By: Terri Schlichenmeyer
The buckle on the collar is fastened tightly.
It’s not foolproof, but it’s the best way you know to protect your dog. Add to that collar a leash with you at the other end, and Doggo isn’t going anywhere without you. But in “Ruff Justice,” the new whodunit by Laurien Berenson, a collar and a lead won’t protect anyone from murder.
Thirteen-year-old Davey had high hopes. His dog, Augie, was just a few points away from Champion and it had to happen that weekend. It had to. After all, as Davey’s mom, Melanie Travis knew, showing Standard Poodles was practically a family tradition and Davey was a natural in the ring.
But adding points toward Augie’s Champion status wasn’t the only remarkable thing that happened that weekend. Though dog shows were usually social events mostly among friends, someone else thought differently and strangled Jasmine Crane, local artist and regular exhibitor.
But there was more: Abby Burke, sister of well-regarded dog-sitter, Amanda, came to Melanie’s Aunt Peg’s house, looking for Amanda, who was missing. Melanie agreed to help; she was good at that sort of thing, and when she learned that Amanda had rented an apartment from Jasmine, well, there were just too many coincidences.
Amanda, as it turned out, had a boyfriend, Rick, and he was one truly awful human being. Then again, Jasmine was no sweetheart: having pilfered husbands as well as jewelry and expensive artwork, she was a thief of the highest magnitude. Was Jasmine having an affair with Rick – and if not, could Amanda be afraid of him somehow? And then there was Jasmine’s supposed friend, Sadie, who liked dogs much more than she liked people and who almost refused to speak to Melanie unless Melanie brought her poodle, Faith, along. Sadie was eccentric, to say the least.
As Melanie poked around and asked questions, nobody within dog show circles was willing to point any fingers but it was obvious that Jasmine was nobody’s favorite person. She was demanding, conniving, and few were sorry to learn that she was gone – but who would have reason enough to kill her?
Uncomplicated. That’s how you want your reading at this time in the year, heading into back-to-school, done with vacations, sliding into fall. You want something not-too-intricate. You want “Ruff Justice.”
For so many reasons, “Ruff Justice” may be perfect for you: this mystery doesn’t have car chases or sniper’s bullets. No international spy stuff, no violence and only a small handful of the most minor of swear words. Yes, author Laurien Berenson packs a lot of characters into her story but overall, this is an easy book that doesn’t take a thousand watts of brain-power to read or enjoy.
Pick-it-up-and-put-it-down easy. Just right for late summer.
Be aware that a basic knowledge of the dog show industry will help in enjoying this book but don’t fret if you haven’t got it. There are enough clues in this mystery to help even a neophyte catch up quick, which makes “Ruff Justice” a book anyone should collar.