Mystery/Thriller Book Reviews

Page Four of Five

A Hell of A Dog by Carol Lea Benjamin

Walker & Co., October 1998.
Hardcover, 260 pages.
ISBN: 0802733255.
Ordering information:

A Hell of A Dog
by Carol Lea Benjamin With her background as a dog trainer, private eye Rachel Alexander is perfect for her latest assignment: going undercover at a dog training symposium to keep a lid on the notorious acrimony that always erupts when advocates of the various dog training methods (shock collars, psychic divination, food rewards, strict discipline and many others) get together to discuss dog training. Besides, the digs are posh -- the Ritz in Manhattan -- and her canine companion, Dashiell, has all the free gourmet dog food he desires. When she gets to the Ritz, it quickly becomes apparent that someone has more than dog training on his agenda; the dog trainers begin dying off, one by one, in bizarre circumstances. Rachel and Dash must find the culprit and make sure that the symposium is a success in the meantime. Her task is not made any easier by the squabbling panelists, or the fact that she really would rather avoid her ex-love who is also at the seminar.

This is the third entry in this series that no canine lover should miss (See, This Dog for Hire and The Dog Who Knew Too Much). The insights into the fiercely competitive world of dog training are interesting, and the characters of the panelists are especially well-done, from those who have made it, such as the Barbara Wodehouse-inspired character Beryl Potter, and those that have not, such as the trainer who believes chanting is the way to success. Readers who are not especially fond of dogs, or those to whom the very idea of a dog being in constant attendance has them reaching for an antihistamine may find the doggy world a bit peculiar, but to dog lovers, it all makes perfect sense.

--Claire E. White

Murder in the Holy City by Simon Beaufort

St. Martin's Press, Dec., 1998.
Hardcover, 280 pages.
ISBN: 0312195664.
Ordering information:

Murder in the Holy City
by Simon Beaufort In 1100, the city of Jerusalem seethes with discontent. After the brutal siege by the victorious Crusaders, the inhabitants are subdued, but harbor a hatred for the brutal knights who slaughtered so many people, both soldiers and innocents alike, looting and pillaging as they went. Sir Geoffrey Mappestone, a hardened Knight of a more intellectual bent, is happy to be alive, but longing for the green fields of England when he discovers the body of one of his Knights murdered in a young Greek widow's house. Ordered to investigate this death and the deaths of other Knights by Prince Tancred, his liege lord, Geoffrey soon realizes that the deaths are bound to land him in the middle of the political intrigue between the various factions vying for power of the conquered city in which nothing or no one is quite as it seems.

In the first of what this reviewer, for one, hopes will be an ongoing series, Simon Beaufort has crafted an intriguing tale set in the turbulent surroundings of the Holy Land just after the Crusades. The behind the scenes look at the daily life of a real Knight is portrayed vividly, bringing to life these figures heretofore encountered most often in a dusty history book. With political intrigue, great action scenes and a wealth of interesting historical detail which never overwhelms, Murder in the Holy City is a welcome addition to the genre.

--Claire E. White

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