Murder at the Puppy Fest by Laurien Berenson is the 20th book in the “Melanie Travis” mystery series. Publisher: Kensington, coming June 27, 2017

Frolicking with dogs is Melanie Travis’s idea of heaven. So when she’s invited to be a “puppy wrangler” at a benefit for a local dog rescue, the last thing she expects is to be chasing after a tricky killer.

As a busy mom and pedigree Poodle owner, Melanie has little time to spare. Still, she doesn’t mind helping out at Puppy Fest, an annual fundraiser to benefit Puppy Posse, a local dog rescue organization. Considering the venue–Belle Haven mansion, owned by wealthy philanthropist Leo Brody–it’s shaping up to be the can’t-miss charity event of the summer. Unfortunately, when Melanie’s breeding background lands her in the doghouse with Jane, Leo’s snappy daughter who runs the rescue, Melanie finds herself simultaneously managing Puppy Fest and the millionaire’s hopelessly fractious family.

But once Puppy Fest kicks off, Leo is nowhere to be found–until Melanie discovers his current mistress crouching over his dead body. According to police, the father of nine’s severe nut allergy went into overdrive after he accidentally consumed a contaminated cookie. However, Libby, one of Leo’s children and a friend of Melanie’s Aunt Peg, believes someone deliberately put him down for good. And now, she’s begging a reluctant Melanie to unearth the secrets hidden by the Brody pack. But the closer Melanie gets to fetching answers, the higher the stakes become–and the more she realizes that she’s chasing a criminal who’s been groomed to win.

I always like my annual visit with Melanie and her friends and family. Murder is afoot and Melanie finds herself once again involved and it’s her interactions with humans and our furry friends that makes this book a delight to read.

I love the comfortable tone and the evenly paced tempo of this whodunit that grabbed my attention with the first sighting of “Bud.” The author did a great job in delivering a well-written mystery with plenty of suspects and enough clues to keep me glued to the pages as I had to know what happens next. The narrative was visually descriptive, putting me in the middle of all the action and I liked that when I thought I had a handle on the person behind the murder, the author changed the direction with some twists and turns, all to the betterment of this captivating story. I enjoyed my time with this story and look forward to the next one is this wonderfully appealing series.

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FTC Full Disclosure – I received a digital ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.

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