by Cynthia Chow
& Sparkle Abbey
This week we have another fun pet related mystery from Sparkle Abbey, along with a guest post from Sparkle about pets and their people in real life and in fiction. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of Downton Tabby, and a link to purchase a copy.
Downton Tabby By Sparkle Abbey
Review by Cynthia Chow
In Laguna Beach, California, registered pets outnumber children, making it the perfect location for Carolina “Caro” Lamont, a pet therapist who counsels problem animals at the request of their often-overindulgent human parents. Although recent events should have Caro accustomed to stumbling across a body or two, she’s unprepared when a trip to drop off her office neighbor’s cat results instead in the discovery of his business partner’s body.
Graham Cash and Jake Wylie made a fortune developing mobile apps, and with Jake dead and Cash missing, the absent owner of the adorable Scottish-fold tabby becomes the most likely suspect. As much as Caro is warned against investigating by exasperated police detective Judd Malone, an irritating news reporter, a pajama-wearing geriatric wannabe investigator, and the need to find Toria’s human all make Caro’s involvement inevitable.
A former beauty-pageant queen who walked out of the Miss Texas pageant, Caro had to rebuild her career after her husband cheated on her with a client and destroyed their practice. Now Geoffrey Carlisle seems intent on wedging himself back into her life, although this does more to threaten her sanity than it does her budding relationship with Greek mogul Sam Gallanos.
While the culprit may stand out to experienced mystery readers, the motive will not. What truly enhances the novel are the visits Caro makes to her clients, whose human owners are generally the ones who requiring retraining. A terroristic teacup Poodle, a Bichon Frisé with PSTD, a howling Beagle, and a rambunctious Saint Bernard all make for delightful–and extremely informative–examples of misguided humans. Just as engaging is the continual battle between Caro and her cousin Mel over their grandmother’s brooch, and the game of keep-away represents far deeper issues of love and remembrances
Authors Mary Lee Woods and Anita Carter once again have united as Sparkle Abbey to craft this very lively seventh installment of the series. Narrations shift between the cousins from book to book, but both women have lives that revolve around their love of pets. What the books share is the authors’ deep appreciation of animal companions, along with very healthy doses of humor and complicated romance. Caro is a charming heroine, and her love of good fashion is rivaled only by her concern for the mental health of the clients who are our true best friends.
People (Real and Fictional) and Their Pets
By Sparkle Abbey
What is it with all of us and our pets? This year the American Pet Products Association (APPA) estimates we will spend approximately $60.59 billion on our pets. According to them, 65% of US households own a pet. In case you were wondering that’s 79.7 million homes. Other stats tell us that includes 83.3 million dogs and 95.6 million cats. The numbers tell the story, we love our pets!
So is it any wonder that we’re also fascinated with pets in fiction? From Argos, in Homer’s Odyssey, who is arguably the most loyal of fictional canines and recognizes his master at once upon his return home–even though Odysseus is in disguise, all the way to Dorothy’s sidekick, Toto, in the Wizard of Oz, dogs have been making appearances in books for a long time. And cats? Well, of course, there’s the Cheshire cat in Alice in Wonderland, and T.S. Eliot’s wonderful cats in Old Possums’ Book of Practical Cats. And we can’t leave out the ever stylish Cat in the Hat who is not at all a sidekick, but rather a mischievous facilitator of adventure.
In recent times we’ve been enamored with four-legged characters like Fang, Hagrid’s hound from the Harry Potter series, and Carole Nelson Douglas’ feline PI, Midnight Louie, as well as the many, many mysteries with canine or feline stars and co-stars. A recent Goodreads list featured more than twenty different continuing series featuring dogs, and more than thirty cat-themed cozies. Again, the numbers tell the story – we not only love our real pets, we also love their fictional counterparts.
The best part is that researchers, looking at pet ownership, have found that our pets are good for us! The benefits are not just physical in terms of encouraging us to be more active, these furry family members also affect our mental health. A recently published university study (Miami University and Saint Louis University) found that pet owners were happier, healthier and better adjusted than were non-owners.
We pet owners have always known this though, haven’t we? We didn’t need the numbers – cat owners have a thirty-percent lower risk of heart attack, owning a dog can add ten years to your life. We’ve always known that these VIPs (Very important Pets) enrich our lives and make us better people. If they make us healthier and better adjusted in the bargain, well, that’s just an extra treat.
Interestingly, in one study, subjects who looked at photos of cute baby animals did better on tasks that required focused, attentive behavior (Hiroshima University). This, of course, makes us wonder about books with animals. Perhaps those fictional dogs and cats might also provide benefits. Maybe just reading about Fluffy and Fido can also improve our well-being. And, hey, if we cuddle up with our own cats and dogs snug on our laps while reading a cozy animal-themed story, that’s got to be a double dose of what the doctor ordered, right?
We think so.
To enter to win a copy of Downton Tabby, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Tabby,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen July 11, 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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