Melanie Travis teaches at an exclusive private school, her son Davey is settling into first grade, her romance with Sam is going strong, and she plans to enter her poodle Faith in shows. The only fly in the ointment is her brother Frank, who flits from one harebrained scheme to another.

He and wealthy partner Marcus Rattigan are going in together on a coffee bar. The neighbors organize protests and even sabotage the building. Frank asks Melanie for advice and a loan. Shell give him advice aplenty, but no money.

When Marcus is murdered, Frank becomes the chief suspect. Melanie knows her kid brother is not a killer. Since the police seem intent on pinning the crime on Frank, Melanie takes matters into her own hands. She discovers that Marcus Rattigan had many enemies and may have sabotaged his own coffee bar. He also once sponsored show dogs, and the key to the whole mystery might lie with an aging wire-haired terrier.

WATCHDOG is a fine entry in the Melanie Travis series, which consistently provides topnotch storytelling and interesting facts about dogs. The mystery is exceptionally strong, and WATCHDOG entertains and informs on all levels. (Oct., 314 pp., $5.99)

Reviewed by: 
Toby Bromberg