Claws for Suspicion
A Catskills Pet Rescue Mystery #3
By Deborah Blake
Author’s website: deborahblakeauthor.com
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
When someone from her past comes to town to cause trouble, Kari Stuart and her sassy kitten Queenie will have to work hard to protect the Serenity Sanctuary in this new Catskills Pet Rescue Mystery.
Kari Stuart is finally starting to relax into her role as the new owner of the Serenity Sanctuary and is looking forward to the various fun autumn activities in the beautiful Catskills town of Lakeview, like the annual Oktoberfest celebration. It’s time for friends and quality bonding with handsome vet Angus McCoy. Until the unexpected arrival of her unpleasant ex-husband, Charlie Smith.
He comes bearing a shocking revelation–the paperwork on their divorce never went through, and they are still married. Worse yet, he thinks this entitles him to half of her lottery winnings–although he’ll happily take partial ownership of the sanctuary instead. Kari isn’t sure if he’s telling the truth, or if it’s just another one of Charlie’s lies.
But things go from bad to worse when an unexpected death makes Kari the main suspect in a murder investigation. Will she and Queenie be able to find the real killer and keep the home they’ve built at the sanctuary safe, or is their string of luck finally tapped out? (From Goodreads)
This is the best novel in the series so far! Early autumn in New York’s Catskill Mountains sounds like a visit I would enjoy. The town is preparing for Oktoberfest at a local microbrewery where there will be something for everyone who attends. Characterization is excellent; our protagonist and her friends are very likable, and I get to know them a little better with each visit. Who can resist Kari’s pets, especially Queenie, and the pets at the shelter? This well written, intriguing mystery opens, however, with one of the worst dreams come true for many divorced women.
Kari is a young woman I admire and in some ways envy. She is living a hard-working dream since winning a huge lottery several months ago. She purchased the Serenity Sanctuary, a no-kill animal shelter that was in desperate need of funds to keep it open and serious repairs and updating. Kari put a tremendous amount of time and money into making it a modern, safe, roomy place to care for pets while they await their fur-ever home. She was able to keep the volunteers, including Sara, a retired high school teacher, and Bryn, who she could hire part time around her college classes.
It was not one of the happiest moments of Kari’s life to hear Charlie, her ex-husband, when he came in to see her, flowers in hand. She had fallen for his smooth talking once, and she refuses to repeat her mistakes. He came when he learned their divorce had not been finalized a few years earlier, that a document Kari was supposed to sign and return to the clerk’s office was not received. They are still legally married despite having been to court and hearing the judge’s decree. Since they are still married, there is the little matter of her lottery winnings. His attorney said he is entitled to half of it. He would be more than happy to take the sanctuary off her hands if she doesn’t have enough money in the bank to satisfy his demands. Charlie also wants her to come back to him and be a lady of leisure.
The plan that he and a partner have concocted for the property the sanctuary sits on is to turn it into a glamping resort. Charlie and Kari could just watch “their” money multiply, and he will “help” her wisely use the rest of her winnings. As her husband, he claims he has that right. Kari, however, is not leaving the sanctuary, nor is she giving him the first place she has ever felt safe, the place that has given her purpose and meaning. Telling Angus, the handsome vet she has been dating, about Charlie’s news, might not be easy. Then, when a murder takes place and Kari is at the top of the sheriff’s suspect list, everything changes.
The characters are well-developed; the author brings each one to life through realistic dialog and behavior. I like Kari and Sara best, as well as Kari’s adorable kitten, Queenie. Charlie is larger than life, and like Kari, I would prefer to see as little of him as possible. After telling half the town they are still married, he cost her a few friends who think she has been living a lie. One of the things I love about most of the characters is their love for companion animals and willingness to help the ones in the sanctuary. It is what makes the series sing.
Kari has a vested interest in finding out who the killer is. She had been accused of murder in the past, as had bestie Suz. They proved everyone wrong and helped find the killers who set up her and her Suz. Now if she could just refute what Charlie has told everyone and help find another killer, everything else will work its way out. Plot twists served to reveal more possible suspects; this armchair sleuth was kept guessing throughout. The killer was somewhat of a surprise even though still on my “suspect list”. The ending was more than satisfactory, and I look forward to the next adventure at the Serenity Sanctuary. I highly recommend this, and the earlier books in the series!