by Cynthia Chow
This week we have a review of the latest Catskills Pet Rescue Mystery by Deborah Blake and a behind the book interview with Deborah. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of the book, and a link to purchase it from Amazon.
Claws for Suspicion: A Catskills Pet Rescue Mystery By Deborah Blake
Review by Cynthia Chow
An odds-defying lottery win allowed Kari Stuart to escape her stagnated life as a waitress and move back to her hometown in the Catskills, where she found her purpose in buying a pet rescue animal sanctuary. Kari and her Serenity Sanctuary are in the middle of celebrating Oktoberfest when she has an unexpected, and unpleasant, confrontation with her ex-husband. Charlie Smith has come to Lakeview for his share of Kari’s lottery prize, claiming that their divorce paperwork was never finalized and that they are still legally married. Kari had thought that she had shed her bully of a spouse before her financial win, and the news that they are still tied is as shocking as Charlie’s plans for his half of her property.
Her hopes to mediate their future amicably are cut short when Charlie abruptly leaves, stating that he feels too unwell to discuss anything further. Kari isn’t sure what to think, and a call alerting her with the news that Charlie has been rushed to the hospital doesn’t help. Kari wanted nothing more than to be removed from Charlie’s emergency contact list, especially when it comes with the news that he has died from a suspected poisoning.
Having recently been on the site of far too many death scenes, the sheriff isn’t that surprised to find Kari again involved in one of his cases. Sheriff Dan Richardson is even less pleased to learn of her connection with the victim, her obvious motives for wanting him out of her life, and that his last meal was at her home. Kari would prefer to remain as far removed from her now-very-ex-husband, but the risk of losing her beloved Serenity, not to mention a guilt-enforcing plea from Charlie’s mother, has Kari looking into those who may have wanted their share of her wealth. That she is being guilted into investigating by the mother-in-law who still detests Kari – but perhaps a little less than the girlfriend who replaced her – is too ironic to be ignored.
This third in the series has Kari finally at a happy place in her life, which makes the reappearance of her ex so frustrating. His exit can’t come a moment too soon, although the threat of others looking to cash in on his possible wealth looms over Kari and her animal rescue. Her new boyfriend Angus McCoy remains steadfastly loyal and surprisingly rational during Kari’s spousal kerfuffle, especially when an early confrontation between the two men makes Angus a possible suspect as well. Kari’s friends and shelter staff are an engaging and supportive team for her, prioritizing the wellness of their animal charges while also reinforcing her choices in life. The importance of four-legged companions is as vital to the novel as the mystery, which leads to a tragic but still sympathetic and uplifting conclusion. Kari’s warmth and regard for others knows no boundaries, making her a heroine readers will cheer for as she rescues kitties, finds romance, and preserves the sanctity of her beloved home.
Behind the Book Interview with Deborah Blake:
KRL: How did you get the idea for Claws for Suspicion?
Deborah: I did a little bit of volunteer work for a local pet rescue organization that was started by one woman with a mission to save the animals that fell through the cracks and is run on a shoestring. One day while I was there washing endless food and water bowls and watching them do masses of laundry with a single set of secondhand machines, and thought, “What this place needs is for someone to win the lottery and give them the money!” So, in the Catskills Pet Rescue series, that’s exactly what happens.
KRL: Why did you want to include animal rescue in your series?
Deborah: All of my cats have come from shelters or some other form of rescue. Three of the five I have now, actually came from Super Heroes in Ripped Jeans, the animal rescue that inspired the series. I was amazed by how much work there was involved when I got a look behind the scenes, and I wanted to share a taste of that with the world. Besides, dogs and cats! What’s not to like?
KRL: How did you come up with your main character Kari Stuart?
Deborah: I wanted her to be just a regular person – a waitress who had had a series of dead-end jobs since getting out of a lousy marriage. When she won the lottery, she wanted to find something to do with the money that would give her life meaning and direction. When she found a little black kitten and tried to take it to a regular shelter, she discovered how much the Serenity Sanctuary needed help. Buying it gave her life purpose, and of course, she ended up keeping the kitten, Queenie, who has been bossing her around ever since.
KRL: What do you like best about writing this character and this series?
Deborah: The places in the book feel like places I’d like to hang out, and I enjoy all the characters too. I also like that “cozy” mysteries are like the comfort food of reading, and I think we all need that right now.
KRL: What kind of research did you have to do for this book?
Deborah: I knew how the murder victim was going to die, but I had to research the actual “murder weapon” which wasn’t a weapon in the conventional sense. I hope no one ever looks at my search history! I also had to look up some legal issues about divorce in New York State, among other things.
KRL: Do you have a certain number of books planned for this series?
Deborah: I don’t. My original contract was for three, and Claws for Suspicion is the third one, after Furbidden Fatality and Doggone Deadly. Whether or not the series goes on will depend on whether the book sells well enough. So, do tell all your friends!
To enter to win a copy of Claws for Suspicion, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “claws,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen May 21, 2022. 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.
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