by Cynthia Chow
& Eileen Brady
This week we have the honor of bringing to you a debut mystery by veterinarian Eileen Brady. Eileen’s first book Muzzled features a vet which seemed a great fit for us here at KRL. We also have a great guest post from Eileen about how and why she chose to make her main character a veterinarian as well. Details at the end of this post on how to win a copy of Muzzled & a link to purchase it as well.
Muzzled: a Kate Turner, DVM, Mystery By Eileen Brady
Review by Cynthia Chow
Spending a year as a veterinarian in upstate New York Oak Falls Veterinary Hospital seemed to be the perfect solution for Meryl Streep lookalike Kate Turner. Kate spent nearly eight months mooning over her boss as he was going through his divorce, only to have to endure his impregnating and then proposing to their twenty-something receptionist.
Kate decided it was best for her mental health to escape from New York City and accept a position as a house-call making vet in the tiny Oak Falls town while the resident Doc takes off for a year-long world cruise. It meant living in his tiny furnished apartment attached to the clinic and essentially taking orders from the office manager, but it was a great opportunity for Kate to pay off some of her student loans while practicing the medicine she loved on patients she adores.
What wasn’t so great was discovering the bodies of Thomas and Vivian Langthorne while on a call to check out the prize-winning Cavalier King Charles spaniels bred in their Lucky Eight Kennel. Which, it turns out, wasn’t so lucky. The police initially declared it a murder-suicide, but with the small-town suspicion falling on strangers–Kate being the most noticeable–and with the Langthornes hated by nearly everyone, Kate can’t help but believe that it was a case of murder.
Kate doesn’t set out to intentionally investigate the deaths, but when she witnesses the shooting of Maybelle Guzzman at a dog show and the gun is discovered in Kate’s bag, she feels the noose circling her own neck. The Langhorne’s were planning on not renewing the leases on the many properties they owned, leaving store owners at the precipice of closing down and firing their employees. More accessible paths of investigation for Kate are that Maybelle was a competitor with a weakening line of show Cavalier King Spaniels, and the champion and extremely valuable Charles Too Cavalier being sold by the Langhorne’s daughter Pippi, seems to be a ringer. That Pippi herself could also be an imposter is just as perplexing and another avenue to pursue.
Veterinarian Eileen Brady debuts this mystery series after winning Poisoned Pen Press’s second annual 2013 Discover Mystery Contest. It’s both a brilliant discovery and a deserving win, as Brady creates such a charmingly vulnerable, very real voice for her heroine. Kate does not set out to investigate a murder, but considering that evidence seems to be pointing at her and that her emergency veterinarian kit awkwardly resembles that of a serial killer’s-duct tape, syringe, needles, epinephrine–Kate can’t stop from asking questions. Kate is entirely relatable as she pines for the obliviously self-centered “Dr. Perfect,” so it is wonderfully satisfying to see her finally move on.
Just as fascinating are the details of a veterinarian’s life, with the daily duties as interesting as the absurdities. Hamsters in vacuums, scrub pants for fashionable Chihuahuas, obese Beagles; all aspects are equally entertaining. Readers will love being immersed in this world where show dogs are treated like supermodels, four-legged babies are as coddled as any two-legged, and a party where the dress code for guests has them donning not “coat and tails” but just a tail. Subtle humor, a very likable heroine, and a strongly written mystery with a completely surprising ending highlight the talent of this new author with an extremely promising future.
Combining Veterinary Medicine With Mystery
By Eileen Brady
After twenty years as a veterinarian I had plenty of great stories I wanted to tell. My problem was what kind of book to write?
Whenever I took a study break in veterinary school I read mysteries, preferably Agatha Christie. I didn’t just read them once. My paperbacks got dog-eared from being read over and over, as I concentrated on how the author set up her clues to solve the murder. The who-done-it format seemed like a natural when I decided to write my book Muzzled, A Kate Turner, D.V.M. Mystery. My goal was to give readers a smart heroine, have some fun with clients and their pets, and mix my plot with real veterinary medicine.
Dr. Kate Turner, my lead character, is one clever cookie. She’s taken a relief vet position in upstate New York, near the Hudson Valley, after an interoffice romance went sour. The veterinary hospital she works for does house calls, so she gets a first-hand look into the lives and homes of her clients. Unfortunately, at one of her house calls, she stumbles upon what looks like a murder-suicide. But something doesn’t add up. The elderly couple’s twenty-four show dogs are running loose in the house, something they never allowed.
Small towns being what they are, all of Kate’s house call patients the next day want to hear about the murder. Each one has an opinion on what happened, some helpful, but most just a bevy of red herrings. When the Chief of Police starts concentrating on her as a suspect, Kate decides to find out who the real murderer is. Can she trust the cat-loving biker who bakes or the accountant whose pet parrot frequently rides around in her décolleté. I won’t tell you the answer to that question, but trust me I took a hint from the master herself, Agatha Christie, and seeded the book with very subtle clues.
I enjoyed writing my main character, Kate, and as a veterinarian myself, I made sure to pack in plenty of examples of what working at a veterinary hospital is all about, not just for the doctor, but also for the technicians and receptionists. I even include a monthly staff meeting, which winds up being pretty funny (Let’s just say there’s a lot of pizza involved.)
A deep love and respect for animals is a running theme in my book. Interestingly, a number of people have contacted me to say the veterinary advice in the book has helped them and their real life pets. One reader recognized the symptoms of one of Kate’s patients. Her cat was doing the same thing. Sure enough, both my fictional cat and her kitty had feline hyperthyroidism. I can’t tell you how happy it made me feel to not only entertain but also to help someone through my work.
The next book in the series, tentatively titled Unleashed, will have more adventures in store for Dr. Kate, including an itchy potbellied pig and an encounter with some very nasty geese. If you’d like to read an excerpt from Muzzled, please go to my website at www.eileenbradymysteries.com. I’ll be at the Poisoned Pen Bookstore in Scottsdale, Arizona on June 21, 2014. If you’d like me to sign a copy of Muzzled, just contact the bookstore and I’ll be happy to oblige.
To enter to win a copy of Muzzled, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Muzzled,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen May 31, 2014. U.S. residents only.
Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & short stories in our mystery section.