Okay, first of all, how adorable is this cover?! One look at those adorable Dalmatian puppy faces, and I knew I had to read this book. And I’m happy to report that Pup Fiction lived up to its promise!
This is the 27th instalment in the Melanie Travis cozy mystery series, but as a total newbie myself to the series, I can attest that you don’t need to read the first 26 volumes to enjoy this mystery. Series lead Melanie raises show dogs for competition, and solves mysteries with her indomitable Aunt Peg, a dog breeder and dog show judge.
In Pup Fiction, Melanie drops off her sons at her friend Emily Grace’s summer camp, only to learn that Emily is being plagued by a mysterious run of mishaps. Fortunately, no one has been hurt so far, but with events like her Dalmatian puppies running into traffic, a truck rolling into a lake, and a kitchen fire, it’s only a matter of time before someone does. And indeed, the body of Emily’s ex-husband — her “biggest mistake” — is soon found in the woods close to camp. Emily is a suspect, and enlists Melanie’s help to prove her innocence.
This was such a fun book to read, and I’m excited about checking out more titles in this series. I love animals, and I absolutely adore mysteries starring animal lovers, so when Emily comments that Melanie talks more to her dog than most people talk to their spouses, I was immediately hooked. I also love how the Dalmatians featured in the mystery — their arrival at Emily’s doorstep a few months ago accompanied her ex-husband’s re-entry into her life, and while the central mystery didn’t revolve around them, they turned out to be a valuable clue.
I also absolutely adore Melanie’s Aunt Peg. She’s hilarious! She gets involved in this story purportedly to help Emily with her money problems, but really, she’s much more interested in Emily’s Dalmatians, which I can totally relate to. There’s also a fun subplot about Melanie’s older son Davey showing one of Aunt Peg’s dogs at competition, where we get a bit of an inside glimpse into the world of dog competitions. I imagine the other books in the series take us even deeper into that world, which makes me even more excited to dive in.
The mystery itself was interesting. Berenson did a good job in setting up a handful of side characters who may have been involved in the murder, and while I guessed the murderer before Melanie did, I admit the book kept me guessing almost all the way through. The ending of the mystery made me a bit sad, because I’d grown to like one of the characters who I think won’t appear in future books.
Overall, this is a fun book, and fantastic introduction to the series!
Thank you to Kensington Books for an e-galley in exchange for an honest review.