City Hounds

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Book Review: Brute Strength by Susan Conant

Brute Strength (A Dog Lover's Mystery, #19)

I’m a mystery lover.  I love “cozies,” those stories of amateur detectives who do something else for a living (coffee barista, herbal shop owner, vintage clothing collector…).

After we adopted Red three years ago, I scoured the library for all dog-related books.  Most of the fiction didn’t interest me too much, but the mysteries sure did.  I sat down and read nearly ALL the Dog Lover’s mysteries (fifteen or sixteen of them?) over my Christmas break that year, and I’ve finished the series and reread several since then.

So, when I discovered Susan Conant had a new book in the series out, I reserved it at the library and had it within a few days.  Holly and Steve are married now, and new malamute-loving neighbors have moved in just down the street.  But as soon as Holly begins to befriend Vanessa and her malamut Ulla, tragedy strikes when Vanessa’s soon-to-be daughter-in-law is killed in a car accident.

Holly and Steve are very upset since the young woman left on her trip from their home.  It’s speculated that the girl fell asleep at the wheel, and Holly is left to wonder if there is something they could have done to stop her from driving.  But when another neighbor dies, Holly starts receiving threatening phone calls, and Holly’s stepmother Gabrielle also nearly falls asleep at the wheel, Holly begins to think there’s something more at play.

Now, aside from the murder and mystery, there are, of course, plenty of dogs.  Holly is working with the malamute rescue to place their rescued dogs, and she’s forced to turn down several applications for unsuitable homes.  Could one of the angry applicants be behind the phone calls… maybe even the murders?

As always, the book explores several issues in dogdom: finding the right home for rescued animals, choosing the right breed for your home, positive training techniques and having fun when competing your dog.  For the first time in any of the books, Holly and Steve judge an event at a small dog show and it’s nice to see their emphasis on fun, something competitive Holly has struggled with in the past.  For someone like me who is a firm believer in rescue, it’s alway interesting to catch this glimpse into the world of purebred show dogs.  However, while I admire Conant’s effort to include breed specific rescue into the books, I can’t help but want Holly to adopt a mixed breed dog.  But then, a good old mutt would probably outshine all her purebreds at events.

A definite must-read for fans of Holly Winter.  For those of you who haven’t read the series: well, what are you waiting for?

Read another reviwe at The Bark

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November 21, 2011 - Posted by | Book Reviews

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