, it's very important. The cooler has Augie's bait in it. Without it, Davey will be in trouble when he goes in the ring."
The thought of his brother in trouble immediately brightened my younger son's face. Kevin had his father's sandy hair and slate-blue eyes. When he smiled it was like looking at a version of Sam in miniature.
"I have Augie's bait," he echoed happily. "Cool."
We moved Aunt Peg's equipment to one side and squeezed our own stuff in next to it. Sam wedged the crate up against a tent pole. Then he and Kev went to move the SUV to the parking lot. I put the tack box within easy reach on top of the crate and stashed the cooler and Kevin's toy bag behind it.
Davey set up the grooming table. When it was ready, he lifted Augie up into place. I saw him cast a glance in Coral's direction and frown. Aunt Peg's pretty puppy had already been brushed out. With her dense black coat and soft, dark eyes, she looked like a perfect, plush doll. When Davey looked her way Coral stood up and wagged her tail.
"What's the matter?" I asked him.
"Aunt Peg is showing."
I understood his consternation. It had been a long time since I'd seen Aunt Peg in a ring with a Poodle on the end of her leash. "Now we'll have two chances to win," I said brightly.
"Now I'll have to beat her too," Davey grumbled.
"You have a dog and I have a bitch," Aunt Peg reminded him. "We won't meet in the classes. And besides, Coral is only six months old. We're just here today for the experience."
I leaned down and whispered to Davey, "You should be happy Aunt Peg has her own entry to concentrate on. That'll give her less time to worry about what you and Augie are doing."
"I heard that," Aunt Peg snapped. The woman has ears like a fox.
Ignoring her, I opened the tack box and took out the tools Davey would need to start preparing Augie for the ring. A fully mature Standard Poodle dog, Augie was wearing the continental clip, one of three trims approved for AKC breed competition. His face and throat were clipped to the skin, and he had a dense coat of long, shaped hair covering the front half of his body. His hindquarter and legs were mostly shaved as well, leaving only rounded rosettes on each of his hips, bracelets on his lower legs, and a large pompon on the end of his tail.
Beginning the grooming session required a pin brush, a slicker brush, a greyhound comb, and a water bottle for misting the coat. I lined up the equipment along the edge of the tabletop.
Davey looped his arms around Augie's legs and gently lowered the Poodle into a prone position. Augie knew what to expect. He relaxed and lay quietly on his left side. Hands moving quickly through the hair, Davey started line brushing the Poodle's mane coat.
"I see the gang's all here," said Terry Denunzio. Sweeping past me with a Japanese Chin tucked beneath each arm, he aimed an air kiss in my direction. "Finally," he added with a smirk.
That last part was a dig at Aunt Peg, who always beat us to shows, then complained vociferously that we were late, even when we had hours to spare. Assistant to top professional handler Crawford Langley, Terry was one of my best buddies. In his thirties, he was a few years younger than me and impossibly cute. He was also flamboyantly gay. Terry's antics were the perfect foil for Crawford's calm, dignified manner. The two of them made a great couple.
Terry often entertained himself by taking potshots at people. And since it wasn't unusual for me to be the target of his biting wit, now I couldn't resist having some fun at his expense. Terry's hair color seemed to change with his moods. Or maybe the time of day. But this tint was something I hadn't seen before.
"Red?" I said incredulously. "You've got to be kidding."
"What?" He stashed the two toy dogs in a pair of crates and straightened and twirled for effect. "You don't love it?"
"I don't even like it." I wrinkled my nose. "You look like Howdy Doody."
"That's what I told him." Crawford entered the neighboring setup from the other side. He was carrying another Chin and a fistful of ribbons.
"And I said" — Terry paused and looked around to make sure we were all listening — "who the heck is Howdy Doody?"
Back at her own grooming table, Aunt Peg barked out a laugh. "Good for you, Terry. It's wise to be impervious to insult."
"Who are we insulting now?" Bertie Kennedy came flying into the tent towing a Bearded Collie. Another professional handler, Bertie was married to my younger brother, Frank. The couple had two children: six-year-old Maggie and a son named Josh, who'd been born the previous September.
