Linda O. Johnston
Berkley, Mar 1 2011, $7.99
Near Los Angeles, HotRescues is a no-kill shelter for dogs and other animals founded by billoinaire Dante DeFrancisco, owner of a series of pet stores that which carries items manufactured and carried in his HotPets stores. He is the biggest contributor to HotRescues and though he is a billionaire he has a heart of gold. As part of a legal settlement Efram Kiley works at HotRescues, learning how to treat and care for animals for which he was paid a large sum of money in a legal settlement with Dante.
HotRescues director Lauren Vancouver is horrified to see Efron at a dirty and diseased puppy mill where he pushes beagle puppies into a drain pipe. When he turns up at HotRescues, Lauren fires him. Soon afterward, she sees his body in HotRescues with a knife in his chest. She becomes the number one suspect. When she is injured twice in potentially deadly incidents, the cops assume she set them up to make her look a victim, innocent of murder. Knowing the police are going to arrest her, she tries to ferret out the real killer.
Dante’s lover Kendra Ballantine makes a cameo appearance that connects this new series to the Pet Sitter amateur sleuth novels; this adds a sense of continuity though on a different path. Linda O. Johnson fans will compare the two leading ladies; as Laura is more mature and independent than Kendra is but both are feisty, obstinate and passionate about animals. The mystery is cleverly devised even with the cops acting more Keystone than professional as in their mind the case solved. Pet Sitter readers will enjoy this similar yet different canine thriller.