The 2 Sisters Pet Valet Mysteries #2
By Dane McCaslin
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
Retired schoolteacher Gwen Franklin has a new pet project–and a sideline in sleuthing. But this new case has a dangerous sting in the tail . . .
Gwen’s calendar has been filling up ever since she was hounded by her best friend, Nora, into starting 2 Sisters Pet Valet Services. Now they’ve been invited to attend the annual Clear the Shelter event, hosted by Portland’s very own blonde bombshell newscaster, Babs Prescott. Babs is convinced she’s top dog among local celebrities, but it’s clear that someone disagrees when Babs’ body is found following a downtown press conference.
A story this juicy would be headline news at any time, but especially once local crime reporter Shelby Tucker is arrested for the murder. Gwen was Shelby’s high school teacher, and she’s sure her former pupil is innocent. But in that case, who was itching to take Babs out of the spotlight for good? As Nora and Gwen investigate, they find personal mysteries at odds with Babs’ public persona, all leading to a killer who’s not pussyfooting around . . . (From Goodreads)
The mystery itself is, overall, good, with an assortment of suspects. I enjoyed reading about the Portland, Oregon neighborhood where Gwen and Nora lived, and the idea of the new business the two old friends recently began. The characters are an eclectic mix of ages and lifestyles.
Gwen and Nora have been best friends since kindergarten. Now in their early fifties, they get into as many insult-trading spats as they probably did back then, which at times is mildly amusing and at other times a distraction. Gwen was a high school English teacher who took early retirement and has been working with Nora in their new Pet Valet business. One of Gwen’s former students, Brent, walks dogs for them, and his girlfriend Rachel is starting to do the same. As a new pet-related business in the area, they were invited to attend the annual Clear the Shelter fundraising event. One of the local TV news anchors, Babs, will present awards to people involved in various aspects of caring for pets at the local shelters.
Gwen’s primary reason for being on social media is to keep up with her former students and see their growing families. She opened her Instagram feed and found a photo of Babs with Shelby, a local newspaper journalist and former student they stay in contact with. Nora called Shelby about the photo and heard a very upset young woman. At the event they were covering, Babs suggested to Shelby that she needed a spa makeover and recommended the Fabulous Fattie Farm. Shelby comments that she was considering murder, a figure of speech that this young woman used to blow off steam. The TV news later opened with the stunning announcement that Babs was dead. Calling Shelby again, they learned that she found Babs just after she died. Later, Shelby is the only person of interest in Babs’s murder. Nora’s current beau, Marcus, a PI, will begin to look into it for them. Babs was not well-liked by anyone. A blond bombshell, she enjoyed being the center of attention and didn’t care who she stepped on to get it. Surely the suspect list is longer than just one person.
The characters are well-defined, and I found Gwen and Roger, the first man to ask Gwen out for a long time, and most of Gwen’s former students were very likable. Nora is a little too eccentric for my liking. Yes, there are positive things about her, but I had a hard time with her overall personality and tactless comments. I liked their new friend. Louisa, who might also prove helpful to the mystery, and hope to see more of her.
Overall, I like the premise of the Pet Valet company, including the special care given to Isis. I would like to see more of the pets they care for, having enjoyed the morning they spent with Isis, and less of the snarky exchanges between the best friends as they were too distracting. The age difference between the older ladies and Gwen’s former students does show how the younger generation is, overall, responsible and respectful of Gwen and Nora. The dogs owned by Gwen, Roger, and Brent were a delightful addition. The bad guy absolutely surprised me; it was someone I had not considered. I recommend this to those who enjoy the idea of mysteries associated with pets and a possibility of romance.