Crawford had been showing dogs successfully for decades. Bertie's experience comprised only a fraction of that time. But she was talented and worked hard. The fact that she was tall and gorgeous didn't hurt either. As she hopped the Beardie onto a nearby table, I leaned over to give her a hug. Apparently the setup on our other side belonged to her.
"Terry," I told her. "We're laughing at his hair."
"Hey." She pulled back and gave me a stern look. "I could be offended by that." Bertie's hair was a deep, rich shade of auburn. Terry's was flaming red.
"You tell 'em, doll." Terry plucked a Mini Poodle out of a crate and went to work. "We redheads have to stick together."
"At least until Tuesday or so," I said. "By then he'll probably be blond again."
"Somebody woke up on the wrong side of bed this morning." Terry fluttered his fingers in Aunt Peg's direction. "Competition a little tough for you today?"
"I might ask the same of you," I shot back. Davey was showing one Standard Poodle. Crawford and Terry had three. And as Aunt Peg had pointed out earlier, since the initial classes were divided by sex, it was unlikely that Augie and Coral would meet in the show ring.
"You two quit fussing." Aunt Peg was busy putting up her puppy's topknot. "Coral is a baby. She's just here to learn what dog shows are all about."
"A puppy of yours needing experience?" Sam said. He and Kev had returned from parking the SUV. "That sounds unlikely."
Sam released Kevin's hand and I handed my son the bag of toys. He sat down in the grass, took out a pair of Matchbox cars, and began to zoom them around the table legs.
"I can't believe how much I've missed this," Aunt Peg said with a smile. "It's been entirely too long since I had a Poodle to show. Judging is a wonderful way to give back to the sport, but this ..." She waved a hand to encompass all the activity under the tent and the other exhibitors around us. "This is what it's really about. The dogs, the grooming, the competition, the camaraderie —"
"The smell of hairspray in the morning?" I teased.
"Laugh if you will, but I'm perfectly serious. Judging is a fruitful occupation and agility is loads of fun. But nothing can compare with the satisfaction you feel, walking into the breed ring with a beautiful, home-bred dog on the end of your leash."
"Here, here," said Crawford.
The rest of us nodded in agreement. Dog shows had an addictive quality and we were all well aware of it. The competition was always interesting, and occasionally even rewarding. But that was only part of the equation. Exhibiting gave breeders the opportunity to form relationships, to compare notes, and to analyze the results of their efforts. We came to the shows for the dogs, but the people were every bit as important.
"Speaking of judging," said Sam. "When are you going to apply for a license, Crawford?"
The handler gave him a sideways look. "Is that your way of saying you think I'm of an age where I ought to be slowing down?"
Sam reddened. I'd rarely seen him at a loss for words, but now he looked as if he wished he'd never asked the question.
I quickly intervened. "What Sam meant, Crawford, is that the judging pool would be enriched by your experience and expertise."
"That's what I thought." The handler cracked a grin. "But the judging pool will have to wait. I'm too busy doing what I do best." He swept a Toy Poodle off a tabletop and exited the tent. Terry picked up two more ring-ready Toys and followed.
"That's my cue," said Bertie. She left with a Duck Toller.
"And mine as well," Aunt Peg announced. "Keep an eye on Coral for me, will you? I'll be back in just a few minutes."
"Where are you going?" I asked.
"I decided that a return to the ring deserved a nice new piece of equipment. I ordered a beaded show leash for Coral from Jasmine Crane. She told me it would be ready for pick up today."
Sam and I exchanged a look. We were both remembering that most of Aunt Peg's old equipment had burned up in a kennel fire the previous summer.
"That sounds perfect," I said. "Jasmine's leashes are beautiful."
Every dog show drew a variety of canine-centric concession booths, offering all manner of dog-related products. I'd seen everything from sheepskin beds and squeaky toys, to canine books and figurines. In vendor's row, there was something for every dog lover to drool over.
Jasmine Crane's specialty was canine art. Working in oils and pastels, she created original paintings and took commissions for pet portraits. Jasmine was a skilled artist, deft at capturing both her subjects' looks and their personalities. When passing by her booth, I'd often admired the merchandise she had on display.
