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Under the Dog Star (Rachel Goddard Mystery #4)

3.88  ·  Rating Details ·  164 Ratings  ·  40 Reviews
Pets in the mountain community of Mason County, Virginia, are vanishing mysteriously and “Missing Dog” posters cover the waiting room walls at Dr. Rachel Goddard’s veterinary clinic. A pack of feral canines roams at night, attacking livestock. Now a prominent physician, Gordon Hall, lies dead in his yard, his throat torn open. Sheriff’s Department investigator Tom Bridger, ...more
Hardcover, 316 pages
Published September 6th 2011 by Poisoned Pen Press (first published September 1st 2011)
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Community Reviews

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Oct 17, 2011 Ed rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: traditional mysteries with rural settings
Recommended to Ed by: fan of the series
I've read earlier titles in the Dr. Rachel Goddard/Capt. Tom Bridger series set in the fictional Mason County, Virginia. I like both protagonists and their ongoing romance. Tom is the steel, and Rachel is the fire here, I think. Mason County lies in the outback mountains of Southwest Virginia where I went to school. It's a gorgeous region, and the people are salt of the earth, the cliche aside. This adventure involves cruel dogfighting, savage murder, and dysfunctional families. The suspense ...more
Sep 12, 2011 Kathy rated it really liked it
This is my first Rachel Goddard mystery by Sandra Parshall and I am hooked! I am going to have to backtrack and read the rest of the series. What a captivating book!

Rachel Goddard is a veterinarian in Mason County, Virginia. Their is a darkness in parts of the county. Rumours of dog fighting abound. When the owner/operator of the local hospital is found murdered it looks as if he has been killed by a dog. And a pack of feral canines are terrorizing livestock in the county. Who would have though
Sep 05, 2011 Patricia rated it it was amazing
Family pets are disappearing in Mason County and Veterinarian Rachel Goddard is stumped as to why the dogs are missing and attempting to devise some method to locate the dogs. Rachel has moved in with Tom Bridger, Mason County Sheriff’s Deputy. Rachel and Tom are rapidly adapting to the new living arrangement. Tom worries that Rachel is spending too much time worrying about the missing dogs. Notices have been posted every place and he is sure the mystery will be solved before long.

Tom has anothe
Sep 09, 2011 Carol added it
Sandra Parshall's latest Rachel Goddard novel tackles a tough subject, making clear that dog fighting cheapens the humanity of everyone involved: the owners, the trainers, the promoters, and the enablers who place the bets. Many readers abhor graphic descriptions of animal abuse -- I'm one of them -- but the fights and their aftermath, although not sanitized, are handled with restraint.

When Gordon Hall, a much hated doctor in the mountain community of Mason County, Virginia, is found with his t
Oct 18, 2011 Beth rated it really liked it
You won’t have to wait a chapter or two for something to happen in Under the Dog Star by Sandra Parshall. It’s full of suspense from beginning to end. And the suspense doesn’t take long to become edge-of-your-seat.

Rachel is a veterinarian. She lives with her boyfriend, Tom, a police captain. Both are involved with a problem in their county—a pack of feral dogs is roaming at night onto private property, sometimes injuring or killing livestock. Rachel wants to capture the dogs along with Animal Co
Feb 15, 2016 Nolan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: public-library
Dr. Gordon Hall is dead! One of his children found him in the yard with his throat wripped out. He has left a final message on the family answering machine that seems to indicate that he knew his killer. But the fictional Mason County is on edge. Many of the area's homes have been impacted by the loss of their beloved pet dogs. Rachel Goddard, the community's veterinarian, has filled a wall in her practice with posters of missing dogs.

to add to the problem, the community must also deal with a gr
Tara Chevrestt
This story supports my theory that dogs are better than humans. You got a town full of white trash, rabid, stupid people running around placing guns in police officers' faces, hunting down feral dogs whom they blame for everything but the weather, and one dysfunctional family after another... against one pack of feral dogs made up of mostly abandoned pets that are just trying to survive.

You've probably figured out that the lower rating is due to the characters. There was hardly a soul to like i
Aug 28, 2011 Vivian rated it it was ok
Under the Dog Star by Sandra Parshall takes the sultry dog days of summer and adds in a healthy dose of intrigue around missing dogs, a pack of feral dogs, rumors about dog fights, and a wicked killing. The action takes place in rural Virginia and the mysteries are investigated by veterinarian, Dr. Rachel Goddard, and her significant other, Deputy Sheriff Tom Bridger.

