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.
When her Aunt Peg lands a gig as judge at a Kentucky dog show, Melanie Travis welcomes the opportunity for a road trip. Too bad a killer has planned a deadly detour . . .
For a dog lover like Melanie, the opportunity to attend the Kentuckiana Dog Show Cluster is not to be missed. Fortunately, the timing coincides with her spring break from teaching, so she heads for central Kentucky with her sister-in-law Bertie and Aunt Peg, who's accepted a week-long judging assignment. Once there, Aunt Peg reconnects with an old friend, Ellie Gates Wanamaker, a former Standard Poodle exhibitor and a member of a well-heeled Kentucky family. Miss Ellie has been out of the dog show world for more than a decade, but when Melanie invites her to spectate at the Louisville Kennel Club dog show, she's eager to accompany her.
Miss Ellie's presence at the expo center, however, provokes mixed reactions from exhibitors she hasn't seen in years, including some outright animosity. The following day Melanie learns that Miss Ellie has suffered a fatal accident while exercising her dogs. Aunt Peg, however, suspects foul play. Wishing to avoid any scandal, Miss Ellie's pedigreed family prefers to let sleeping dogs lie, but as Melanie begins to sniff around, she discovers Miss Ellie had many secrets, both in the dog show world and amongst her Kentucky kin . . .
As the dog days of summer turn to the playful nip of autumn's chill, Melanie Travis is ready for a little relaxation. Her Aunt Peg has the perfect solution--a five-day symposium for dog show judges in Pennsylvania's idyllic Pocono Mountains. While Peg and Melanie's sister-in-law Bertie welcome the opportunity to socialize with the dog world's elite, the very pregnant Melanie embraces the chance to simply unwind.
But when renowned judge Charles Evans delivers a keynote address that irritates many of the attendees, the symposium's agenda takes a deadly turn. For later that evening, Charles is found floating face-down in the outdoor hot tub.
With few clues to go on, the police are baffled. But Melanie decides to take matters into her own hands, suspecting that a cold-blooded murderer may lurk among her fellow dog-lovers...
Despite a toddler and a house full of Standard Poodles, Melanie Travis can't pass up an opportunity to help legendary dog breeder Edward March pen his life story. But her enthusiasm flags when the breeder's angry son Andrew demands she stop working on the book. Why becomes imperative once Andrew is killed by a seemingly intentional hit-and-run and Melanie becomes Suspect #1. To get herself out of the dog house, Melanie sniffs out every possible clue, only to run into dead ends as fast as she's running out of time. And the longer the killer stays unleashed, the sooner she may end up in the dog house for good.
Win, Place. . .Or Die.
The apparent heart attack that killed kennel owner Max Turnbull has left seven pups in mourning, and his wife Peg suspecting foul play. But the only evidence is their missing prize pooch--a pedigreed poodle named Beau.
Enter Melanie Travis. With her young son happily ensconced in day damp, the thirty-something teacher and single mother is talked into investigating her uncle's death--unofficially, of course. Posing as a poodle breeder in search of the perfect stud, Melanie hounds Connecticut's elite canine competitions, and finds an ally in fellow breeder Sam Driver. But her affection cools when she's put on the scent of Sam's questionable past. . .and hot on the trail of a poodle-hating neighbor and one elusive murderer who isn't ready to come to heel.
For, as Melanie soon discovers, in a championship dog-eat-dog world, the instinct for survival, and winning, can prove fatal.