by Cynthia Chow
& Deborah Blake
This week we have a review of the first in a new series by Deborah Blake, along with a guest post by Deborah about her rescue cats. Details at the end of the post on how to enter to win a signed copy of the book and a link to order it from Amazon and an indie bookstore.
Furbidden Fatality: A Catskills Pet Rescue Mystery By Deborah Blake
Review by Cynthia Chow
Maybe buying a pet shelter – spur of the moment, sight unseen – wasn’t the best idea. But Kari Stuart had recently gotten out of a bad marriage, was about to turn thirty, and oh yes, had just won a five-million-dollar lottery. At a loss what to do next in her life, it took finding a stray kitten and discovering that all of the local pet shelters were overflowing their capacities to propel her into to making such an impulsive decision. Now the owner of the languishing Serenity Sanctuary in Lakeview, New York, Kari finds herself responsible for much-needed repairs and skeptical volunteers. Even worse is Bill Myers, the town dog warden, who has filed yet another complaint against the Sanctuary. This time he is accusing one of their pit bulls of escaping and biting a man, something that neither the shelter staff nor Kari can believe. Especially since Queenie, the kitten who spurred the sanctuary purchase and adopted Kari as her human, finds sitting on top of Buster’s head a very cozy, comfortable, and safe place to nap.
Before Kari and her new sanctuary friends are able to gather evidence disputing the dog warden’s claims, Kari has the misfortune of finding Bill Myers’ body at the rescue, strangled to death with a snare pole. It’s not a huge leap for the Sheriff to see Kari or one of the pet shelter staff as probable suspects, despite the dog warden’s detestable personality and proclivity for citing and confiscating pets. Having lived her life being bullied and bossed around, a newly determined, and wealthy, Kari rallies her forces to make their way through the labyrinth of small-town bureaucracy and furious pet owners. Not even misspelled graffiti or acts of vandalism at Kari’s new home/sanctuary will keep her from her mission to protect her animals and human friends.
This first in a new series is a fun and often hilarious mystery that introduces a naïve, but intelligent and determined heroine. A political scandal kept the news of Kari’s initial win from hitting the headlines, but the murder and her implication in it quickly ends that. The subsequent arrival of her rehab-hopping brother is the first of her estranged family to arrive in town, but readers should be reassured that Kari is no doormat when it comes to standing up for her herself or her ideals. A meeting with the handsome Princess Bride-loving veterinarian hints of impending romance in Kari’s future, but it’s the bonds she makes with the sanctuary staff and her prospective adoptees that are at the heart of this novel. Acerbic law enforcement officers, snarky banter, and a jaded staffer prevent this from being a saccharine-sweet cozy mystery, which balances the affection for pets with delightful humor and practical investigations. It will be an entertaining thrill to watch Kari and her pet rescue develop and land them in their next animal-centric escapade.
By Deborah Blake
I have had cats my entire life, and almost all of those have been rescues of one sort or another. I’ve gotten kittens from barns, adult cats from shelters where they had languished unadopted for over a year, and in one memorable instance, took in a stray who showed up at two a.m. in February in the middle of my driveway and just sat there in the freezing cold.
My current feline overlords, er, I mean pets (seriously, who am I kidding) were all variations on this theme. When I was losing my beloved Magic and Mystic (sister and brother, both dying of different kinds of cancers), I turned to a local rescue organization which had been created with the intention of helping the cats and dogs that would otherwise have fallen through the cracks.
Harry Dresden, a sleek black cat then named Ocean, was staying with one of the heroic folks who fostered multiple cats. Around four months old, he crawled into my lap and fell asleep, and I knew that it had been settled. He came home with me a couple of weeks later, when I lost Magic and Mystic within eight days of each other, and only had my senior cat Angus left. It is no exaggeration to say that Harry rescued me as much as I rescued him.
Shortly after that, I adopted brother and sister Koshka and Ember, who another organization had rescued from a twenty-five cat hoarding situation. I’d only intended to get one other cat, but when I saw them together, it was clear they were bonded, and so I took them both. No one knew exactly how old they were because their previous owner hadn’t kept records, but the vet thought about five or six months old. Suddenly, I had a house full of half-grown kittens! Thank goodness Angus was the sweetest of cats and got along with everyone.
When the Wild Bunch, as I called them, were about two, the rescue I got Harry from put out an emergency call for someone to foster a stray mama and her four newborn kittens. Their shelter was full to overflowing, with kittens in the storage rooms, and all their regular fosters were at capacity. I’d done a little volunteering there since I’d gotten Harry because I was so impressed with the organization, which did so much good on a shoestring budget, with a mostly volunteer staff. And I was sure that with three crazy still-mostly-kittens in the house, and one older statesman, I wouldn’t be tempted to keep any of kittens.
Yes, you may take a moment to laugh. I’ll wait. The mama turned out to be very sweet, and we called her Freya. The three boy kittens were beyond adorable, and the one girl was full of attitude. It was all fine, until they got sick. This isn’t unusual with strays, but while Freya and the boys recovered after a couple of weeks of trauma (for me) and back and forth trips to the rescue for treatment, the little girl really struggled.
In the end, between the amazing woman who runs the rescue and me, we managed to save the life of the kitten we named Diana, after the Amazon princess because she was such a fighter. But by then, this stubborn little striped tiger had decided I belonged to her. And if you’ve ever been chosen by a cat, you know there’s no point in arguing. So everyone else went on to wonderful homes and Diana stayed with me, a foster fail, destined to join the gang.
You might wonder what all this has to do with my new book, Furbidden Fatality, the first in my new cozy mystery series. Well, when my agent and I first decided my writing voice might be suited to cozies, I had to come up with an idea for the series. A fun protagonist, an interesting setting, and something with heart to bring people to the books and make them want to stay.
I was so inspired by that local rescue organization, Super Heroes in Ripped Jeans, I knew I wanted to set my mysteries at a struggling shelter. But what if, I thought, there was a woman who needed a purpose and won some money in the lottery? And what if she met a bossy black kitten who led her to this shelter, and then well, things happened? And thus a series was born.
I assure you, all four of my cats approve.
To enter to win a copy of Furbidden Fatality, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “furbidden,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen March 27, 2021. U.S. residents only and you must be 18 or older to enter. If you are entering via email please include you mailing address in case you win, it will be deleted after the contest. You can read our privacy statement here if you like. BE AWARE THAT IT WILL TAKE LONGER THAN USUAL FOR WINNERS TO GET THEIR BOOKS DUE TO THE CURRENT CRISIS.
Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Be sure to check out our new mystery podcast too with mystery short stories, and first chapters read by local actors. A new episode went up this week.
You can use this link to purchase this book from indie bookstore Mysterious Galaxy, and KRL gets a portion of the sale:
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