A Catskills Pet Rescue Mystery #2
By Deborah Blake
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
Kari Stuart is roped into helping out at a dog show–but soon finds she’s bitten off more than she can chew when her best friend is framed for murder in this new Catskills Pet Rescue Mystery.
When the woman running the big regional dog show calls out sick, dog groomer Suz Holden is asked to take over. But it’s too much for her to handle by herself– considering the president of the kennel club, Olivia Weiner, criticizes her at every turn–so she calls in her best friend, Kari Stuart, for help.
A long, stressful day goes from bad to worse when a local breeder is found dead, and the murder weapon seems to incriminate Suz.
While Kari knows her friend isn’t guilty, the police aren’t so sure, especially after a second murder points to Suz again. But trying to run a dog show and investigate a murder at the same time is like herding cats, and Kari will have to rely on the rest of the Serenity Sanctuary staff to keep things running smoothly while she–and her beloved and clever kitten, Queenie–sniff out the truth. (from Goodreads)
This quickly became my new favorite series of cat – and dog – mysteries with the first book earlier this year. Kari, her best friend Suz, the staff and volunteers at the shelter, and Angus, the charming young veterinarian, are my kind of people. The setting in Lakeview, New York, is beautifully described. There is humor and a personality-plus kitten who refuses to take NO for an answer.
Kari and others from Serenity Sanctuary set up at the Tri-County Kennel Club show for the weekend. They have a tent to bring awareness of the shelter, including a request for volunteers and a donation jar. They brought photos of dogs ready to be adopted and several kittens needing fur-ever homes. Kari’s six-month-old kitten, Queenie, is with her. Queenie rides in Kari’s tote or on her shoulder and was excellent at finding clues when a dead body was found on the shelter property a few months ago.
Suz, a pet groomer and member of the local kennel club, also has a tent set up. Her clients want final touchups on their dogs before taking them into the ring. She brought one of her own dogs to show. Jazz is not a purebred, but they have worked hard to prepare him for agility trials for mixed breed dogs. Suz was appointed to take the place of the woman in charge of overseeing the show due to sudden illness.
Olivia is president of the local kennel club where Suz is a member. She is intimidating and only impressed with prestige, money, and power. She has dreams of going all the way to the Westminster show with Snowball, her bichon frise. Snowball has won every show he has been in this year. Olivia has a special handler for her dog, Francine of Blue Skies Kennel.
A professional in the ring, Francine was very unprofessional outside the ring. She and Suz had words when it looked like she had her hand raised over a frightened Snowball. She also had loud, angry words with a man who is shouting about being there to get his money, but she denies knowing who he is. Somebody took a snip of fur out of the perfect trim Suz gave Snowball, and there were additional words between Suz, Olivia, and Francine even as she repaired the appearance of the gorgeous pup. Francine and octogenarian Miriam had words as well. Miriam said she was also known as Lois Keller, whose unethical breeding business had been shut down after selling her a dog with a serious genetic disorder.
Suz and Kari went through the grounds to attend to everything on the closing checklist as the first day ended. When complete, they headed to the supply tent to store ribbons and other items. The tent, surprisingly, was tied shut. Queenie dashed under the canvas and into the tent. They untied the entry, Kari went to get her kitten, and made the grisly find. Francine was dead inside with a pair of special-order grooming scissors sticking out of her chest. Unfortunately, only Suz used the unique lavender handled grooming tools.
I got to know the regular characters even better in this novel than the first. More than merely telling the basic facts, the author shows who each person is through realistic conversations and behavior. While it is hard to choose a favorite, Kari is one, and Sara, one of the volunteers, is another. I enjoyed seeing Kari and Angus get to know each other a little better, but really appreciate that the mystery, characters, and pets take priority over romance in the novel.
The author builds the suspense page-by-page throughout. The sheriff got to know Kari and Suz very well during the investigation of the previous murder at the animal shelter, but he is obligated to follow the evidence. Just from her behavior, Francine would have made at least a few enemies. Kari and the sheriff were in no way prepared for who, or what they found at Francine’s kennel. While I was a little surprised at the real bad guy and multiple motives, I am not sad at the overall outcome. I can’t wait for the next adventure for Kari, Queenie, and the Serenity Shelter! This is definitely one of my favorite pet series, and I highly recommend this mystery and series!