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'Twas the Bite Before Christmas    by Lee Charles Kelley order for
'Twas the Bite Before Christmas
by Lee Charles Kelley
Order:  USA  Can
Avon, 2005 (2005)
* *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Ex-cop Jack Fields is trying to live a splendid life with his dog kennels and his ladylove Jamie Cutter, who is the Medical Examiner of a small town in Maine - don't you love her name?

Unfortunately for them, when Jamie is called to the scene of a murder, Jack agrees to go with her. He is acting as an unpaid consultant to the police department. One thing leads to another and Jack falls head first into a murder investigation, which also involves the Russian mob, a bungling police chief, the deceased's employers who seem not to be what they claim to be, their disappearing son, the arrest of Jack's foster child, a magician who has pulled a vanishing act, and a young child who is dying for the lack of a kidney donor. Tangled? You bet.

Lee Charles Kelley manages to tie all the dangling threads into a neat knot. Although the ending is a trifle contrived, 'Twas the Bite Before Christmas is an energetic tale of intrigue, deceit and danger. Added to a good read is some great advice about dog training that makes a lot of sense to me. The canines in this tale appear to be lovable critters when happy. Beware their bite, though.

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