by Cynthia Chow
& Laura Morrigan
This week we have the latest Call of the Wilde Mystery by Laura Morrigan. We also have a fun guest post from Laura about writing about exotic animals in her books. At the end of the post are details on how to win a copy of A Tiger’s Tale, and a link to purchase the book as well–with a portion going to help support KRL.
A Tiger’s Tale: A Call of the Wilde Mystery By Laura Morrigan
Review by Cynthia Chow
“So far, I’d slogged through the muddy woods, streaked through the mall in pursuit of a juvenile delinquent, struck a deal with the mob, staked out a misogynist, and questioned a cougar, a tiger, a tabby cat, and a donkey.”
The warning posted outside of the Happy Asses Donkey and Big Cat Rescue – There are wild animals inside this gate. If one of them eats you, it’s your own fault – is unfortunately both true and false, as veterinarian and animal behaviorist Grace Wilde has been called to the wild animal rescue shelter to rescue the normally very competent vet Dr. Hugh Murray. Treed by the unusually cranky tiger Boris, Hugh has requested Grace’s aid for her astounding ability to calm and control all types of creatures. What few know is that Grace is gifted with an ability to sense the emotions and communicate telepathically with animals, a talent that not only calms down the big cat but informs her that part of the reason for his anger was his witnessing a teenaged volunteer being taken away against her will.
With a tiger as the only witness to a possible kidnapping, Grace is unable to get an official investigation without looking like a lunatic. Grace finally shared her secret with crime scene investigator Kai Duncan, but even his hands are tied considering that the missing girl’s family has written Brooke off as a runaway. Having felt like an outsider who relates better to animals than humans all her life, Grace feels a connection to Brooke and will do all she can to help the troubled girl.
Grace is one of the most enjoyable, likable, and unique heroines in mystery fiction. She takes sarcasm and cynicism to a new level, and, to put it mildly, has severe trust issues. Grace’s belief that all humans are untrustworthy was fulfilled when the love of her life left skid marks after learning about her gift. It shouldn’t be too surprising that her relationship with crime scene investigator Kai Duncan has been moving glacially. It’s not helped by their having cancelled more dates than they’ve ever completed.
Grace’s professional party-planning sister Emma provides a connection to the outside world, and she pushes Grace to interact with humans without being insensitive or unsympathetic. In fact, Emma’s past as an abused wife provides Grace with insight into Brooke’s life and adds an added dimension to all of the characters.
The previous debut novel of this series, Woof at the Door, was one of my favorite new mysteries, and I’m thrilled that the author has continued to incorporate her humor, originality, and affection for animals. Whether negotiating with bats to fly over a vampire-themed wedding or mediating between combative cats, Grace uses her abilities to help animals fit in with their uncomprehending humans. Despite Grace’s more-than-human talent, the novel always feels surprisingly realistic and confronts dark topics without ever being too morose. The relationships between Grace, Kai, and Emma are absolutely fascinating and entertaining to observe as Grace confronts her very understandable trust issues and slowly begins to allow outsiders into her life.
Use this link to purchase the book & a portion goes to help KRL.
Writing About Exotic Animals
by Laura Morrigan
Just about all writing involves research and, on some level, understanding. For my work on the Call of the Wilde Mysteries, which follow Grace Wilde, an animal behaviorist who is also a telepath, I focus on learning as much as I can about the animals in my books.
Try as I might, I always feel a little behind and overwhelmed by this task.
It’s true– in the past, I worked with all kinds of critters. But it’s been years since I’ve spent extensive time around exotic animals. I can’t hope to rely on memory alone to supply me with the insight I need to write about them. So, in an attempt to augment my knowledge, I do all manner of research. I watch documentaries on animals, (Planet Earth, anyone??) skim video clips from YouTube and read as much as I can. When possible, I do hands-on research.
I know, it’s a tough job, right?
On one of my recent forays to YouTube, I came across a clip of Kevin Richardson a.k.a., The Lion Whisperer. Aside from being an inspiring fifteen minutes of film, offering a different perspective on lions and hyenas, one thing caught my attention.
Mr. Richardson was talking about hyenas and the fact that he’d only been studying them for thirteen years and, therefore, had only begun to scratch the surface of understanding their behavior.
I thought, Yes!
This applies to other animals as well. A house cat can be just as enigmatic as a jaguar.
I found that observation is essential to understanding an animal’s behavior along with the willingness to neither objectify nor anthropomorphize.
When a dog doesn’t act like a human by, say, refraining from rolling in offal, some of us are surprised or even offended. Others think of an animal as a piece of property, devoid of emotion or real cognitive function.
The truth is, animals are beautiful, mysterious, frightening, and perfect. If we can learn to watch– seek to understand, maybe one day we will.
And wouldn’t that be something?
To enter to win a copy of A Tiger’s Tale, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Tiger,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen June 7, 2014. U.S. residents only.
Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & short stories in our mystery section.