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Review ❤️ Ruff Justice by Laurien Berenson

July 17, 2018

ruff justice laurien berenson

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 . . .

Release Date: Jun 26, 2018
Series: Melanie Travis Canine Mystery
Publisher: Kensington
Price: $12.99


The world of dog shows is a way of life for Melanie Travis and her family. Melanie is proud of her award-winning standard poodles and her aunt is a long-time dog breeder, dog show participant, and judge. Melanie’s teenaged son Davey is also getting into the act trying to help his own poodle become a champion. However, Melanie, Peg, and the rest of the dog show community is shocked when a show vendor is found murdered in her own concession booth. When Aunt Peg’s dog sitter, who is a tenant of the murdered woman, disappears the same day, Melanie is soon on the case to get to the truth of what really happened to both young women.

I have read a couple of the prior books in this series, but I don’t follow it regularly. I had no problem connecting with the characters, and I think new readers will enjoy the book just as much as long-time fans. Melanie is a relatable character, She works as a special needs tutor during the week and accompanies her son to dog shows on the weekends. All of the different settings in the book are equally interesting. I like the scenes with Melanie at work, especially when she is helping a new girl fit in to the school and put a stop to the bullying she is experiencing. In addition, the dog shows are just as exciting as the mystery. I was on the edge of my seat during some of the dog show judging scenes, rooting for Davey as he shows his poodle. I’ve never been to a dog show, but the author makes it sound very exciting.

The mystery is a good one and as Melanie looks into the murder, she learns the victim had many secrets and no shortage of people who may have had a motive to kill her. Melanie is a credible amateur sleuth who is easy to like. The same can’t be said about the no-nonsense Aunt Peg. Peg is blunt to the point of rudeness and is very pushy at times. She is often correct in her opinions, but the way she goes about expressing them is sometimes hard to take. I like the other main characters, such as Melanie’s husband and older son, so Peg is the only one that I often found to be annoying.

I like how the author ties the murder and the disappearance together, and I enjoyed how the book ends. I think dog-lovers and anyone else looking for a well-written cozy mystery with interesting characters and settings will enjoy Ruff Justice.

~ Christine

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