The veterinary clinic has a wall filled with pictures and notices of missing dogs. There are numerous sightings of a pack of feral
Gloria Feit
Feb 09, 2012 Gloria Feit rated it it was amazing
This is the fourth entry in Sandra Parshall’s Agatha Award-winning series, which brings back Rachel Goddard, veterinarian in Mason County, in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, where there has been a rash of mysterious disappearances of family pets from all over the area, posters of which cover the walls of Rachel’s animal hospital. At the same time, reports have been coming in of a pack of feral dogs attacking ranches and homes at night, stealing eggs and killing chickens, threatening the ...more
Kait Carson
Mar 01, 2015 Kait Carson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book took my breath away. The story begins with two unrelated events. The disappearance of family dogs and the gruesome murder of Dr. Hall. The weapon, a dog. From there it takes off on a spellbinding and haunting journey through the eyes of both Rachel Goddard, the vet who is trying to humanely capture and rehome a pack of abandoned dogs, and Tom Bridger, Rachel's lover and a Mason Country Police Captain who must look at these same events through a policeman's eyes. When the Hall family ...more
May 21, 2011 stormhawk rated it really liked it
Recommended to stormhawk by: netgalley
Female lead characters in mysteries are usually tough guys, even the little old ladies.


But Sandra Parshall's second novel tells us more about Dr. Rachel Goddard, a veterinarian in a small Virginia town. She's soft-hearted, loves animals and children, and works to care for those around her. She lands smack in the middle of a murder investigation being pursued by her boyfriend, the local deputy sheriff and confronts a mob of townsfolk armed with the modern equivalent of pitchforks and torc
Nancy Adams
Sep 09, 2011 Nancy Adams rated it really liked it
Four-and-a-half stars, to be precise. Like every other book by Sandra Parshall, this one keeps you glued to the page until the very end. If you like your mysteries medium-boiled, make sure to add this series to your TBR pile!

The writing is graceful, the characters, both major and minor, fully fleshed out and alive on the page. Protagonists veterinarian Rachel Goddard and deputy-sheriff Tom Bridger are sympathetic but also human and the murdered man's well-to-do family as satisfying dysfunctional
Jul 30, 2014 Beverly rated it really liked it
In Mason County, Virginia, “Missing Dog” posters cover the waiting room walls at Dr. Rachel Goddard’s veterinary clinic. A pack of feral canines roams at night, attacking livestock in a search for food. Now a prominent physician, Gordon Hall, has been found dead, his throat torn open. Sheriff ’s Department investigator Tom Bridger believes the killing was premeditated murder, with a trained attack dog as the weapon. But Dr. Hall’s son insists that the pack killed his father, and he organizes a ...more
Oct 24, 2011 Debra rated it really liked it
The latest in the Dr. Rachel Goddard, veterinarian, mystery series has as its backdrop dog fighting and collecting (only the collectees were children, not animals.) Less character development than I'd come to expect from this series, but a solid novel nonetheless.

