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    Review of JINGLE BELL BARK by Laurien Berenson (see her website)


    Kensington, September 2004

    Melanie Travis has enough to do over the holiday season without worrying about murder. She has a son to shop for, an expecting sister-in-law, a poodle to prepare for all-important showings, a girlfriend to straighten out on buying a respectable dog, and a relationship to get right. When the favorite schoolbus driver is found dead, all Melanie intends to do is make sure his dogs get a proper home. But getting the dogs the right home gets complicated when the driver's daughters roll into town--intent on putting the dogs up for auction (because one of their parents' was a champion, the daughters assumes that the dogs must be highly valuable). The only way Melanie's Aunt Peg figures to get rid of the daughters is to solve the mystery herself. Of course, Aunt Peg's way of solving mysteries turns out to involve a lot of sending Melanie out to do the work.

    Author Laurien Berenson (see more reviews of novels by Berenson) does an excellent job combining an interesting character with humor and mystery. Melanie, with her relationship issues, and her obsession with her standard poodles draws the reader in largely because she is a typical suburban mom--caught between a job, her child, and a hobby that demands so much of her time. In Berenson books, the mystery plays second fiddle--it isn't that it isn't being worked on, it's just that the mystery has to come after Melanie takes care of her son and her poodles.

    In JINGLE BELL BARK, Berenson makes the combination click. I've enjoyed a number of other novels in this series, but BARK seems to put togther the combination of character, humor, and strong writing even better than the earlier novels. Berenson's writing hooks the reader early and keeps us involved with the story.

    I have no hesitation in recommending JINGLE BELL BARK to anyone looking for a light mystery.

    Four Stars

    Reviewed 3/12/05

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    What do you think? Too generous? Too stingy? Or did I miss the entire point? Send your comments to Give me the okay to use your name and I'll publish all the comments that fit (and don't use unprintable language).

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