Books by Susan Conant

Susan Conant is a three-time recipient of the Maxwell Award for Fiction Writing given by the Dog Writers' Association of America. She lives with her husband, two cats, and two Alaskan malamutes.

BRUTE STRENGTH by Susan Conant
Released: Sept. 1, 2011

"The thin mystery takes second place to loads of information about dogs certain to appeal to those who love them."
Malamutes rule—at least in the life of one amateur sleuth. Read full book review >
FED UP by Jessica Conant-Park
Released: Feb. 3, 2009

"A pleasant cozy so packed with food tips and appended recipes that it could cause a food frenzy."
A graduate student based in Boston unmasks a killer. Read full book review >
TURN UP THE HEAT by Jessica Conant-Park
Released: March 4, 2008

"Chloe's third outing (Simmer Down, 2007, etc.), spiced with mystery, romance and recipes, is an insider's look at life in a restaurant kitchen."
Something's fishy at Simmer, that trendy new Boston restaurant, and it's up to a graduate student in social work to sniff out the truth. Read full book review >
ALL SHOTS by Susan Conant
Released: Nov. 6, 2007

"Second-drawer Conant is still a dog-lover's delight that reveals everything you want to know about Alaskan Malamutes."
Identity theft, drug dealing and murder—what's going on in Cambridge, Mass.? Read full book review >
GAITS OF HEAVEN by Susan Conant
Released: Oct. 3, 2006

"Conant's amusing and informative tale of noble dogs and ignoble humans has something for both dog devotees and mystery-lovers."
Trainer/writer Holly Winter learns yet more reasons why dogs make better friends than people. Read full book review >
BRIDE & GROOM by Susan Conant
Released: Feb. 3, 2004

"The plot's not as well-behaved as the dogs, but there's not a cat-writer around with Conant's wit and breezy sophistication."
All those in favor of Holly and Steve's wedding wag your tails and woof. Read full book review >
THE DOGFATHER by Susan Conant
Released: Feb. 4, 2003

"Amiability and wit enough to entertain even dog dilettantes. For canophiles, a must."
The first thing to know about freelance canine reporter/sleuth Holly Winter (The Wicked Flea, 2002, etc.) is that she sees no happenstance in dog being "god" spelled backwards. Because Holly worships man's best friend—not only her matchless pair of Alaskan malamutes, but virtually every pooch, right or wrong, that ever barked up a tree—she allows herself to begin a relationship she never could have predicted. That Enzio Guarini, Massachusetts's leading crime boss, has spent decades filling body bags is certainly true and, she acknowledges, certainly reprehensible, but clearly the man has an upside: He's a fellow fanatic. Redeemed by Holly's own obsession, Guarini, in addition, has an irresistible four-month-old elkhound brimming with adorable puppy energy. In fact, the boss has been a devoted reader of Holly on puppy training and is convinced she's nonpareil. Willy-nilly, then, she becomes dog-trainer to the mob and an object of interest to the FBI, and two grim-looking feebies materialize on her doorstep with covert listening devices and veiled threats. Holly, refusing to plant the devices and determined to ignore the threats, is soon the bone of contention between snarling, teeth-baring enemies. A couple of corpses complicate matters scarily, a precious malamute is almost stolen, Holly's love life takes a serious hit, and she herself has a near-death experience, but, as the fans she's garnered over 15 novels can testify, Holly hangs in doggedly. Read full book review >
THE WICKED FLEA by Susan Conant
Released: March 5, 2002

"Conant has a likable style, often with wry overtones, that might make canophobes wish she'd tackle a different venue occasionally. Meantime, though, sheer bliss awaits the dedicated dog-lover."
Yet another in the stories featuring Cambridge-dweller and dog journalist Holly Winter, "the only landlord in Cambridge . . . who won't rent to you unless you have at least one pet," and her ribbon-winning Alaskan Malamutes Rowdy and Kimi. Ditched by her veterinarian lover Steve Delaney when he married glamorous disbarred lawyer Anita Fairley, a depressed Holly is alternating between sessions with improbably named psychiatrist Vee Foote and equally therapeutic bouts of exercising her dogs in Clear Creek Park in the company of her elderly longtime friend Ceci Love and her aging Newfoundland, Quest. Unfortunately, there are problems at the park, too—the rovings and revelations of a trench-coated male exhibitionist and the pesky antics of Zsa-Zsa, a golden retriever owned by irrepressible breeder Sylvia Metzner. Sylvia's family—her ne'er-do-well son Eric, her daughter Pia, and Pia's husband, Wilson Goodenough—are no help bringing either Zsa-Zsa or her owner to heel, but even they seem shocked when Sylvia's body is discovered in the park, shot dead. Needless to say, it's Holly who, in between showing her dogs, winning medals, and writing her column, finally homes in on Sylvia's murderer en route to a happy ending of her own. Read full book review >
Released: April 14, 2000

