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by Susan Conant
Berkley, November 2007
256 pages
ISBN: 0425217442

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Holly Winter is an Alaskan Husky trainer and dog lover. She lives in a large house, sharing it with others, but she is now alone since everyone else seems to be busy or on a vacation including her husband Steve.

After throwing out a strange man whom her housemate let into her apartment he was looking for another Holly Winter of which there are a few in the neighborhood Holly gets a call that a Malamute has gone missing. Holly is part of a group of people who rescue Alaskan Huskies in trouble. She's directed to go to a house near her to find out the details about the dog.

When she gets there, the woman she's supposed to talk to turns out to be Mellie, a special needs adult. The poor woman is too afraid give Holly much help. So Holly goes out to search through the neighborhood, looking for the dog and asking people if they have seen it.

As she happens to walk by the house next to Mellie's, she looks into a sliding glass door and sees a woman on the floor surrounded by blood. She calls in the police.

Later on Holly learns that the dead woman was also going by the name Holly Winter, and she was in possession of papers with the name of other Holly Winters on it. The police think she was doing an identity theft scam of some sort.

Holly knows that there is yet another Holly Winter in the neighborhood and thinks she needs to be warned too, but that Holly turns out to be a dog-hating, sour-minded college academic and Holly immediately doesn't like her.

Even with finding a dead body with her own name, Holly still has the lost Malamute on her mind and she continues on with the search, which soon becomes even more confusing. But this gives Holly more time to regale the readers with tons of information about dogs, Malamutes, Alaskan Huskies and dog toys.

And I do mean tons of information and accolades on the topic of canines and people who love them. By the end of the book, more time had been spent discussing dogs than on the mystery or murder. I felt that my time was wasted.

On top of that, for some reason the writer, Susan Conant, had her main character include all of the asides she was thinking into the book. For example, when Holly sees a strange, big, good-looking man in her home and he introduces himself as Adam, all she can think of is the palindrome "madam I'm Adam." In fact this thought takes up a few paragraphs until this reader was well bored by it.

And when the exciting climax is supposed to be happening, even as a weapon is menacing her life, all Holly can think about was when a bad guy told her to keep to her own dirty business. Holly goes on for a page thinking that she only writes about something that can be thought as dirty when she discusses dog stools. Her inner dialogue continues on as she insists that dog stool, when it has to do with the health of an animal, can't be thought as dirty, and so you couldn't really call her business dirty. This goes on and on.

These constant inner thoughts throughout the book separates the readers from what's going on in the story and totally undercuts all tension within the scene. It ruined the book for me.

This is the first Holly Winter book that I've read that I didn't like. It meandered around and didn't spend much time on the mysteries in the story. Maybe this book didn't capture my attention because I am not a dog owner, but even so, I wanted a good mystery and didn't get it here. ALL SHOTS misses the mark when it comes to being a good mystery. Even dog lovers would spend their time better walking their dogs instead of reading it.

Reviewed by A. L. Katz, December 2007

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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