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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 petgrooming advice. But there are human beings here and some very welcome human drama as our author slips her leash.

Pub Date: April 9th, 1997
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Doubleday