Recently Jasmine had expanded into the growing market for custom-made collars and leashes. Her eye for color and symmetry lent her products a special flair, and her strapworks were quickly becoming as popular as her art.
Like all show Poodles, Coral was table trained. When Aunt Peg left, Coral lay down on the tabletop with her head between her front paws, patiently waiting for Aunt Peg to return.
Davey had finished line-brushing Augie and put on his slender show collar. Now Sam supervised as Davey parted the long hair on the Poodle's head and banded together the numerous ponytails that would support Augie's towering topknot. Davey and Sam were spraying up Augie's coat when Aunt Peg reappeared ten minutes later.
"Let me see." I held out my hand. "I bet it's gorgeous."
"I'd be delighted to show it to you," Aunt Peg replied unhappily, "except I don't have it. Jasmine wasn't in her booth. I even waited a few minutes, hoping she'd return, but she never showed up."
"That's odd," Sam commented. "How does she expect to make sales if she isn't there for her customers?"
"I haven't a clue." Aunt Peg sounded huffy. "And it's very disappointing. I had that leash made specially, so I could start Coral's career off right. Now we'll have to do without."
Davey looked over. "I can lend you a lead, Aunt Peg. I have extras."
"Thank you, but no." She walked over and dug around in her tack box. "I have a leash. It's just not the right leash."
Aunt Peg reveled in her dog show superstitions. Heaven forbid you wished her luck before she went in the ring. She would react as though you'd driven a dagger into her heart.
Davey looked at me and shrugged. I returned the gesture.
Aunt Peg sighed. Loudly. "There's nothing to be done for it. We shall simply have to rise above."
My sympathy for her plight was muted. Trust me, if anyone was capable of rising above, it was surely Aunt Peg.
She took out her scissors and applied the final finish to Coral's trim. Over in our setup, Sam and Davey were doing the same to Augie. Crawford and Terry came running back to the tent with their Toy Poodles. They exchanged them for the Standards and quickly got ready to leave again.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Ruff Justice"
Copyright © 2018 Laurien Berenson.
Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Can't wait for more...
Another wonderful Melanie Travis mystery
Not disappointing but truly the caliber we've appreciated in previous novels. I didn't want it to end. Can't wait for next one Ms B.
Just finished reading Ruff Justice by Laurien Berenson and it was terrific! If you're already a fan of Berenson's Melanie Travis Canine Mystery series, you already know that each new release is as good as the ones before it and you've probably already read this next installment in the adventures of Melanie, her family and Standard Poodles, and the the crazy world of dog shows! If you are unfamiliar with this engaging series, what are you waiting for, lol? As longtime fans know, and newcomers discover, the characters in this series quickly feel like friends and it feels like coming home to pick up where we left off when each new book comes out! The author does such a wonderful and natural job of explaining people, the dogs and the show world, that newbies (and even non-dog show people) are quickly up to speed and longtime readers aren't ever bogged down. I have no idea how she does that, but it's awesome because it means you can jump into this 20-plus book series anywhere and not be lost! You'll be putting both chores and bedtime on hold as you stay glued to the pages and feel the ups and downs of Davy's quest for a championship with his poodle Augie, Melanie and Aunt Peg's search for a murderer and a missing dog-sitter, and Melanie's mission to solve the mystery of a suddenly failing new student at her day job as a tutor — all of which is accomplished with humor, witty and natural dialogue, and the perfect combination of action and dialogue.
I never miss a book in this series. I wait with baited breath for a new one to come out. Now these are cozies so I am not saying they are deep, complex books but they are fun, somewhat complex, always entertaining and have lots of dogs in them. Let me tell you one thing...in order to enjoy these books you had better like dogs and you'd better like learning everything about how to show a dog. I happen to like this part of Berenson's books just as much as I enjoy Melanie Travis and her family. Laurien Berenson has created a delightful family and over the years they have changed and grown right along with we readers. As an author, you cannot write 22 books covering a few characters in just a few years’ time without having the creative ability to keep those characters alive and interesting and a group of people your readers identify with. Otherwise, not a soul would read past Book 10. Berenson has obviously accomplished this. This is Book 22 in the series titled "Melanie Davis Canine Mystery". Book 22 can definitely stand alone and be enjoyed without having read earlier books. However…all of Berenson’s books have good reviews. Don’t miss any of them. ***This book was provided to me free of charge in exchange for an honest review.