" Readers will have to figure out whether the killer is one of the infatuated dog owners or the dog-kicking suspect Holly dubs an 'insufferable bitch.'"
When she comes to after a tumble from the side of Dorr Mountain, in Maine's Acadia National Park, Holly Winter can't remember how she got there, or what she does for a living, or where she lives, or what her name is, but she's not too addled to note the careful breeding and grooming of Rowdy and Kimi, the two Alaskan Malamutes she doesn't yet recognize as hers. It's the perfect setup for Conant's latest canine-smitten mystery—and a promise of more than unusual human-centered tension, as Holly struggles to figure out not only who pushed professional crank Norman Axelrod to his death from a nearby path (and presumably tried less successfully to finish off Holly as well), but what had brought her to the park in the first place. Was she investigating financial skullduggery among her hostess Gabrielle Beamon's friends in the Pine Tree Foundation for Conservation Philanthropy? Why was she collecting clippings about arsenic? And what did her doodle equating a tree and a diamond-shaped kite have to do with anything? With no one to trust (including her blithely obtuse father) except Kimi and Rowdy, Holly confides in them alone, setting her dog-mad author (Evil Breeding, 1999, etc.) her greatest challenge to date. But as Conant, who can't maintain the discipline to stay inside Holly's amnesiac viewpoint, starts cutting away to better-informed characters, the tension begins to leak out of Holly's 13th case. Read full book review >
EVIL BREEDING by Susan Conant
Released: March 16, 1999

In plunging author/dog-breeder Holly Winter (The Barker Street Regulars, 1998, etc.) into the star-crossed household of R. Robert Motherway as part of her research into the fabled Morris and Essex Dog Shows—mounted through the 1930s by Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge, mother of Motherway's old friend—Conant may have invented a new genre: the canine historical mystery. Read full book review >
Released: March 1, 1998

The Barker Street Regulars ($21.95; Mar. 1; 272 pp.; 0-385-48668-5): That's right: Conant's trademark Malamutes (Stud Rites, 1996, etc.) meet Sherlock Holmes, or the next thing to him, when Rowdy works as a therapy dog for a family so taken with the great man's adventures that they've managed to spawn both a murder and an animal-psychic fraud. Read full book review >
Released: April 9, 1997

Conant, who has delighted dog-lovers in the first nine volumes of this specialty series perhaps to the point of alienating everyone else, displays in entry ten an invigorating diversification of interest. Dog-columnist Holly Winter is dared by a therapist friend to write something about—quelle horreur!- people. Her research takes her all around Harvard Yard as she looks into the history of Massachusetts settler Hannah Duston, a tribal captive who proved handier with a hatchet than Lizzie Borden. Simultaneously, Holly explores the ten-year-old murder of a local publisher—benign Jack Winter Andrews of Damned Yankee Press—and observes her two projects becoming as entangled as malamutes Rowdy and Kimi during a food fight. Stud Rites (1996) was set claustrophobically within a dog show. This time, Conant gives us a cool, merry, and informative look at academic Cambridge and a scene of sexual misunderstanding that goes from low comedy to something like tragedy. Conant still tends to overexplain jokes and her detective is still irritatingly full of pet-grooming advice. But there are human beings here and some very welcome human drama as our author slips her leash. Read full book review >
STUD RITES by Susan Conant
Released: June 1, 1996

The ninth in a series (Black Ribbon, 1995, etc.) directed toward passionate dog fanciers—and if the audience seems a narrow one, meditate on the number nine. Detective/journalist Holly Winter covers the Alaskan Malamute National Specialty Show at a Hawaiian- theme hotel in Danville, Conn. She hangs out with her two canine contenders, Rowdy and Kimi; her cousin Leah, a handler; her boyfriend, a vet; her ex-boyfriend, a traveler in dog sex aids; oodles of her girlfriends, all fighting over dogs—and, as it turns out, a murderer. An elderly judge is killed, and the prize lamp bearing the fur of an ex-champion seems to have been the weapon. Though Conant is capable of a decent quip (``their noisy, smelly wedding was going to ruin our lovely dog show''), she specializes in ironic metaphors teased through run-on sentences of indecent length. She belabors her jokes, in other words, while revealing a steely-eyed and humorless determination to pack her prose with more dog lore than it can gracefully accommodate. The murderer was not a good dog person and is no loss. But, meanwhile, Conant risks losing mystery readers who might like warm puppies okay but who think happiness requires a wider worldview and a lighter wit. Read full book review >
BLACK RIBBON by Susan Conant
Released: Jan. 9, 1995

