P.I. Rachel Alexander gets a dream assignment. She and her partner, a pit bull named Dash (as in Dashiell Hammett) are staying in a posh NY hotel to make sure that trouble doesnt break out at a dog trainers convention. Rachel, before she took up investigating, was a dog handler and she knows many of the people and dogs who will be at the convention. As an added bonus, her former lover, Chip Pressman, is also attending.

Everything gets off to a wonderful start. The whos who of the dog world is there. Unfortunately, within a short time tempers rise and jealousies flare, for the one thing no two dog trainers can agree on is how best to train a dog. Then a series of deadly accidents occur. One trainerwho used shock collarsis electrocuted in the bath. Another traineran advocate of training with foodchokes to death at a gala meal. As the accidents continue, Rachel realizes that someone will stop at nothing in order to become the top dog.

A HELL OF A DOG is a wonderful read on all counts. The mystery is neatly plotted, characterization is excellent, theres the right touch of romance, and the dogs are superb. Benjamin also throws in some fascinating details about dog training. (Sep., 306 pp., $5.99)

Reviewed by: 
Toby Bromberg