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Bloodlines

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BLOODLINES Gerald Hammond (St. Martin’s, $20.95) It’s a rare pleasure to return to Gerald Hammond’s Scotland, where avid hunters set their sights on pheasants flying out of golden bracken, the central heating tends to go wonky, and business is conducted by means of ”flannel, blarney and persuasion.” In the latest John Cunningham mystery, the kennel owner — who views himself, rather winsomely, as a marriage broker between man and dog — is being, well, hounded by corrupt local businessman Ben Garnet. The bizarre series of events that follows underscores the observation of John’s wife: ”And there’s nobody can get as fanatical as some of the dog-people. Nobody!” Although the dialect can get a bit thick at times, and the plot is only just serviceable, Hammond’s lyrical prose saves this surprisingly affecting adventure. B+

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