St. Martin's, March 2003, 24.95, 320 pp.
In 1895 Toronto gambling on which dog could kill the most rats in a set of time is an illegal, but widespread practice. Harry Murdock bets his entire summer earnings on his dog Havoc winning a contest, but at the last moment he was distracted and Mr. Delaney's canine is victorious.
A drunken Harry accuses Delaney of cheating. However, when someone kills Delaney, the police charge Murdock with the crime. He's found guilty and is sentenced to hang. The warden contacts Murdoch's son William, an acting-detective. When Harry begs his son to clear his name, Will is dismayed because he doesn't want to help the man who beat him up so many times, but accedes to his request. At first it looks like nobody other than Harry could have killed the victim but Will's investigation rattles many of the betting community whose alibis aren't as airtight as they want every one to believe.
LET LOOSE THE DOGS is a very atmospheric story starring a likable protagonist who readers will admire. The audience empathizes with Will as they understand the hero's ambivalence about investigating his father's case since he fled his childhood home when he was thirteen to escape his father's fist. The fact that he gives it an honest effort makes him better than many people who hold grudges beyond the grave. The mystery is well done with a plethora of suspects who could have committed the crime but Will only has a few days to discover if one of them is the killer before his father hangs.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner