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.
The world of show dogs-and their handlers, judges, breeders and owners-provides the principle background in this competent, somewhat drawn-out debut. Melanie Travis, 30, a teacher in Stamford, Conn., and the divorced mother of four-year-old Davey, doesn't own a dog, although her aunt Peg and uncle Max breed standard poodles. One morning Max is found dead of a heart attack on the kennel floor; after the funeral, Peg asks Melanie to find Beau, the kennel's star stud dog that has been missing since the night Max died. Melanie, whose summer job has fallen through, agrees but doesn't necessarily agree with Peg that someone else must have been in the kennel that night. Setting out on the dog-show circuit, ostensibly seeking a world-class mate for her poodle, Melanie meets assorted handlers and breeders, a respected judge and an attractive hunk named Sam Driver who had tried very hard to buy Beau from Max. In fairly predictable girl-sleuth tradition, Melanie also encounters murder and the possibility of romance. A bonanza for ardent dog fanciers and for others, a likable heroine in a smoothly paced romantic mystery.