By Virginia Lanier

Harper Paperbacks, August, 1998
ISBN: 0-06-1050350

Setting: Southeast Georgia

Reviewed by Cherie Jung (8/97)

A local mystery bookstore owner recommended this series to me, years ago, and I'm just now getting around to reading the books. As soon as I finished reading THE HOUSE ON BLOODHOUND LANE, I called to order the first book in the series and started reading this, the third book in the series.

The protagonist is Jo Beth Sidden, a self-described "feminist and Georgia peach." She runs a bloodhound tracking business and trains bloodhounds for search-and-rescue work and drug-sniffing police work. Bobby Lee is her "one-year-old, blind-from-birth" bloodhound. Bubba is her violent ex-husband who is out on parole, again, and making her life uneasy, if not scary as he continues to stalk her.

Gilly is the woman who arrives with a bizarre message from her dead mother. The dead woman claims to have been murdered by her employer, a superior court judge, because she saw something in the Okefenokee Swamp that she wasn't supposed to see. Jo Beth barely remembers the dead woman, whom she met years ago. Now Gilly wants Jo Beth to bring the accused killer to justice as her dead mother promised she would in the message.

This writer has been compared to Sue Grafton and Sara Paretsky. In a way, I suppose comparisons can be made, at least to the early works of Grafton and Paretsky . The protagonist is fiesty and independent yet vulernable. But don't avoid this series if you happen to not be a fan of other more famous female series writers. You will be missing an enjoyable new character if you do.

I especially like the way the author interweaves other activities with the main "case." In this instance, in addition to being on guard for an assault by her ex-husband, the local bank has its first robbery, and Jo Beth is involved in a search-and-rescue mission. A child is lost in the steaming, aligator-infested Okefenokee swamp.

I also enjoy the wonderfully drawn characters who are Jo Beth's employees. And I love the dogs! (Although you don't have to be a "dog person" to enjoy this series.)

Give it a try. I think you'll find yourself sweating along with the characters in this page-turner.


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