Susan Conant, a three-time recipient of the Maxwell Award for Fiction Writing given by the Dog Writers Association of America, lives in Newton, Massachusetts, with her husband. She is the author of nineteen Dog Lover's Mysteries.
Conant ( Gone to the Dogs ) turns crusader in her energetic sixth dog-lover's mystery. Dog expert Holly Winter, the winsome narrator, can't resist passing along advice to dog lovers, whether on choosing an appropriate breed or on purchasing L. L. Bean Wellingtons (``the world's only genuinely waterproof boots . . . the best two-footed friend a dog walker ever had''). This missionary spirit is quickly kindled when a fellow dog lover tells her that a local pet shop is selling a malamute that appears to have been obtained from a puppy mill. Through Holly, Conant decries the cruel and inhumane treatment dogs receive at such breeding factories and urges readers to boycott retailers that do business with them. To Holly, animal abuse is tantamount to a capital offense, so she wastes no time mourning when the pet-shop owner is murdered, but she investigates the crime for the sake of the affected animals. Mafia bosses, animal rights activists, apparently reputable breeders and still more puppy mills figure in her detection. Suspense is tighter here than in many previous Conant mysteries, and her polemics add a welcome bite. Paws up. (Dec.)