What if man’s best friend could have more lives than a cat? In this fifth adventure for p.i. Rachel Alexander (Lady Vanishes, 1999, etc.) and her pit-bull companion Dashiell, Sophie Gordon, a teacher of the deaf, learns the dire consequences of the promise that her dog Blanche can be cloned. Sophie is subject to epileptic seizures, and Blanche is a service dog, alert to Sophie’s condition and able to fetch her medicine if necessary. Some time ago Sophie was approached by Lorna West, from an organization called Side by Side, which is eager to clone Blanche. Sophie agreed, and in due time got Blanche back along with Bianca, one of her three clones. Unfortunately, Bianca lacks Blanche’s sensitivity to Sophie’s seizures. Though she’s anxious to inform Side by Side of this shortcoming, Sophie can’t find them, so she hires Rachel to track them down. No sooner does she take the job, though, than Rachel finds Sophie dead in her apartment, Blanche and Bianca at her side. What first appears to be the result of a seizure proves to be caused by poisoned medication. Rachel tries to find a family member or friend of Sophie’s to care for her dogs, with no success. She has no luck in finding Side by Side, either—until they find her, with near-fatal results.
Reasonably cohesive early plotting lapses into a confusion of out-of-nowhere characters, a slew of silly, reckless moves on Rachel’s part, and a flat, unconvincing finish, making this outing a safe bet only for the most hopeful, and uncritical, dog lovers.