It's a dog's life in the mystery genre. The cats get starring roles, author co-credits, even whole series named after them. The doggie detectives are thrown the scraps. Enter Rachel Alexander, the private eye, who, with her faithful pit bull sidekick, Dashiell, is asked to provide security during a week-long dog training symposium at a posh New York City hotel in "A Hell of a Dog." A former dog trainer herself, Alexander knew the participants, each of whom believed that their philosophy, whether involving the use of prompt and frequent rewards, punishments or reading the pooch's psychic aura, will make them the next Barbara Wodehouse. Her job is complicated by the presence of a now ex-lover who decided to go back to his wife. "A Hell of a Dog" earns its best of show ribbon on several levels. The mystery is suitably mystifying, Alexander is an intelligent heroine with a heart, and the dog handlers are an entertaining pack of purebreeds and mutts. Watching them snapping and snarling at each other is only one of the book's pleasures. Benjamin writes knowledgeably about the dog world and the handlers' discussions and arguments about training are enlightening without being intrusive.
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About the reviewer
Bill Peschel (Bill_Peschel)
Bill Peschel was born in 1960 in Ohio, and grew up there and in North Carolina. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a B.A. in journalism. At The Avalon Hill Game Company … more
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Someone is killing the great dog trainers of the world, and it's up to former dog trainer and current PI Rachel Alexander and her trusty pitbull, Dashiell, to stop the carnage. Noted trainer Samantha Lewis is organizing a dog-training symposium at a posh New York City hotel. All of the scheduled participants detest one another. Worried that arguments over training methodology could get out of control, Sam hires Rachel to go under cover. When the first trainer is electrocuted in his bathtub, it seems like nothing more than a terrible accident. But the trainers continue to drop, one choking, another jumping off the hotel's roof. At first, Rachel considers this series of deaths a tragic coincidence, but she's been distracted by the presence of her old flame, renowned dog trainer Chip Pressman. When she finally puts her detecting talents to work, the pattern emerges and the plot moves toward a startling denouement. Expertly blending dog-training lore with an excellent and satisfying mystery, Shamus Award winner (in 1997 for Best First PI Novel for This Dog for Hire) Benjamin breaks out of the sophomore slump she fell into with The Dog Who Knew Too Much and makes good on the promise of her debut. Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.