It all started when I had a dream about a horse.
Next thing I knew Aunt Peg was meddling in my life again and I was on my way to Kentucky: home of bluegrass, bourbon, and Thoroughbred horses. You’re probably wondering what any of that has to do with Standard Poodles. Frankly so was I.
My Aunt Peg is an expert on all things canine and dog shows are her favorite milieu. Her involvement with the Poodle breed is her life’s work. So this sudden detour into the world of horse breeding—prompted by an unexpected bequest from an old friend–came as a surprise.
According to Aunt Peg, the make and shape of a useful animal can be recognized by an educated eye even across different species. She says that it’s all about balance and proportion, and the animal’s ability to do the job for which it was bred. I say that Standard Poodles are as different from Thoroughbreds as chalk is to cheese.
If you’ve met Aunt Peg before, you can probably guess who won that argument. So here we are in Kentucky. We’ll be spending half the week at the Kentuckiana dog show cluster in Louisville and the other half checking out Thoroughbred farms in Lexington.
Our local advisor for this unlikely endeavor is Ellie Gates Wanamaker. Miss Ellie is a former Poodle breeder and another old friend of Aunt Peg’s. She also enjoys the privilege of being a member of one of Kentucky’s finest blue blood families. Miss Ellie has promised to help us make good connections in the Thoroughbred industry. With her guidance, Aunt Peg hopes to steer clear of the pitfalls that newcomers to the world of horseracing have been known to fall prey to.
It all seemed like an excellent plan until Miss Ellie turned up dead.
Nobody was surprised–least of all me–when Aunt Peg decided that we couldn’t leave Kentucky until we knew what caused her old friend’s demise. But since Peg is busy judging at the dog show cluster it looks as though that chore is going to fall to me.
Fortunately, I find that I’m developing a taste for good bourbon and fast horses. I’m also discovering that Kentucky is a very different world than the one I’m used to. Miss Ellie warned Aunt Peg and me to be careful and she wasn’t kidding. The dog show world can be cut-throat but it’s a ray of sunshine compared to what these horse people get up to when they think no one is looking.
Live and Let Growl is the 19th book in the Melanie Travis mystery series, published by Kensington, July 2016.
When her Aunt Peg lands a gig as judge at a Kentucky dog show, Melanie Travis welcomes the opportunity for a road trip. Too bad a killer has planned a deadly detour . . .
For a dog lover like Melanie, the opportunity to attend the Kentuckiana Dog Show Cluster is not to be missed. Fortunately, the timing coincides with her spring break from teaching, so she heads for central Kentucky with her sister-in-law Bertie and Aunt Peg, who’s accepted a week-long judging assignment. Once there, Aunt Peg reconnects with an old friend, Ellie Gates Wanamaker, a former Standard Poodle exhibitor and a member of a well-heeled Kentucky family. Miss Ellie has been out of the dog show world for more than a decade, but when Melanie invites her to spectate at the Louisville Kennel Club dog show, she’s eager to accompany her.
Miss Ellie’s presence at the expo center, however, provokes mixed reactions from exhibitors she hasn’t seen in years, including some outright animosity. The following day Melanie learns that Miss Ellie has suffered a fatal accident while exercising her dogs. Aunt Peg, however, suspects foul play. Wishing to avoid any scandal, Miss Ellie’s pedigreed family prefers to let sleeping dogs lie, but as Melanie begins to sniff around, she discovers Miss Ellie had many secrets, both in the dog show world and amongst her Kentucky kin . . .
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About the author
Laurien Berenson is the author of thirty novels that have sold more than two million copies worldwide. Her cozy mystery series revolves around the world of dog shows, a milieu she knows well as her family has been involved in the sport of dogs for three generations. There are currently nineteen Melanie Travis canine mysteries including the newest book, Live and Let Growl.
Berenson is a four-time winner of the Maxwell Award for Fiction from the Dog Writers Assoc. of America and a winner of the Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Award. She is also an Agatha and Macavity nominee. Her work has appeared in The New York Times as well as numerous magazines. She is a graduate of Vassar College, and she and her husband live on a farm in Kentucky, surrounded by horses and dogs.
Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a print copy of Live and Let Growl. US entries only, please. The giveaway will end August 1, 2016 at 12 AM (midnight) EST. Good luck everyone!
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