To those of us who have been following single mother Melanie
Travis and her journey, from owning her first Standard
Poodle to being at the heart of a loving family with five
champion dogs, another book is a boon. LIVE AND LET GROWL
starts with Melanie, her new husband Sam and two sons,
celebrating a birthday. Her first large black dog Faith was
acquired at the instruction of Melanie's indomitable Aunt
Peg. However, in a new departure Peg announces that she has
taken ownership of a retired racehorse in Kentucky.
Authors like Laurien Berenson with a successful long-
running series always have to come up with some new
direction that keeps the series fresh while holding true to
the characters and circumstances. Peg insists
that Melanie come with her during a break from teaching,
leaving cold Connecticut behind as they head south with a
car full of Poodles. The racehorse, Lucky Luna, is a
broodmare, an inheritance from a friend. The two ladies
don't know much about horses, but of course Peg knows
someone in Kentucky from dog shows; Miss Ellie Wanamaker,
another fine senior lady, who keeps Jack Russell terriers.
From pedigree stables to nearby dog shows is a short
stretch with these ladies, and they persuade Miss Ellie to
revisit the dog world. However, her appearance at a major
show excites lively remarks and reawakens old rivalries.
Sadly, a death follows.
I really enjoyed the excellent descriptions of the Kentucky
stud farms and dog show. The characters, both longstanding
and recently introduced, human and animal, are so real that
you'd swear you had met them. Meg's sister in law Bertie is
expecting, so there's plenty of girl chat among the
attempts to discover the reason for the death. If you are
not into dogs at all, this probably won't suit you as we
spend many pages combing coats, watching gaits or observing
judging. But dog lovers will be in their element, and the
high priced horses make a good comparison.
LIVE AND LET GROWL is thoroughly modern but low-tech, with
traditional family values to the fore. The tale is
suitable for anyone from teens upwards, and top mystery
author Laurien Berenson has done extremely well in this
latest offering. Judge for yourself.
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 . . .