Scotland’s ex—Army officer John Cunningham (Doghouse, 1992, etc.) and his wife Beth breed gundogs at Three Oaks Kennels, with help from managers Henry and Isobel Kitts, and kennel maids Hannah and Daffy. Newborn spaniel Mimulus (Mim for short) has a champion in her immediate background, but it’s soon apparent that she’s gun-shy—a rarely curable condition—and could never successfully compete in hunting trials. Nonetheless, Quentin Cove, owner of Androssie, a neighboring estate, buys Mim from the Cunninghams and shows her in competition with some success—a puzzlement to her breeder. Cove’s farm manager, Dougal Webb, is also confounding the experts in his role as Hannah’s suitor, since he drives an expensive car, wears a Rolex, and appears to be living beyond his means. These habits turn out to be extremely interesting to the police when Webb disappears and some time later a half-burnt corpse is found on a local hillside. When the body is finally identified as Webb, everyone at Three Oaks is questioned intensely and repeatedly by Inspector Ewell and his pretty sergeant, but it takes an outsider to point out the evidence that nails the culprit. Some interesting characters and an intriguing puzzle are all but buried in masses of dog and bird-hunting lore. Slow, repetitive going.