Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Unleashed: Melanie Travis Solves Again!

Unleashed (Melanie Travis Mystery)by Laurien Berenson (F BER Main; SSB F BER Main)
Reviewed by Susan Wolfe

This is a charming series.  The stories are like eating potato chips – you will want to gobble them all up.  Each book is a satisfying mystery, linked by the up-and-down career and somewhat normal life of Melanie.   Melanie is a teacher and a divorced single mom.  She loves poodles.  Melanie has another passion too– solving mysteries. 

In fact, almost all of the characters are connected to the dog show world one way or another. Her Aunt Peg is dogmatic (pun intended).  She is a breeder of championship poodles and is very opinionated and determined to interfere in Melanie’s life.   Although a novice showing dogs, Melanie’s pet poodle is quickly becoming a star. 

The stories are set in the dog show world.  It’s an interesting and varied backdrop that includes a lot of quirky people involved with dogs in some way.  There are groomers, professional showers, and breeders.  There are also links to canine related topics such as doggie daycare and pet food. 

In Unleashed, Melanie is planning a wedding – her own.   Her fiancĂ©e Sam also raises poodles. Everything is going right in her world, with one exception.  Sam’s ex-wife, Sheila has moved into the area and Shelia has made it apparent that she wants Sam back.  She calls Melanie to bury the hatchet by inviting them to dinner.  To their surprise, Sam’s former best friend is there.  Not only that, but they are starting a National Enquirer type of magazine about dog shows.  Soon afterward, Shelia is murdered.  The police think it was a burglary gone bad, but Melanie and Sam suspect otherwise.  It affects Sam deeply and he asks Melanie to do some checking around.  The list of suspects is long. 

There are some interesting side plots too.  Faith, Melanie’s poodle is pregnant.  Her son Davey has a bully at school picking on him.  The bully issue is resolved in a funny way with Aunt Peg’s interference.  She calls the kids parents to tell them they won free dog training lessons.  She plans on training not only their dog, but also their son.

This series is delightful.  The behind scenes look at dog shows is fascinating.  If you love animals, you will be hooked.

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