Nature of the Beast

An Easy Taylor Mystery

By Roland Keller

Subjects: Fiction, New York/regional
Series: Excelsior Editions
Imprint: Excelsior Editions
Paperback : 9781438450100, 287 pages, January 2014

While searching for a missing pit bull, private investigator Easy Taylor explores the unsavory worlds of animal laboratory testing and dog fighting, uncovering bizarre genetic testing that alters the nature of beasts.


Since losing his job and its regular paycheck at an Albany investigative firm, life for private investigator Edward Zachery Taylor, known as Easy, is going downhill. In business for himself—with no boss, no client, and no money—Easy's car has been repossessed and he's behind on his rent. Getting a referral from his friend, veterinarian Henrietta Van Vonderhueeks, Easy reluctantly accepts the assignment of finding Catskill sheep farmer Diana Hunter's missing pit bull which may have been abducted for dog fighting.

With retainer in hand, Easy immediately places bets with his local bookie who gives him a lead that takes him into the seamy underworld of dog fighting. Then, on an errand for the veterinarian to a local testing lab, Easy encounters the bizarre genetic research being conducted there by Dr. Phyllis Steen. The two worlds converge in the lab's secretive efforts at genetically altering the nature of beasts by transforming passive creatures into aggressive ones.

Roland Keller was born in New York City and later moved to the Catskill Mountains, where he still resides with his wife, Patricia. He is the author of Pardee Holler: An Easy Taylor Mystery, also published by SUNY Press, and has been the editor of PKA's Advocate, a literary publication, for nearly three decades. Together, he and his wife raise Paso Fino horses.


"Keller is a gifted writer when it comes to describing the details of taking care of animals and the joy and frustration they bring to people. " — Kaatskill Life

Praise for Pardee Holler:

"Easy Taylor may be the most flawed detective since Sam Pulsifer in An Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England, but also one of the most entertaining. In Pardee Holler we witness a collision at the intersection of crooked Albany politicians, greedy Catskills developers, backwoods Pardee Mountain folk, and idealistic tree huggers. This book is a pitch-perfect homage to the down and almost out gumshoe, complete with a private dick who can't resist playing the horses with his last sawbuck. " — Ray Petersen, author of The Middle of Everywhere: A Novel