by Cynthia Chow
& Liz Mugavero
This week we have a review & giveaway of a fun pet related mystery, Icing on the Corpse by Liz Mugavero. We also have a fun pet related guest post from Liz where she talks about the animals who inspired the pets in her books. Details at the end of this review on how to enter to win a copy of Icing on the Corpse. There is also a link to purchase the book where a portion goes to help support KRL & indie bookstore Mysterious Galaxy.
Icing on the Corpse: A Pawsitively Organic Mystery By Liz Mugavero
Review by Cynthia Chow
Losing her prestigious job in financial public relations was the best thing that could have happened for Kristan “Stan” Connor. Moving to tiny Frog Ledge, Connecticut gave her the inspiration to create Pawsitively Organic Gourmet Pet Foods, baking specialty dog and cat snacks for clients and local markets. Her latest success has Stan supplying food and treats for the new combination veterinary clinic/shelter that her homeopathic veterinarian is opening.
Stan has also been given the privilege of presenting a gift to Lilypad, the groundhog-of-honor at Frog Ledge’s celebratory Groundhog Day festival. Unfortunately, the presentation is preempted when historian Helga Oliver is discovered dead in the museum basement. Although Helga may have been more respected than beloved, she was the surrogate grandmother of Stan’s (maybe) boyfriend Jake McGee and her assistant baker Brenna.
When Helga’s self-declared medium daughter announces the death was a murder, Stan is reluctant to add her own suspicions and risk upsetting Jake. Jake’s other sister is Trooper Jessie Pasquale, who has in turns accused Stan of being both a murderer and a meddler. Now Stan is attempting to discreetly investigate the historical files guarded by Frog Ledge’s prestigious historical guardian.
While this is a delightful series that celebrates the often over-indulgent whims of pet owners, the themes are surprisingly grounded and always moving. Stan’s frosty relationship with her socialite mother makes her revel in the supportive affection of her new Frog Ledge community. It’s also a town suspicious of newcomers, and Stan is continually warned of the danger of meddling in long-hidden secrets. As the town historian, Helga may have been the keeper of too much knowledge—even in a town where everyone seems to know everyone else’s secrets.
Ultimately, charming humor and a light tone prevail. Stan’s newest commission is to plan a wedding between a rescued Irish setter and a Shih Tzu. (Proper wedding attire will be required for the Valentine’s Day ceremony and reception for human and four-legged guests!) The attractive host of a ghost-hunting television show only complicates matters, especially since he’s investigating the home that Jake is renovating.
Stan, who lives her life with a personal musical soundtrack, proves to be an intelligent and relatable heroine whose animal family continues to grow with each mystery. By this third in the series, Stan’s Maine coon cat Nutty has been joined by Schnoodle Scruffy and gentle Pitbull Henry, and it looks as though Helga’s cat Benedict may be joining the household. Humans would be lucky to have the privilege of dining on the seared salmon, potatoes, cheese, and spinach meals Stan prepares for her furry clients, and readers can enjoy the more practical recipes included at the end. Intertwining plot twists all come together in an extremely satisfying conclusion, and this is a treat of a novel that skillfully blends realistic human motivations with respect and affection for animals.
Pets In Books
By Liz Mugavero
When I’m out at events supporting the Pawsitively Organic Mysteries, it’s clear that the animals in the books have their own fan base. People often have a story to share about one of their own pets–a Maine coon cat like Nutty, perhaps, or their rescue pup. And they want to know if my main character Stan Connor’s furry friends are based on real pets.
The answer is a resounding yes!
Nutty, Stan’s Maine coon, is based on my own cat Tuffy. For one thing, they’re both handsome Maine coon boys. Tuffy and Nutty also had similar beginnings. Nutty wandered into Stan’s life after an incident with a car left him injured. He ended up in Stan’s condo complex, where she found him, brought him to the vet and then adopted him. Tuffy was living in my neighborhood when we moved in, a stray looking for some good food. He also had a run-in with a car, after which he moved in permanently and became an indoor cat.
The premise of the series is gourmet pet food, which began with Nutty’s dietary problems (he suffers from Irritable Bowel Disease). Stan’s been cooking and baking for Nutty since he moved in, and never dreamt of doing it as her job. Until her “real” job was eliminated and she and Nutty moved to Frog Ledge, where the neighborhood animals are adept at sniffing out the good cooks, and just like that, a new career was born. Nutty couldn’t be happier with the career change. As for Tuffy, he had a touch of IBD, but he’s a picky eater. Nutty is much easier to feed and likes healthier choices.
Tuffy, however, is an author. He just had a short story published in the anthology Rescued: The Stories of 12 Cats, Through Their Eyes. He’s quite proud. And he has his own Facebook page. Nutty hasn’t achieved quite that level of stardom yet.Stan’s other furry friend, who shows up partway through Kneading to Die (the first in the series) and never leaves, is Scruffy the rescue schnoodle. Scruffy is based on my own rescue schnoodle, Shaggy. They both hail from South Carolina and were rescued from death row. They both arrived in New England on a transport van, and both now enjoy life in the north. Shaggy lives with more cats than Scruffy does–Stan’s got to catch up. She’s working on it, though. She seems to end up with a new animal companion in every book.
There are a lot of other animals in Frog Ledge. Most of them are animals I’ve known, either through my years in rescue or through friends. One of my favorite parts of writing this series is giving people the opportunity to meet these wonderful friends, and inspire people to rescue an animal or two of their own. And most of them don’t even demand that you cook for them, just that you love them unconditionally and welcome them into your family.
To enter to win a copy of Icing on the Corpse, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Icing,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen April 18, 2015. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address, and if via comment please include your email address.
Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & short stories in our mystery section.
Click on this link to purchase this book and you will be supporting an indie bookstore & a portion goes to help support KRL.