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Rachel Alexander and Dash Books In Order

Publication Order of Rachel Alexander and Dash Books

This Dog for Hire (1996) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Dog Who Knew Too Much (1997) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
A Hell of a Dog (1998) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Lady Vanishes (1999) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Wrong Dog (2000) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Long Good Boy (2001) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Fall Guy (2004) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Without a Word (2005) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Hard Way (2006) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Rachel Alexander and Dash is a series of novels by Carol Lea Benjamin the former private investigator and acclaimed dog trainer turned Shamus Award-winning author. She makes use of the professional experience from her double career to write the series of novels. The series of novels feature private investigator named Rachel Alexander, who works alongside a pit terrier named Dashielle to solve a range of murder mysteries. “This Dog for Hire” the first novel of the series was winner of the Shamus Award and was the first novel that featured the lead protagonists Dash and Rachel as partners in solving a case. Since then, the two have gone to solve a range of cases in upstate New York and some in the seedier areas of the city. While the aspect of having a dog as one of the leads in a series is not a new concept, Benjamin is among the first authors that treated a dog protagonist as not a semi human anthropomorphic character but rather as a dog. She is not shy in her portrayal of Dash as an animal, and hence the Rachel Alexander and Dash series focus not on canine anecdote but rather find their strength in mystery.

Before she got to write the award-winning Rachel Alexander and Dash series, Benjamin authored several young adult novels. Nonetheless, her novels that were on anything from cartooning, dog training, and cover running were big on easy to follow directions and candid prose. Her novels have always been full of her drawings and bright quotes that make them some of the most fun crime mysteries out there. As a little girl, her curly Shirley Temple like hair made her mother designate her as a future actress though she never did want anything to do with acting. All she ever wanted to do was become a dog trainer and author. As such, she grew up dreaming of going into either of these professions though she would first branch out into private investigations, before becoming a dog trainer and finally author.

The “Rachel Alexander and Dash” series of novels are about Rachel, a complicated woman that had become a private investigator just as Lea Benjamin had years past. They had both found private investigations compelling especially given the fact that they get to work with their favorite friends – their dogs. Dashielle abbreviated as Dash is at the heart of every novel and is a fun and efficient part of the investigative team, fitting in her role seamlessly in every narrative. In most of the novels Dash is something of a bridge that connects Rachel to communicate with witnesses and suspects. As a dog she is more likely to be trusted by witnesses who are likely to talk more when interviewed in her presence than if Rachel was alone. Her innate canine skills such as scenting also come in handy in solving some cases in finding hidden clues or critical evidence in a case. However, at the core of the novels is Rachel as a private investigator who asks why a murder was committed and who is responsible.

The Rachel Alexander series while at their core crime mysteries show an interest in social issues of the day. The series of novels talk of varied themes from mental illness in the fourth novel, the New York Art world and show dog breeding in the first novel, seizure alert dog services and cloning in the fifth. Regardless of the theme of each novel, all are united by the lead characters Dash and Rachel who work and live in a Manhattan environment that is full of danger and thrill. The novels are written in a harder edge than your normal mystery novels that incorporate a dog in their stories. This makes for interesting narratives as they are written realistically about the nature of dogs and the relationships between people. Dash even when acting just as a dog would in fulfilling her role is respected not only for her intelligence but also for her canine skills. Rachel who once was a member of the New York PD gets to use her contacts in the force to gain access to information on cases she is working on. As an ordinary person walking the streets with her dog, she is a lively addition to the neighborhoods, as opposed to the archetypal private investigator that depends mostly on technology or statistics. She collects most of her information on foot talking to prospective witnesses and suspects, which makes for quite a lively feel to the novels.

“This Dog for Hire” the first novel of the Rachel Alexander and Dash series introduces Rachel Alexander, a leading private investigator who works alongside her dog Dash. Rachel is a thirty-eight year old woman that many people like to think is too suspicious for her own good, and has been deemed too independent for men’s liking. She lives in Greenwich Village with her pit bull terrier that she had about a year ago saved from the streets. Rachel and Dash are on the trail of Magritte a basenji barkless champion that has gone missing. They are also looking for a killer. The dog had once been the companion of a struggling artist that had been conveniently killed under a sign that warned pedestrians not to be caught alone in the area. Rachel’s quest takes her from a dog show at the Westminster Kennel Club, to the homeless world in Manhattan, to the Soho art scene. But in the Manhattan landscape making friends and true loves can be one of the most dangerous of things. Rachel soon learns that she cannot trust anyone until they prove themselves.

“The Dog Who Knew Too Much” is an emotional novel that tells the story of a dog’s broken heart that witnesses the tragic death of her owner. Alexander the private investigator goes back into the woman’s past after her grieving parents beg her to investigate. The tai teacher had allegedly fallen to her death in what was deemed a suicide after she jumped from the window ledge of her martial arts studio in Greenwich Village. Rachel provokes her enemies, meets her friends, studies with her mentor, and even wears her clothes to get a feel for her life. With Dash assisting her, she soon discovers that ignorance can be bliss. The case seems as hard to crack as a Zen riddle but over time she learns that only a cruel push would have made Lisa leave behind her dog.

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