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This Dog for Hire

por Carol Lea Benjamin

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1216173,947 (3.44)2
Winner of the Shamus Award for Best First PI Novel: In the first book of Carol Lea Benjamin's acclaimed mystery series, Greenwich Village PI Rachel Alexander and her loyal pit bull must find a killer and a missing show dog Divorced dog trainer?turned?private-eye Rachel Alexander and her canine assistant Dash?short for Dashiell?are hired by a man named Dennis Keaton to investigate the hit-and-run death of his friend and neighbor Clifford Cole, whose body was found on an isolated Christopher Street pier. The police are treating the gay painter's suspicious death as a hate crime, but Dennis insists Cliff hadn't cruised the waterfront in months. Plus, Magritte, Cliff's champion basenji?a competitor in the upcoming Westminster Dog Show?may have been a witness to the crime and is now missing. The search for answers takes Rachel and Dash from the SoHo art scene to the most famous dog show in America. Now Rachel is in the sights of a killer hunting her across a treacherous urban landscape. There's no one she can trust?especially not of the two-legged variety.… (mais)
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I liked "This Dog For Hire". It kept me entertained from beginning to end. It also kept refusing to be the easy-to-classify book I thought I'd bought.


I was expecting a cosy mystery with a sassy woman PI accompanied by a cute-but-muscular dog that saves the day. It sort of is that, but it mostly isn't.


Rachel Alexander is more spiky than sassy. She's a hard-bitten New Yorker who's too tough to intimidate or to bullshit. She's a thirty-eight-year-old, recently divorced woman who gave up her dog training business when she married and took up the PI business when she divorced, mostly because her family thought it was a terrible idea. Dash, her pitbull who she rescued (stole) as a puppy from punks who wanted to train him to fight, is cute but muscular but he's sidelined for most of the book.


The plot is clever, with a few unexpected but reasonable twists in it. Most of the action is set at the Westminster Kennel Club Show in Maddison Garden and it's clear that this is a world that Carol Lea Benjamin understands very well. Seen through Rachel Alexander's unforgiving and perceptive eyes, the fiercely competitive nature of the show and the idiosyncrasies of its participants are thrown into vivid relief.


The story is a lot darker and more emotionally intense than I'd expect a cozy mystery to be. This isn't a tidy middle-class white-picket-fence kind of tale. We're taken amongst New York's homeless and dying and we're shown the taken-for-granted gay-bashing. A childhood of abuse is a key plot element. It's revealed with skill and told with a compassionate honesty that makes it painful to read.


Once I scrubbed my pre-conceptions and took the book on its own terms, I found myself enjoying being in Rachel Alexander's often abrasive company, partly because the traumas she was dealing with were real and important and not just devices needed to enable neat plot twists.


"This Dog For Hire" came out in 1997 and is the first of nine books in the series, that last being published in 2006. I'm looking forward to reading the next one "The Dog Who Knew Too Much" when it comes out as an audiobook.


I listened to the audiobook version of "This Dog For Hire" which was released in November 2019. It's narrated by Dina Pearlman who is the perfect choice for this series. ( )
  MikeFinnFiction | May 16, 2020 |
This is a fairly good book in what appears to be a great series (I have not read any others in the series). Rachel runs a PI business along with her faithful rescue dog companion Dash. Dash has no special powers, but is a very well trained dog, who can assist and does assist Rachel whenever he can. Dash does uncover some important clues in this mystery and helps Rachel discover who has killed a new artist and owner of a show winning basenji breed dog as well as taken the dog. Although this can be read as a stand-alone book, I found that the author did not provide much back story about many of the characters or events, which made many actions and words as well as events alluded to confusing. In this book, Rachel and Dash solve a very complex and sometimes confusing murder mystery. The book is very well written, though the author does dwell on the intricacies of the Westminster and other dog shows a bit much, though much of this does not really add to the mysterious murder/dog-napping. I found these parts dragged and would have preferred a bit less and more of a summary. Yes, the shows are important events in the plot, but a lot of the intricacies could have been abbreviated or summarized rather than described in much detail. I thoroughly enjoyed the interactions between Dash and Rachel, and how well attuned they were to each other. Of course, since Rachel had been a dog trainer earlier in her life, I figured any reader, knowing this, would expect the fantastic dog training Dash had received. The story moved along easily and well. I did not get a good feel for many of the characters, though they were minor, in many cases, but that, I think, was because I had not encountered them before in other books and, as I said, there was little back story provided. This is a great book for a genuine dog lover, though anyone who enjoys a good mystery that includes a dog “PI” will enjoy it. I received this from Netgalley to read and review. ( )
  KMT01 | May 16, 2015 |
Manhattan P.I. Rachel Alexander and her formidable canine partner, Dash, search for a witness to the murder of a New York artist--the victim's barkless dog. Finding the champion Basenji and solving this case will have Rachel and Dash checking out the Westminster Dog Show and the SoHo art world. Carol Lea Benjamin's debut mystery (she's also written nonfiction books about dog training) won the 1997 Shamus Award for Best First P.I. Novel; if you enjoy it, check out the next book in the series, The Dog Who Knew Too Much. Kirkus Reviews says This Dog for Hire is "highly satisfactory even for readers who prefer two-legged animals."
  suefitz1 | Apr 3, 2013 |
This was interesting and fun - nothing like P.I.s with animal partners! (not a talking dog, though!)

Feels a bit dated - written in 1997, but for some reason, I felt like it was set in the eighties. It was a strange feeling, indeed... ( )
  kayceel | Jul 3, 2009 |
A little grittier than I normally read but still an enjoyable read. Plot is intelligent, characters are believable, and the dog acts like a dog (a very well-trained dog). I will definitely read more of her books. ( )
  tehanu | May 8, 2009 |
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Winner of the Shamus Award for Best First PI Novel: In the first book of Carol Lea Benjamin's acclaimed mystery series, Greenwich Village PI Rachel Alexander and her loyal pit bull must find a killer and a missing show dog Divorced dog trainer?turned?private-eye Rachel Alexander and her canine assistant Dash?short for Dashiell?are hired by a man named Dennis Keaton to investigate the hit-and-run death of his friend and neighbor Clifford Cole, whose body was found on an isolated Christopher Street pier. The police are treating the gay painter's suspicious death as a hate crime, but Dennis insists Cliff hadn't cruised the waterfront in months. Plus, Magritte, Cliff's champion basenji?a competitor in the upcoming Westminster Dog Show?may have been a witness to the crime and is now missing. The search for answers takes Rachel and Dash from the SoHo art scene to the most famous dog show in America. Now Rachel is in the sights of a killer hunting her across a treacherous urban landscape. There's no one she can trust?especially not of the two-legged variety.

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