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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
1.0 out of 5 stars For Alaskan Malamute Lovers Only March 3 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
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 semi-mystery that in the end is nothing more than a guilty-family-secret story. Nazis, eugenics, dog shows in the thirties, a Rockefeller heiress, the Isabelle Stewart Gardner museum -- all turn out to be irrelevant to the story line....
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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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1.0 out of 5 stars Evil Breeding Aug. 20 2001
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
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 interfered with the marginal plot.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A very enjoyable read May 11 2000
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
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 Kimi in it, but I also have seen the book reviewers say that they feel there is too much dog stuff in her books. I hope the author will ignore these reviewers. I personally feel that those touches - the dogs, the shows, etc are what makes her books so good, and hope to see more of it in the future. I love all the information I get from her books, always different, always fresh.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Dismayed enough to write Feb. 20 2000
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
I loved Ms. Conant's early books in the series but lately and in particular, this book, is unbelievably bad. I could not follow the story line, the dog training or any dog topics were almost non-existent, and what type of character Holly is becoming is getting stranger and stranger. The publishers really need to give this author a good editor. This book is very bad and it is a shame that her previous success and her well-known name allows the customer to think they're getting a good read. Disgraceful.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Not pick of the litter Feb. 19 2000
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Susan Conant's books are generally enjoyable, but something went wrong here. Is Holly taking herself way too seriously? Was the whole Geraldine Dodge theme a dull way to keep the plot connected? Why have Holly own a cat and continue to harp about how much she dislikes the ugly cat? (I don't even LIKE cats and this bugged me) This book should have been culled by the editors.
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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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5.0 out of 5 stars Susan Conant scores another winner! May 6 1999
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
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 details about the world of dog fancy while also providing an exciting mystery with roots in not too distant history.
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