If you've read any of Conant's earlier dogolatrous mysteries (Ruffly Speaking, 1994, etc.), you know perfectly well whether this one is your meat; if you haven't, be warned that the author's most fervent acknowledgments are reserved for her two Alaskan malamutes. The tale itself takes dog writer Holly Winter, sprightly and manic as ever, to Maine, where she's to write a story on Waggin' Tail, Maxine McGuire's upscale new camp for show dogs and their owners. Somebody there is salting the cabins with condolence cards for pets that haven't died yet, and the miscreant moves on to more serious pranks: lacing one dog's training dumbbell with a bitter coating, fraying the lead of another, reporting the death of obedience judge Phyllis Abbott (Pomeranians Nigel and Edwina) in that contemptible tabloid Dog Beat. The suspects—much-widowed Ginny Garabedian (chocolate Lab Wiz), her companion Cam White (Sheltie Nicky), newlyweds Joy and Craig (Cairn retriever Lucky), breed handling instructor Eric Grimaldi (Chesapeake Elsa)—are all thoroughly nice folks except for pushy, insulting Eva Spitteler (yellow Lab Bingo), and even canophobes will be straining at their leads waiting (and waiting) for Eva to get killed. But then what would canophobes be doing with this book anyway? Mystery close to zero, character interest ditto, a complete collapse of narrative tension once nasty Eva gets crushed under an overturned agility track—in other words, nothing to get in the way of Conant's latest rapturous paean to Humankind's Best Friend. Read full book review >
Released: April 7, 1994

What's the matter with Morris Lamb's house off Cambridge's Brattle Street? First, gay bookseller/cafÇkeeper Morris himself died after a dinner of ill-chosen plants from his garden, and now Ruffly, the hearing dog assigned to Episcopal priest Stephanie Benson, who's renting the house from Morris' partner and lover Doug Winer, has begun to have inexplicable seizures. Fortunately, Stephanie's son Matthew is seeing the cousin of Dog's Life staffer Holly Winter, who's almost as interested in getting to the bottom of Morris' death as she is in the greater glory of Dog. Holly's canolatrous adventures (Gone to the Dogs, Bloodlines) have been pitched at all dog-lovers, but you really need to love dog shows, or at least show dogs, to appreciate their full bouquet. (Lilian Jackson Braun's Cat Who books don't include the addresses of real-life wholesale suppliers and support groups.) If you think the conflict between criminals and victims is reducible to the difference between dog fanciers and ``atheists'' who ``do not believe in dogs,'' you'd better go fetch this. Read full book review >
BLOODLINES by Susan Conant
Released: Dec. 21, 1992

The real, tragic fact of puppy mills—breeding operations for the sale of pedigreed puppies to (mainly) pet shops, where breeding dogs in cages, in often wretched conditions, bear litter after litter—is the background for Conant's sixth dog-centered mystery (Gone to the Dogs, p. 571), which—in spite of the target subject- -is, again, lively, funny, and (to dog people) absolute Premium. This time out, Holly Winter, owner and adorer of two grand malamutes, sleuths to unravel pedigreed dog bloodlines—and to uncover the all-too-common incursions of greedy puppy-mill owners into the products of the reputable breeder. Oh, yes, there are also two murders, but the victims are (from a dog person's point of view) pond scum, so the reader is wholeheartedly with Holly as she gives her major attention to the problem of rescuing a purloined malamute and other doomed animals. Holly's detective work, superb dog-wise, is a bit casual on the murders, but who cares? Certainly not Conant's readers, who- -with ears up and alert eye—eagerly await her next. Read full book review >
GONE TO THE DOGS by Susan Conant
Released: July 7, 1992

The first hardcover Conant mystery, custom-groomed for dog people, whose devotion to the canine goes beyond that of mere dog lovers—dog people are those ``who can discuss impacted anal sacs [at a party] without gagging on their Brie.'' The sleuth here is Holly Winter, in a mystery plot one shouldn't worry too much about. It concerns the disappearance of Dr. Oscar Patterson, DVM, who had recommended vet Lee Miner to Holly's vet/inamorato Steve Delaney as a partner in his clinic. It was Dr. Miner (a cold dish of Iams) who'd heard a row between Dr. Paterson and an owner whose dog had just died in the small hours. Is Oscar dead? And where is Jackie Miner, Lee's wife? Featured here is a rare breed, the Chinook, related to the malamute, Holly's chosen breed. The mystery itself wobbles here and there, but the Cambridge, Mass., setting is fun (Harvard at Christmas with super-pipes ``with a range of three notes'' and Morris dances), and the dog talk for the hard-core dog crowd is fine. Come. Sit. Stay. Read full book review >