Thursday, June 28, 2018

Ruff Justice: A Melanie Travis Canine Mystery

Ruff Justice by Laurien Berenson is the twenty-second (wow) novel in The Melanie Travis Canine Mystery series.  Melanie Travis along with her husband, two sons, and Augie are at the Sedgefield dog show.  Davey is hoping to complete Augie’s, his Standard Poodle, championship after two years.  Augie does not get the win, but Aunt Peg discovers a dead body.  Aunt Peg had ordered a special leash for Coral, her six-month-old Standard Poodle puppy, from artist Jasmine Crane.  Jasmine was not at her booth and Aunt Peg (you know how she is) was determined to find the leash.  Instead, Aunt Peg found Jasmine strangled behind her booth.  The next day, Aunt Peg is visited by her dog sitter’s twin sister, Abby.  It seems Amanda Burke has been missing for twenty-four hours and her sister is worried about her.  It turns out that Amanda lived in the apartment over Jasmine Crane’s garage.  It cannot be a coincidence that Amanda disappeared after Jasmine was murdered.  Abby had heard about Aunt Peg and Melanie’s success with investigations in the past.  She wants them to find her sister and, of course, they agree.  Melanie will have to fit in questioning in between teaching, duties at home (laundry, grocery shopping, cleaning), the kids, the various dog shows, a student who is being bullied, taking care of the dogs, and spending time with her husband, Sam.  Melanie has a busy life, but she would not have it any other way.  Melanie soon finds herself ensnared in two perplexing mysteries.

Ruff Justice contains good writing and established characters.  Melanie has grown over the course of the series.  She has a happy home life with her two kids, loving husband and six dogs (five Standard Poodles and Bud).  Aunt Peg, though, has not changed one iota.  She is still headstrong and likes things done her way.  Davey, Kevin and the dogs (especially Bud) provide levity.  I had a good laugh over the finger paint and tomato incidents.    Sam is the stabilizing influence and I love that he does not discourage Melanie’s investigating.  The characters are likeable and relatable. The dog show judging is quite interesting (I did not realize how many dog breeds there were).  There are many variables as we see in Ruff Justice as Davey and Augie work towards their goal of earning Augie his championship title. It is obvious that the author is well versed in the subject of dog competitions (it comes through in the book).  Laurien Berenson explains dog show judging in a way that is easy to understand.  One of Melanie’s tutoring students, Francesca is being bullied, and I like how Melanie addresses the situation.  The mystery is well-crafted and multi-faceted.  I do wish, though, that the author had included a twist.  I was able to identify the culprit early in the story (my one complaint).  Ruff Justice is not a standalone book.  You cannot just pick up Ruff Justice and dive in.  My rating for Ruff Justice is 4.5 out of 5 stars.  If you are looking for an engaging cozy mystery with great characters and a complicated mystery, then pick up Ruff Justice

The first book in A Melanie Travis Canine Mystery series is A Pedigree to Die.  Thank you for visiting today and reading my review.  I will be featuring Buried in Books by Kate Carlisle tomorrow.  It is the twelfth A Bibliophile Mystery.  Brooklyn Wainwright is getting married!  May you have a bewitching day.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader 

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