Ruff Justice by Laurien Berenson is the twenty-second (wow) novel in The Melanie Travis Canine Mystery series. Melanie Travis along with her husband, two sons, and Augie are at the Sedgefield dog show. Davey is hoping to complete Augie’s, his Standard Poodle, championship after two years. Augie does not get the win, but Aunt Peg discovers a dead body. Aunt Peg had ordered a special leash for Coral, her six-month-old Standard Poodle puppy, from artist Jasmine Crane. Jasmine was not at her booth and Aunt Peg (you know how she is) was determined to find the leash. Instead, Aunt Peg found Jasmine strangled behind her booth. The next day, Aunt Peg is visited by her dog sitter’s twin sister, Abby. It seems Amanda Burke has been missing for twenty-four hours and her sister is worried about her. It turns out that Amanda lived in the apartment over Jasmine Crane’s garage. It cannot be a coincidence that Amanda disappeared after Jasmine was murdered. Abby had heard about Aunt Peg and Melanie’s success with investigations in the past. She wants them to find her sister and, of course, they agree. Melanie will have to fit in questioning in between teaching, duties at home (laundry, grocery shopping, cleaning), the kids, the various dog shows, a student who is being bullied, taking care of the dogs, and spending time with her husband, Sam. Melanie has a busy life, but she would not have it any other way. Melanie soon finds herself ensnared in two perplexing mysteries. Ruff Justice contains good writing and established characters. Melanie has grown over the course of the series. She has a happy home life with her two kids, loving husband and six dogs (five Standard Poodles and Bud). Aunt Peg, though, has not changed one iota. She is still headstrong and likes things done her way. Davey, Kevin and the dogs (especially Bud) provide levity. I had a good laugh over the finger paint and tomato incidents. Sam is the stabilizing influence and I love that he does not discourage Melanie’s investigating. The characters are likeable and relatable. The dog show judging is quite interesting (I did not realize how many dog breeds there were). There are many variables as we see in Ruff Justice as Davey and Augie work towards their goal of earning Augie his championship title. It is obvious that the author is well versed in the subject of dog competitions (it comes through in the book). Laurien Berenson explains dog show judging in a way that is easy to understand. One of Melanie’s tutoring students, Francesca is being bullied, and I like how Melanie addresses the situation. The mystery is well-crafted and multi-faceted. I do wish, though, that the author had included a twist. I was able to identify the culprit early in the story (my one complaint). Ruff Justice is not a standalone book. You cannot just pick up Ruff Justice and dive in. My rating for Ruff Justice is 4.5 out of 5 stars. If you are looking for an engaging cozy mystery with great characters and a complicated mystery, then pick up Ruff Justice.
Really a fun read. Great summer escape.
