Bite Club (A Melanie Travis Mystery)
23rd in Series
Setting – Connecticut
Kensington (June 25, 2019)
Hardcover: 288 pages
Kindle ASIN: B07HVS1JPT
Melanie Travis’s new book club caters to readers craving fiction—with bite! But when a real-life murder case bares its fangs, she’ll need to swap dog-eared novels for a lengthy suspect list . . .
Thanks to Aunt Peg and her enthusiastic pedigree dog show pals, Melanie’s aptly named Bite Club reading group has book lovers all over town burying their noses in thrilling murder mysteries. But another pet project surfaces when Melanie reluctantly agrees to train a Bulldog puppy for elusive member Evan Major. Between the unusual bruise on his face and a bizarre run-in with an unknown dog show attendee, introverted Evan can’t dodge trouble. It even sends him to an early grave—while landing Melanie in the hot seat for homicide . . .
Caught at the wrong place at the wrong time, Melanie delves into the victim’s shady past to prove her innocence. As she uncovers a juicy scandal that cost Evan his marriage and, possibly, his life, Melanie realizes that booking the real culprit comes down to gathering her pack of suspects together at the next Bite Club meeting. What she doesn’t know is Aunt Peg has been hiding some explosive secrets of her own—secrets that, once unleashed, could pit Melanie against an unpredictable killer bent on bringing this story to an abrupt end . . .
Melanie Travis had the grand idea of starting a book club with a group of his friends who love mysteries and the Bite Club is born. Then her Aunt Peg butts in and invites a bunch of “friends of her own”. A band of dog show buffs that would never say NO to a judge that could hold their dog’s fates in her hands. One of the other members brings a guest but his true reason for attending is revealed as soon as the meeting ends. Evan Major is new in town and has just purchased a bulldog puppy and he asks Melanie to help train the dog. Melanie agrees and soon takes the man under her wing even inviting him to a weekend dog show. She sees a different side of him when he gets into an argument with another man at the dog show.
When Melanie arrives for her second training session with Major and his dog Bully, she finds the pup roaming around outside by himself. After pounding on the man’s door and getting no answer she takes Bully home to her already dog-filled house. When the police come knocking on her door she knows the news won’t be good. Evan Major is dead and one of his neighbors saw Melanie at the house the day before. Yup, she is on the suspect list!
She decides to take a “bite outta crime” to find the killer herself and she uncovers scandal and secrets galore.
The Travis family including all the canines is my favorite cozy family. With everything, she has going on in her life her starting a book club was really no surprise and neither was Aunt Peg’s takeover. Peg tries Melanie’s patience almost every day of the week. In this story, she also gets on Davey’s nerves as well. Peg is a formidable woman and everyone knows to just back off and let her do her thing. I find the way Laurien Berenson portrays her characters is amazing. True to life and so much fun to follow. She takes time to catch readers up on life with the Travis family before introducing any new characters in a believable way before she dives into the murder mystery part of the story.
This time the body wasn’t found until about 1/3 of the way through the book and that was perfect. We didn’t know everything about Evan Major but we knew enough to care about who killed him because we knew Melanie is no killer. What the author lays out is a pretty complex mystery with several other suspects. I loved the way the book club was utilized with the classic cozy tradition of getting as many suspects in one room as possible in hopes of getting them to out themselves or others they are close too. Wonderful plotting made this story a delight to read.
In addition to getting into the main mystery, Melanie is asked to solve another one for a close friend. Afraid to overstep, she finds herself shy about fulfilling the request. When push comes to shove she makes a very interesting observation that shines the problem in a whole different light.
As always, dogs are featured lovingly from the first page to the last. We get behind the scenes at dog shows and a look at how much grooming goes into keeping Melanie’s adorable poodles in fine form. A special treat is her first poodle, Faith. The dog is empathetic and a perfect pal to have when you are feeling down. She is also an excellent sounding board for Melanie because they have a special understanding. Melanie talks to Faith the same way I do with my dogs. Faith understands Melanie better than Oreo and Nera do me but we get our points across. 🙂
That special bulldog on the cover stole my heart. Ms. Berenson uses Evan’s experiences to help people who don’t have or haven’t had dogs understand what commitment is made whether you have a purebred show dog or a rescued mutt you are a vital part of their lives and need to plan accordingly.
Each slice of life we get to explore with Melanie Travis is engaging, completely holds my attention and always makes me a bit sad when I reach the final page.
While this is a long-running series each book is written to stand on its own. Don’t be afraid to take a huge bite out of Bite Club. I can’t promise you won’t want to devour every other Melanie Travis Canine Mystery.
About This Author
Laurien Berenson is an Agatha and Macavity Nominee, winner of the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award, and four-time winner of the Maxwell Award, presented by the Dog Writers Association of America. She and her husband live on a farm in Kentucky surrounded by dogs and horses.
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