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Evil Breeding: A dog lover's mystery [Hardcover]

Susan Conant
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

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Book Description

March 16 1999 Dog Lover's Mysteries
When dog writer Holly Winter receives her first book contract, her research leads to some surprising--and deadly--discoveries.

Holly Winter has a contract to write the text for a book of photographs commemorating the legendary Morris and Essex Dog Shows, canine extravaganzas produced by the fabulously wealthy and famously dog-obsessed Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge in the years leading up to World War II. Needless to say, Holly is delighted with the assignment, and immediately sets out to interview one of the few remaining people who actually attended one of the shows--B. Robert Motherway, a Princeton classmate of the Dodges' late son.

It only takes one visit for Holly to realize that there is something strange going on in the Motherway household: a wife dying painfully in an upstairs bedroom, a daughter-in-law acting as a maid, a sullen son playing the role of kennel man, and--most distressing of all--a German shepherd that growls menacingly.

Soon Holly begins to receive mysterious anonymous packages in the mail: a leaflet describing a popular dog medication, cryptic letters written in German, a couple of old photographs. Who could be sending them, and what do they mean? When Motherway's disagreeable son is found garroted in Mount Auburn Cemetery, the circumstances convince Holly that she must find the answers before she herself becomes the next victim.

Evil Breeding presents an intriguingly complex puzzle and provides a wealth of fascinating information about a larger-than-life, legendary dog fancier.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Few readers, other than Conant's most devoted fans, will yap happily at her latest Dog Lover's mystery (after The Barker Street Regulars). Canine-crusading sleuth Holly Winter has signed a contract for a book of photographs about the famous Morris and Essex Dog Shows. In researching the events, she encounters an elderly man, B. Robert Motherway, who attended the shows as a youth. Interviewing him, Holly is introduced to his disquieting household: a son and daughter-in-law who are treated like servants, an unseen and deathly ill wife and a haughty grandson. When seemingly natural death and then outright murder visit Motherway family members, Holly pokes her nose in to scent out the truth. With the help of some anonymous letters and her shrewd friend Althea, Holly pieces together the dangerous secrets behind the Motherways' facade of patrician privilege. Canine lore and Conant's proselytizing against evil dog-breeding practices tend to swamp the meager but melodramatic plot, and her villains are so hazily sketched that readers might wonder how they engender any fear. The Barker Street Regulars was a much more accomplished story than this; hopefully Conant's next will be, too. Agent, Deborah Schneider.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Holly Winter, a Boston dog trainer, writer, and sleuth, has a contract to write a book about Rockefeller heiress Geraldine R. Dodge and her pre^-World War II Morris and Essex dog shows. In researching the book, Holly is drawn into a murder, a case of domestic abuse, and evidence of a Nazi spy ring. This twelfth Holly Winter mystery is filled with facts about dog breeding as well as training how-tos. Conant continues to develop her human and canine characters and to reveal the wonderful museums, parks and cemeteries of Boston. Unfortunately, this work is not as strong as The Barker Street Irregulars ; Conant has trouble weaving together the disparate story lines. Recommend it to devoted fans of Conant and other dog mysteries, but Lanier's Ten Little Bloodhounds (see review, p.1481) is a better example of the canine crime subgenre. John Rowen

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A dog book for non-doggy readers . . . Nov. 23 2000
Format:Hardcover
Sometimes, when a mystery or other novel contains an animal(s) as co-sleuth or even as companion, the author gets so carried away with how wonderful and splendid and grand the animal is, he or she tends to go overboard into the cutesy area. I admit that on occasion, I have not finished reading such books, because even though I generally do like animals, I prefer them to stay as an animal, and not assume human characteristics. Of course, should one such ever 'talk' to me (and make sense) I might change my mind.
This book however, carefully walks that tight-rope and never goes too far astray from what is a really cracker-jack plot. Recent history can be as fascinating as the farther away variety, as this book readily illustrates. Eugenics, whether applied to humans or animals, can be a fascinating topic of discussion; whether it should be practiced or not is another matter entirely.
Holly Winter, a writer and sometime dog-trainer, loves Alaskan Malamute Dogs. Of that there can be no question. When she lands an assignment to write the text for a photo book of a famous dog-lover, she has no idea where the tale will lead her. All the clues are nicely laid out, and the sprinkling of facts in with the fiction combine to educate as well as entertain the discerning reader. For instance, I have no idea if Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge ever really did exist, but I know that Isabella Stewart Gardner did--and left her home and immense fortune to founding the museum she named Fernway Court, and which was subsequently spectacularly robbed in 1990.
If this is a new trend--combining recent history with current day people and happenings--albeit in a rather historic setting (in this case Cambridge Massachusetts) then I'm all for it. I found this to be engaging and informative novel, and recommend it to readers of mystery novels--whether animal lovers or no.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A good read for amateur detetcive and dog lovers March 22 1999
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
During the decades between the World Wars, the earth was a place of extremes. Millions lived in poverty while a few individuals possessed great wealth. The Morris and Essex dog shows exemplified a level of indulgence not seen since their demise. The prime patron and hostess to the shows was multi-millionaire Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge. She would fly in European dogs, trainers, and owners, setting up small cities on her vast estates to house the canines and their guests.