One of the areas that I respect is that when Sandra Parshalls chooses an issue to wrap her story around, she lays it out but doesn't preach and preach about it. So many issue books lose me as their passion exceeds their narrative. Ms. P
May 09, 2011 Grace rated it really liked it
When a prominent doctor is found with his throat ripped out, investigator Tom Bridger and veterinarian, Rachel Goddard race to find the killer. The murder is being blamed on a pack of feral dogs that Rachel is trying to save. Parshall has crafted an intriging mystery involving the horrors of dog fighting and missing pets used as "bait dogs". Most interesting is the storyline of the doctor's family, including biological and adopted children. Parshall masterfully draws comparisons of unwanted pets ...more
Sasscer Hill
Sep 29, 2011 Sasscer Hill rated it it was amazing
UNDER THE DOG STAR, by Sandra Parshall, Poisoned Pen Press
Parshall keeps the tension wire tight and humming throughout this excellent novel. The secrets and psychological warfare brewing inside the book’s Hall family will keep the reader turning page after page. Parshall’s killer dog is a terrifying brute, yet the author’s love of animals shines through. Readers will root for heroine Rachel to save a feral pack of dogs from a fate that awaits so many deserted, homeless animals.
Highly recommende
May 29, 2014 Linda rated it liked it
Veterinarian Rachel Goddard and her love interest Captain Tom Bridger of the local sheriff's department team up to solve the murder of a prominent doctor in rural Virginia. A pack of feral dogs is on the loose and seem to be the cause of the doctor's brutal death. However, nothing is what it seems to be and before long secrets of the community are uncovered. This is the fourth in the series and one I hope to revisit --another enjoyable Malice Domestic 25 freebie from an Agatha Award winner!
Ada Iaboni
Feb 14, 2016 Ada Iaboni rated it liked it
This one too, should get 3.5 stars.
At the start you know something is wrong in this town's most prominent family. It also appeared that it was going to go in a strange direction but redeemed itself to just vicious people. Dogs are the main characters in this novel and Rachel comes to the rescue.
Dec 16, 2012 Donna rated it liked it
I definitely wish I had started with the first of the series, but this was an impulse pull-off-the-shelf at the library read. I will now try to get started at the beginning. I liked the characters and the plot and I didn't really figure out the mystery until very late. I like it when I'm not smarter than the author!
Carolyn Rose
Oct 13, 2011 Carolyn Rose rated it really liked it
It took me some time to get into this, possibly because it's the first of the series that I've read. Some characters seemed a little flat and stereotypical, but there were so many of them that it would have been difficult to fully develop each of them. As the tension built and I wondered more about who I could trust, I connected more to the story and enjoyed the race-to-the-crossing ending.
Feb 11, 2013 Lisa rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
Enjoyed the story. Liked the plot of saving the dogs but I would of liked to know what happened to the lead alpha dog in the pack. I have liked all of Parshall's books but this was one of the best to me (after The Heat of the Moon). This story had a lot of bad characters so it was fun trying to figure out who was doing what.
Andy Plonka
Nov 27, 2011 Andy Plonka rated it liked it
I liked her other books better. I'm not sure that I'm on the side of saving dogs that have been trained to kill. It's hard to retrain such behavior and is risky for people who aren't trained to deal with dogs that have agression problems. That is how people end up with serious dog bite injuries and a dog with serious agression problems really is better off dead.
I just love this series featuring Rachel Goddard and Tom Bridger. Hard subject to read about (dog fighting) due to being a big animal lover, but an enjoyable outcome. Can't wait to see what happens next!
Aug 13, 2012 Phyllis rated it it was ok
What is my problem? I read writers, like this one, that other readers give a four star. And I wanted to love this book since the author is also on Dorothy-L and Deborah Crombie blurbed it. I love Deborah Crombie. That is why I chose this book. I didn't love it. I did finish it.
Aug 18, 2016 Diane rated it it was amazing
Shelves: library-book, mystery
Loved the first two books of this series, but this one, as you can tell by how fast I read it, had me from the first many involved, but it kept circling around and who was under the Dog Star?
Audrey K.
May 31, 2014 Audrey K. rated it liked it
Time for a mystery!.........This was the first book I read by this author, and I just might need to read another by her!
Feb 15, 2012 Jackie rated it really liked it
This is the first book by Sandra Parshall I read. I really liked it, very intense. I'm definitely going to go back and read the first three! :)
Leslie Angel
Apr 01, 2012 Leslie Angel rated it really liked it
like the setting and characters. Protag is a vet, lots of dog stuff including fights but not too upsetting.
Nov 04, 2011 Malia rated it it was amazing
I like this better than the last one, (broken places). I like the relationship too.A bit of tangled story line. Makes it pretty good read.
Aug 03, 2012 Caitlin rated it it was amazing
Super suspenseful, and had me hooked right from the start. Rachel Goddard was such a great character and I can't wait to learn more about her past when I read the other 3 books in the series.
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Sandra Parshall is the author of the Rachel Goddard Mysteries: The Heat of the Moon, which won the Agatha Award for Best First Novel of 2006; Disturbing the Dead; Broken Places; Under the Dog Star; and Bleeding Through (Sept 2012). A former reporter on newspapers in her home state of South Carolina as well as West Virginia and Baltimore, MD, she now lives in the Washington, DC, area with her ...more
More about Sandra Parshall...

Other Books in the Series

Rachel Goddard Mystery (6 books)
  • The Heat of the Moon (Rachel Goddard Mystery #1)
  • Disturbing the Dead (Rachel Goddard Mystery, #2)
  • Broken Places (Rachel Goddard Mystery #3)
  • Bleeding Through (Rachel Goddard Mystery #5)
  • Poisoned Ground (Rachel Goddard Mystery #6)

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