The Persian Always Meows Twice
A Cat Groomer Mystery, Book #1
By Eileen Watkins
Authors website: efwatkins.com
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
Cat lovers are thrilled to welcome an expert groomer to the picturesque town of Chadwick. But scratch below the surface, and unmasking a killer becomes a game of cat and mouse . . .
Professional cat grooming isn’t all fluff–when the fur starts flying, Cassie McGlone, owner of Cassie’s Comfy Cats, handles her feistiest four-legged clients with a caring touch and nerves of steel. While these qualities certainly help keep her business purring, they also come in handy when she makes a house call to her best client, millionaire George DeLeuw, and discovers his murdered body next to his newly orphaned Persian, Harpo.
To help the local police find the actual killer, Cassie begins her own investigation. But no one, from George’s housekeeper to his vindictive ex-wife, is giving up clues. Not until Cassie is given permission to temporarily board Harpo does anyone show interest in the Persian’s wellbeing. Someone is desperate to get their paws on Harpo before the feline helps untangle a felony. Are there deadly truths that a cat whisperer like Cassie can coax out? She needs to tread lightly and remember she gets one life, not nine. . .
This is an impressive first-in-series that I really, really enjoyed. Our protagonist owns a business that focuses on an aspect of cat care that I have not yet seen in cozy mysteries, a grooming, and boarding facility. The cats are the stars of several chapters, the characters are finely honed, and the mystery is challenging. This is a series I definitely want to follow!
Cassie graduated college with a BA in psychology and a minor in art. Due to her love of animals, she became a veterinary technician and burned out after a couple years, going to school to be a cat groomer and animal behaviorist. When her ex-boyfriend turned into a stalker, she moved to Chadwick, NJ, where she expected a quiet life. She purchased a 100+ year old home in which she had the first floor built out as a boarding facility with a grooming area. The second floor became home to Cassie and her three companion, rescue cats.
Cassie’s new assistant, Sarah, is about 60. A former high school math teacher, the cats were much more delightful to work with. Having an assistant freed Cassie to pursue new business and gave her an extra pair of hands to hold a cat while being groomed, or play with them, or clean their boarding areas.
Cassie goes to the home of the one pet owner whose cat she grooms outside her shop, a wealthy man who has his own grooming room for Harpo, a gorgeous, cream-colored Persian. When she arrives at George DeLeux’ home, she is surprised to see Harpo outside, running into a bush. She catches and carries him to the open front door, enters, and follows Harpo to George’s library. There she found DeLeux lying face down on the carpet, dead, most likely from a fresh head injury. The housekeeper, Anita came running, then the police arrive, including Detective Angela Bonelli.
Concerned for Harpo’s future, Cassie sought a way to keep him safe from going to a shelter or to George’s ex-wife, who had Harpo’s litter mate put to sleep, supposedly due to an illness. In the meantime, the son of the handyman who does her carpentry work was picked up for questioning and accused of the DeLeux’ murder. There may be more to George’s murder than originally thought, and Cassie is in the thick of it. Especially after his attorney allowed Harpo to be boarded at Cassie’s Comfy Cats until the reading of the will. Not only are there people suddenly interested to take Harpo, but strange, potentially lethal incidents occur even as Cassie’s mother tells her ex-boyfriend where to find her.
I have to appreciate a cat owner whose home is decorated in ‘Tabby Chic’, furniture covered with throws that she can wash loose cat hair from. Cassie is a young woman after my heart who is concerned with her cats as well as those in her care. She and other characters are as defined as necessary for their roles. Cassie and Sarah are my favorites, as both love animals and are intelligent and caring. Sarah sounds like the kind of woman many would appreciate as a mother, bringing the wisdom of her years without toting out her own baggage at work. I’m looking forward to learning more about both! I also like Angela, the detective on the case. She is willing to hear Cassie’s thoughts and concerns on the case.
When one has the kind of money DeLeux had, one makes a few enemies along the way, along with those who want what he has. Even family members stand to profit nicely from the millions at stake. Plot twists and turns, however, bring an even uglier concern, as the FBI get involved in some of the business dealings. Red herrings abound, and despite my earlier suspicion of someone, I let that one off the hook to pursue a herring or two. Watch out for those who seem too innocent, as that is just the time that the shark comes out for the kill. I highly recommend this well-written cozy mystery, especially to those who enjoy cats and cat-related careers. It’s the cat’s meow!