Modern day dog lover Holly Winters, owner of two champion Alaskan Malamutes (Rowdy and Kiwi), is enamoured with the historical persona of Geraldine. She is thrilled to be commissioned to write a book on the Morris and Essex dog shows. Holly interviews B. Robert Motherwood, a classmate of Geraldine's deceased son, who attended the shows. Holly learns more than she ever needed to know. She soon finds herself investigating murder inside of the Motherwood home.

Anyone who has read the Barker Street Regulars will be elated over the fact that some of the characters appears in EVIL BREEDING. Canine lovers will also adore this novel because of the obsessive behavior of the heroine when it comes to pampering her dogs. The gothic-like story line centers on the ugly secrets of a prominent family who will kill to keep skeletons inside the closet. Thus Susan Conant ahs written a cross appeal tale that fans of gothic, amateur detectives, and pet lovers will cherish.

Harriet Klausner
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5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful writer gets even better March 22 1999
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Susan Conant has once again provided her fans with a wonderful book and has written a wonderful book that ought to gain her some new fans. Her characterizations of the humans are vivid and convey the kind of understanding of human nature most of us think but rarely give voice to (e.g., upon meeting the kennel keeper, Holly describes his expression as indicating that he'd never found much about people to like and that she shouldn't bother to try to change his beliefs). Ms. Conant's characterizations of the animals and the relationships between people and animals (what hooked me in the first place) continue to delight and strike familiar chords. The plot moves well and continues to show the greater complexity of her more recent books, although the title probably pretty well gives away the ending, especially if the reader has much knowledge of eugenics. My only complaint (and this reflects my pro-dog bias) is that I'd like more on Rowdy and Kimi (and Tracker, too). Ever since Holly took the bet from Rita about writing about humans rather than dogs, Ms. Conant seems to have gone in that direction, too. Altogether - Love it and can't wait 'til the next one. Isn't it about time for Buck to resume showing his Golden puppy, have a competitor (who has been a competitor to the family for a long time and maybe was close at one time to Holly's mom) get murdered and Buck be accused? Perhaps Rowdy should have his services sold only to have a battle erupt with the dam's owner over a possible genetic flaw in the puppies due to Rowdy (not that Holly would knowingly breed if there were such a flaw). The puppies are puppy-napped, the dam's owner winds up dead and Holly winds up accused.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Hack, hack!!! Sept. 7 1999
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
This series is getting worse and worse! Holly is becoming so obsessive and one-dimensional... In Barker Street Regulars, she was absolutely so obsessed with Sherlock Holmes that, even though she professed to know little about him, she was spitting off quotes here, there, and everywhere. In this book, she rants and raves constantly about Geraldine Dodge this, Geraldine Dodge that. Conant needs to clean up Holly's character and make her a little more realistic and more... I don't even know how to say it. Plausible? The melodramatic spittle and long passages of babbling on and on are horrible. I couldn't even finish this book, and I have a Malamute and love mysteries!! Let's get this show on the road!!!! If you want to read a really good dog mystery, I suggest Carol Lea Benjamin's or Laurien Berenson's books, they're fascinating and readable.
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Most recent customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Evil Breeding
Never have I disliked a main character as much as the woman in this book. The character was so self-centered, rude, arrogant and obsesssive about controlling her dogs that it... Read more
Published on Aug. 20 2001
1.0 out of 5 stars For Alaskan Malamute Lovers Only
This is the only one of the series that I've read, and now I doubt I'll bother with the others. Conant has hung a bunch of red-herring plot twists and turns on a simplistic... Read more
Published on March 3 2001 by Annag Chandler
5.0 out of 5 stars A very enjoyable read
Once again Susan Conant has written a book that kept me reading until I finished it. As other reader reviewers have said, I also would have liked to have seen more of Rowdy and... Read more
Published on May 11 2000
1.0 out of 5 stars Dismayed enough to write
I loved Ms. Conant's early books in the series but lately and in particular, this book, is unbelievably bad. Read more
Published on Feb. 20 2000
2.0 out of 5 stars Not pick of the litter
Susan Conant's books are generally enjoyable, but something went wrong here. Is Holly taking herself way too seriously? Read more
Published on Feb. 19 2000
5.0 out of 5 stars Susan Conant scores another winner!
Another in the series of books about amateur sleuth Holly Winter and her dogs Kimi and Rowdy, Susan Conant has once again delivered an intriguing story which provides fascinating... Read more
Published on May 5 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars Engrossing!
The latest entry into Susan Conant's series of Dog Lover's Mysteries is an engrossing novel that sweeps the reader back in time to learn about the dog world during World War II,... Read more
Published on April 26 1999
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but not wonderful
I greatly enjoy this series and understand that the 12th book in a series must break new ground but perhaps this ground was not a fertile as it should have been. Read more
Published on April 16 1999
2.0 out of 5 stars A Dog Lover's Mystery? Not really.
Love the series, but this entry is below par. I miss the usual characters, especially the dogs, which were in this book seemingly only as a token appearance to keep the "Dog... Read more
Published on April 12 1999 by PenneyL
4.0 out of 5 stars Please, Holly, no more horror stories about dogs!
One of the reasons I often avoid stoies about animals is bacause they die, or are tortured. If I want that kind of horror, there is plenty of it in the real world. Read more
Published on March 29 1999
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