Under the Dog Star by Sandra Parshall

Under the Dog StarReviewed by Patricia Reid

Family pets are disappearing in Mason County and Veterinarian Rachel Goddard is stumped as to why the dogs are missing and attempting to devise some method to locate the dogs. Rachel has moved in with Tom Bridger, Mason County Sheriff’s Deputy. Rachel and Tom are rapidly adapting to the new living arrangement. Tom worries that Rachel is spending too much time worrying about the missing dogs. Notices have been posted every place and he is sure the mystery will be solved before long.

Tom has another dog-related problem to occupy his mind. There is a pack of feral dogs running around killing livestock. Rachel is determined to help Tom and the local animal authorities capture the dogs and be able to get the dogs to a point where they would once again be the faithful dog of a family in need of a pet. The feral pack is believed to have been brought about by the fact that people who have lost their jobs and their homes have taken to dumping their pets in Mason County in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. The pack had been formed by the group of dogs just struggling for survival.

Suddenly the case of the lost pets and the feral dogs take a back seat to a gruesome murder. Dr. Gordon Hall, head of Tri-County General Hospital is found dead on his property. When Tom arrives on the scene, he finds Dr. Hall’s body along the edge of the woods near his house. Dr. Hall’s throat had been ripped open by a savage animal.

Dr. Hall’s wife Vicky is in very bad health. Vicky is in advanced kidney failure. The Hall’s have one natural son, Ethan, and three adopted children. As the investigation proceeds, it appears that Dr. Hall was not a very popular person in the community and the Hall family was far from a close-knit family.

As Tom proceeds with the murder investigation as well as trying to capture the feral dog pack, Rachel is determined to save the lives of the pack of dogs. The investigation brings out hints of a dog-fighting ring in the community that further complicates the situation.

Rachel’s feeling that all is not well with the younger members of the Hall family makes her determined to get to the bottom of the problem with the children as well as the on going problem with the feral dogs, the missing pets and a killer dog.

Dog lovers will shudder at some of the details of the search for the feral dogs and the attempts to find and shut down the dog-fighting group but the author has done a great job of handling touchy subjects. This is a great addition to the Rachel Goddard series.

Disclosure in Accordance with FTC Guidelines 16 CFR Part 255

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