The dog days of summer have just begun, and Melanie Travis is looking forward to savoring each lazy afternoon. And where better to enjoy herself than at her Aunt Peg's Fourth of July barbecue? It sounds ideal, until an uninvited guest proves that even the laziest dog day of the year can suddenly turn vicious.
Melanie knew someone should have kept Barry Turk on a short leash. The star poodle handler and ladykiller had a habit of chicanery that bred contempt in the dog show circuit, particularly among its female members. But when Barry is shot dead in his own driveway, even Melanie is stunned at how unsporting the competition can get. Soon Melanie is investigating a litter of suspects which includes Barry's ruthless young assistant, her hot-tempered boyfriend, A Blue Ribbon judge with a grudge, and even Barry's last lover, Alicia. Now, as Melanie digs for clues deep under Connecticut's well-groomed surface, she finds herself sniffing around in the killer's own backyard, and counts herself lucky to have the animal instincts to keep herself alive.
For her fourth adventure, Connecticut poodle owner Melanie Travis returns to the Dog Eat Dog (1996) world of high-tech grooming and showing. With her five-year-old son, Davey, Melanie attends her Aunt Peg's Fourth of July barbecue where she learns of the scandal surrounding Alicia Devane, who has left her husband for a generally disliked dog handler named Barry Turk. The next night, following a win at a popular poodle show, Barry is shot to death at his home. Melanie jumps at the chance to investigate when Alicia asks her to see if she can identify the killer. The case is complicated by Alicia's announcement that she is pregnant and the discovery that Barry had recently written a will, leaving everything to her. Talking to owners and handlers at successive dog shows, Melanie builds a picture of Barry as a self-satisfied, occasionally charismatic man with many enemies and few friends. Then Alicia declares that neither her dead lover nor her husband is the father of her child. A second murder of a dog-world figure close to Alicia moves Melanie to step up her investigation behind the dog-show scenes. Abundant with dog lore, this lighthearted adventure will charm dog fanciers and cozy fans. Mystery Guild alternate.