Dollycas’s Thoughts Dog show competitions are a big part of Melanie Travis’ and her family’s life. Her Aunt Peg got the ball rolling and now their house is filled with 5 Standard Poodles and one spotted mutt. Four of the poodles are retired show champions and the poodle that belongs to her 13-year-old son Davey is just a few points away from his championship. Dog shows also include a lot of vendors who sell the wares to the attendees. Over time a close-knit community is formed. Aunt Peg had taken an interest in an artist, Jasmine Crane, who had added accessories like collars and leashes to her custom canine portrait business. Peg had ordered a new leash for her new puppy. When she arrived at Jasmine’s booth to pick it up she found something most disturbing. The artist was dead, a custom leash was around her neck, another murder. Peg gets Melanie involved immediately. Then Peg learns her dog sitter and tenant of Jasmine Crane is missing. Is she missing because she killed her landlord? Or has the killer taken her life too? Or is she hiding because she is in danger? Melanie is searching for answers and is ready to deal out some Ruff Justice, that is even the killer doesn’t set their eyes on her first! I first have to say that I absolutely envy Melanie Travis and her husband Sam and how they handle a household full of 2 sons, 13-year-old Davey and 4-year-old Kevin, the 5 poodles and a wonderful mutt named Bud, all while holding down jobs, weekends full of dog shows, and everything Aunt Peg throws at them. Even when you add a murder and missing person, they still manage to stay on top of everything. Their lives are far from easy can be full of drama, but there are so many moments that had me laughing out loud. Ms. Berenson has created a cast of loveable characters, both human and canine. Over the course of these series, they have become old friends. She has also created a spectacular mystery. Everyone at the dog show is a suspect. The police seem to be stumped, but because Melanie knows the dog show world inside and out and Aunt Peg knows everybody in the dog show world, Melanie is quick to sort out who actually would have wanted Jasmine Crane dead. She also gets a good handle on why the dog sitter is missing. Now she just has to go through the paces and ask the right questions to collar the real culprit. It was so much fun to follow Melanie with each twist and each turn until the whole mystery comes together. I found the subplot of the new student in Melanie’s school very interesting. She takes her Standard Poodle, Faith, to school with her every day. Faith has a way of getting the kids relaxed and ready to learn as Melanie tutors them. A new student opens up to Melanie about a problem she was having after just a couple of sessions. I loved the way she handled the issue head-on. and gave some really good advice. My dogs are a little more low maintenance in the grooming department being Border Collie/Blue Heeler mixes, they had no dog shows to worry about. But their temperament reminds me a lot of Melanie’s dog Faith. They are my canine companions and read my emotions pretty easily. At almost 15 years old we have a lot of history, but they are slowing down a bit. Our vet told us to prepare ourselves because they are getting up there in age. I don’t even want to think about life without them. Like the dogs in this story and like dogs in most families they are an integral part of our lives. Laurien Berenson brings what I feel every day
As a dog lover there was just no way I could pass this series by. I’ve been reading it since back in the day before the term “cozy” mystery was ever mentioned. I have loved every single one of them. (I will admit with some shame that I didn’t review back then. So, this is only my fifth book in the series with a review.) Author Laurien Berenson has done it again. I was so invested in the story that day turned to night before I realized it. RUFF JUSTICE was an exciting whodunit with suspects and motives aplenty. With more twists and turns than a dog show obstacle course, all my guesses were just that, guesses. The reveal completely caught me off guard. While she certainly writes brilliant mysteries, it author Berenson’s knowledge of canines, and dog competitions that really shine through. I have learned so much about the subject since starting this series, and RUFF JUSTICE has greatly added to that knowledge. Cozy mystery fans, dog lovers, anyone wanting for a wonderful read, RUFF JUSTICE is what you’re looking for!
thoroughly entertaining from start to finish!
“Ruff Justice”, Book 22 in the popular Melanie Travis Canine Mysteries, is a witty masterpiece for fans of pets and dog show competitions. For the Travis family, raising and showing standard poodles is a daily part of their household life. As son, Davey, struggles to lead his dog, Augie, to a championship win, Melanie and Aunt Peg begin to follow a trail of dog treats to expose an unscrupulous theft ring using its ties to the dog show competitors to set up robberies. Ms. Berenson knows the ins and outs of the dog show business and her characters are likable and family oriented. I enjoy the combination of numerous dogs; the hecticness of Melanie and husband Sam’s life with young sons and Aunt Peg; and the excitement at the dog competitions. I doubt I could keep up with a dog in all the backstage flurry at one of the shows! The mystery is well-hidden in the plot structure, but there are clues to stir your curiosity as to who the culprit may be. I’ve never read a book in this series that I didn’t enjoy! I reviewed an ARC provided by the author. Thank you.
Ruff Justice is a sweet and sassy cozy mystery and though it is part of a series it can be read stand alone. Melanie Travis is a multi-tasker, she is a wife and mom, she houses four standard poodles and a mutt, she is a tutor at a high class school and she is an amateur sleuth. This story lets us follow her trail while she juggles all her roles. I really enjoyed the ride. I did find myself googling various dog breeds to see what they looked like while reading this story.