Dial M for Maine Coon
A Furever Pets Mystery, Book #2
By Alex Erickson
Author Website: alexericksonbooks(.)com
Bought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
Animal rescue is always risky business, but Liz Denton, owner of the Furever Pets, finds out it’s also dangerous when someone puts down one of her prospective pet adopters . . .
Liz is thrilled to find a forever home for her latest rescue, Sheamus, a Maine Coon cat. But on adoption day, she discovers Sheamus’s would-be owner, Joe Hitchcock, murdered in his study. Joe’s shocking death reveals an even more startling secret: his real name was Joe Danvers . . . a man accused of killing his wife thirty years ago.
Liz knows she should focus on finding Sheamus a new home, but this mystery already has its claws in her. So Liz begins vetting the clues from both investigations. But with a stalker sniffing at her heels and a rival swatting at her business, Liz’s curiosity may come at a hefty price . . . especially since Joe’s case has more lives than a cat. (Goodreads)
What a fun, fascinating cozy mystery this is, having captivated me from the opening page! Liz has a business that sounds (mostly) enjoyable. The characters and pets are defined so well I can almost picture them. The mystery is fast-paced and absorbing. One thing I appreciated that is a little different from many cozies is that the main character is married, and while a time is spent with the family dynamics, there isn’t a lot of time or angst on romantic encounters. While I had an idea who the bad guy was, I couldn’t figure out why.
Liz runs a pet rescue for the love of the cats and dogs she finds homes for, because there is little financial profit! It is a family affair, as her husband is a vet and does necessary exams and vaccines, and when necessary, her son or daughter assist with care and feeding. They have one pet of their own, Wheels, a calico kitty who moves faster with her front legs, harness, and wheels than many cats do with all four legs.
Liz found a loving home for Sheamus, a handsome Maine Coon cat. Due to some long-term conditions, finding a home wasn’t easy, but the eighteen-pound Sheamus will be a perfect companion for Joe Hitchcock. Liz arrived at Joe’s home on time, but he didn’t answer the door. She wrote a post-it note for him, then discovered his door was not latched. She called his name and entered the home but didn’t get a response. Joe Hitchcock, the kind man she met a few days ago was dead, apparently murdered in his home office.
Detective Cavanaugh and Liz had met in recent months, and he was on the scene quickly. She asked about an interesting bulletin board she had glanced at in the office that had photos and news attached to it with pieces of colored yarn connecting some of them – almost like what one would see on a TV cop show. While he couldn’t comment on it, the detective could comment on one thing. The man’s real name was Joe Danvers, suspected of killing his wife and disappearing 30 years ago. His late wife’s body was never found, however, so there was never evidence of his guilt.
Someone followed her when she left Joe’s house for home. Then Courtney, a competing pet rescuer who wants to put Liz out of business arrives with a yapping dog in a carrier that she begs Liz to take. Piranha nips and yaps constantly. She left Piranha, carrier and all, and escaped.
Liz’s daughter Amelia is being mentored by a private investigator and plans to become one. He is very familiar with Joe Danvers, who had hired him years ago to find what had happened to his beloved wife. Chester is an excellent PI, and while they never found Joe’s wife before he left town, Chester has investigated her disappearance on and off in the years since. Chester thought Joe’s wife was still alive, and perhaps had been frightened into leaving. There were – and still are – people in town who were hatefully prejudiced and lied about Joe at the time.
Liz, Chester, Amelia, and Maya, a PI who works for Chester, are intrigued and want to find out what happened to Joe, especially when Liz learns who is stalking her. When threats are made to Liz about her family members, the cost might get too high.
The characters are realistic and likable. They are also defined as needed for their roles. I enjoyed the interactions of Liz’s family, as well as Amelia’s with Chester and Maya. Liz is my favorite character as I love her concern for the pets in her care and the people she meets. She is smart, loving, and loyal, even if at times a bit impulsive. I was startled at some of the chances she takes to find the truth, especially when her daughter was with her. Her tact when dealing with Courtney is amazing, more than I could have had!
Plot twists bring remarkable changes to the mystery. For example, the identity of the stalker was quite a surprise! The mystery itself was riveting; it was hard for me to put the book down. The solution is not easy to find. There was no easy way to discover without someone who has first-hand knowledge what happened to Joe’s wife, but the background on it sounded realistic. As far as Joe’s murder, I narrowed down my favorite suspect who didn’t seem to be on anyone’s radar but couldn’t come up with the reason why. There were surprises at the end, and all loose ends were tied up. I highly recommend this cozy mystery and am looking forward to the next in series!