For once, there is an air of calm in single mom Melanie Travis life. Of course, this peace doesnt last long. Her first problem appears at the private school where she teaches. She finds the custodian, Eugene Krebbs, shouting at a young girl. Melanie intervenes, incurring the wrath of Krebbs, and learns that the girl, Jane, is a truant from the local public school.

Jane runs off, only to be seen from time to time over the next several days. Another problem crops up that weekend at the dog show where Melanie has entered her Standard Poodle, Faith. Her lover, Sam Driver, is a poodle breeder who also has an entry at the showand a lovely ex-wife he has never told Melanie about in the course of their two-year relationship.

Shocked at the revelation, Melanie decides to concentrate on her job, but that proves almost impossible when Krebbs is murdered, and the truant girl Jane is the person who discovers the body. Melanie builds up a relationship with Jane and gets her to work with the police. However, Melanie is not the sort to let an investigation be carried on without her help.

HUSH PUPPY, the newest entry in the Melanie Travis series, is an exceptionally fine story that successfully combines poignancy, suspense, and humorthe scene where Melanie and the ex-wife meet for the first time is worth the price of admission alone. As usual, there are many facts about the world of dog shows presented and Ms. Berenson also includes a recipe for dog treats! (Sep., 320 pp., $5.99—Hardcover published October 1999)

Reviewed by: 
Toby Bromberg