by Cynthia Chow
& Laura Morrigan
This week we have a review of Horse of a Different Killer, a Call of the Wilde Mystery by Laura Morrigan. We also have a fun animal related guest post by Laura. Details at the end of this post on how to win a copy of the book, and a link to purchase it from indie bookstore Mysterious Galaxy where a portion goes to help support KRL.
Horse of a Different Killer: A Call of the Wilde Mystery By Laura Morrigan
Review by Cynthia Chow
Despite what she might think, Grace Wilde lives up to her name. An animal behaviorist as well as a veterinarian, Grace has an amazing talent with wildlife that has them literally eating out of her hands. With humans, though… The ability to psychically communicate with animals has Grace feeling like a pariah with her own species: if others knew of her talents, she’s sure to be disbelieved or thought crazy.
Grace has always relied on her sister for support, so after Emma’s abusive ex-husband wins a bid on Grace’s services, she is more than a little wary. When a Jacksonville detective reveals that Tony Ortega, the ex, is dead, and that Emma was found standing over his corpse, Grace’s first thought is that he must have deserved it. The second, though, is that Emma is innocent.
Grace is surprised to find herself hired by Tony’s fiancée Jasmine to locate the horse she believes he purchased before he died. The supermodel fell in love with the beautiful Friesian horse during a jewelry photo-shoot in Morocco, and Jasmine asks for Grace’s help. With Emma the target of the detective’s unwavering suspicions, Grace decides that she will conduct her own investigation into both the murder and the missing Friesian, beginning with the questioning of a calico cat and a fainting goat.
Much of the fun comes from the visits Grace makes to her human clients struggling with their companions. A tabby distracted by a fascinating new neighbor, a lonely half-wolf, and even a stranded alligator are misunderstood rather than problematic. Morrigan pulls off the astounding twist of making Grace’s talent feel entirely realistic, as the animals she communicates with never think in human terms. In fact, much of the challenge for Grace is how to interpret the thoughts of the animals as they work through their confusion about human behavior and culture.
Morrigan became one of my favorite authors with her début book in this series, and this third continues to be a delight. The appeal of the books stems from Grace herself, a complex and likable character. Grace admits to relying on “snarkasm”—a mix of snark and sarcasm—but she is also very aware that it’s a defense mechanism against feelings of insecurity or vulnerability. Completely comfortable with animals, Grace is often awkward around humans and terrified that she will again be rejected for her talents. Handsome Hawaiian Kai is one of the few within her circle aware of her secret, but Grace has no clue how to react to her growing affection for him. This may explain her nearly uncontrollable impulse to break out a Top Gun pick-up line whenever he is near.
Grace’s love and respect for animals are always a highlight of this series, but she’s slowly opening up to her human friends. Her smart wry wit is always entertaining, and Grace’s entanglements with her animal charges are always a joy. Characters from previous entries in the series smoothly appear in the nick of the time, filling out this satisfying and well-crafted world.
Enriching Your Pet’s Life
By Laura Morrigan
I suppose it’s no secret that I think of myself as an animal person. After all, I write books about a woman who uses her telepathic link to animals to solve crimes.
Like my protagonist, Grace, I feel a connection to all types of critters (though mine is not psychic- unfortunately) and feel strongly that we should work at keeping animals in our care healthy.
Years ago, I worked at a small, privately-owned zoo. The keepers were busy with all sorts of tasks, many not-so-glamorous, believe me, but one of my favorite things to work on was what we called “animal enrichment.” Basically, to provide an animal with a full, balanced life, you couldn’t just look at diet and exercise; you had to think about everything. For example, in the wild, an African elephant will walk several miles in a day. Sometimes, if food is scarce, closer to 50! As they wander, they encounter new things, visit the watering hole to drink and take a mud bath, maybe push over a couple of trees… you know, elephant stuff.
At the zoo, we would take the elephant on walks and let her play in the water and mud. We couldn’t let her push trees over willy-nilly, but to offer similar experience, we supplied her with huge tractor tires, sometimes hanging on a rope, sometimes on the ground, stacked etc, to shove around. Often, the tire had treats nestled inside so pushing the tire would offer a reward. She was getting a physical and mental workout that mirrored what she would do in the wild.
You might wonder why I am telling you this as you probably don’t have an elephant! Well, every animal in our care, exotic or otherwise, needs enrichment. Cats need a place to sharpen their claws and climb and something to “hunt.” Not just the little red laser dot, though they are super fun! But something to sink its teeth into.
Chickens need a place to scratch and hunt for bugs, and a bit of dry earth for dust baths. Dogs have a variety of needs- depending on the breed. A Border collie or a Labrador retriever will need more mental stimulation and exercise than a less active dog, but that doesn’t mean a pug won’t enjoy puzzling out how to get treats from a toy.
Rats, bunnies, hamsters, and Guinea pigs all need to chew–preferably not on your furniture or iPhone charger!
Thankfully, there are hundreds of websites which offer ideas on how to enhance the quality of your pet’s life. Heck, just peruse Pinterest for a bit to find great, sometimes free, ideas to make your animal(s) happy! Caviat- Pinterest is addictive!!! They key to enrichment, just as it is with humans, is to change things up. Think outside the litter box!
To enter to win a copy of Horse of a Different Killer, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Horse,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen April 4, 2015. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address, and if via comment please include your email address.
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