by Cynthia Chow
& Krista Davis
This week we have another fun post for mystery fans who love pets! We have a review of Murder, She Barked by Krista Davis, along with a guest post from Krista about how this new series came to be. Details at the end of this post on how to win a copy of Murder She Barked.
Murder, She Barked: A Paws and Claws Mystery By Krista Davis
Review by Cynthia Chow
Had Holly Miller not just recently resigned from her Washington D.C. job due to disagreements with her employers’ lack of ethics, the call to help her grandmother may not have had her immediately abandoning her boyfriend in the midst of his business trip. However, when her Oma’s best friend, Rose, tells Holly that she is needed, Holly doesn’t hesitate to return home to her hometown of Wagtail, Virginia, borrowing Ben Hathaway’s car, even if that means leaving him in the grasp of his former–and very wealthy–ex-girlfriend.
Holly’s homecoming is even more alarming than she had expected, as she encounters an adorably hitchhiking Jack Russell terrier, a ghostly figure and the nearby explosion of an SUV. This is all before she even arrives at her grandmother’s inn, which has unexpectedly become the Sugar Maple Inn for people and most especially, for their four-legged companions. Upon learning that, hours before her arrival, an employee had been murdered by a hit-and-run accident, Holly knows that she cannot leave anytime soon, especially with her beloved Oma frustratingly vague about her illness and a near victim herself. The crafty Oma and Rose have something up their sleeves, but they have mastered the art of distraction.
This is a mystery that could easily have ventured into the too-cute category. All furry guests of the Sugar Maple Inn receive collars with built-in GPS monitors, an employee declares herself to be an animal psychic/whisperer, pet masseuses and acupuncturists are available upon request and local businesses all have animal-themed names. The town bar is “The Hair of the Dog,” a candy and gift shop is called “Pawsitively Decadent,” a human clothing store is named “Houndstooth,” a pet couture shop is called “Putting on the Dog” and the Inn has a “Yappy Hour.” The town is called “Wagtail,” for heaven’s sake!
For a town where no one locks their door and electric golf carts are the transportation of choice, there seems to be an alarming amount of violence though, as burglaries, an assault on one of the guests and the murder of the dictatorial mayor all make a place where nothing happens quite eventful. A very rational and likable heroine and an expertly crafted plot keep the novel grounded and the characters never stray into becoming caricatures. Holly’s grandmother may complain that her granddaughter has become too “dry,” but it is Holly’s dry sense of humor and wry wit that actually make the novel so entertaining.
Author Davis has honed her cozy mystery writing skills through her Domestic Diva Mystery Series, and here she introduces animal themes without sacrificing well-written dialogue, fun characters and romantic complications that never go as the characters–or the readers–expect. A series of unintentionally hilarious texts from boyfriend Ben complicate her recent reunions with childhood friend and suspicious policeman, Dave Quinlan, and her former crush Holmes Richardson. What nearly all of the characters do share is a love and appreciation for their furry companions, ensuring that readers will enjoy this skillfully plotted mystery and its biting humor. (I couldn’t resist.)
Welcome to Wagtail Mountain
By Krista Davis
The family joke is that my first word was “am-ma-mal.” I’m sure that’s an exaggeration, but maybe not much of one! My love affair with everything furry began a long time ago. Readers of my Domestic Diva Mysteries have probably noticed that cats and dogs often play a role. They’re part of our families, so how could I possibly leave them out?
When my publisher asked me to write a second series in addition to the Domestic Diva Mysteries, I knew that a series involving animals would be a good fit for me. After all, my three dogs and two cats have trained me well.
About that time, I started hearing news about people traveling with their pets. Fancy five-star hotels even welcome pets now and offer special services for them, like bedtime treats, special meals and even doggie bathrobes. This isn’t an aberration. It’s a trend! The travel industry recognizes that we don’t like leaving Fido and Fluffy at home, so they’re making special accommodation for them. There are even camps and ranches where people can vacation with their dogs.
In the Blue Ridge Mountains where I live, there are spas where people used to go for the warm springs or the mineral waters; even Thomas Jefferson and his family traveled great distances to the spas. Some have long since been abandoned; others have to reinvent themselves. So I thought–what if a small town that once thrived on tourists had to find a new draw to bring people back, and so Wagtail was born!
The residents of Wagtail have made it the destination for people who want to travel with their furry family members. Dogs and cats are welcome in the restaurants; there are even special menus for them. Wagtail always had a large pedestrian zone in the center of town, and now the stores cater to dogs and cats with beds, collars, leashes, toys and all kinds of cat and dog items that appeal to their people. In addition, Wagtail became an electric golf cart community. No noisy traffic or gas fumes, instead there are hiking trails and other activities, including a daily Yappy Hour.
People keep asking me if I would like to live in a place like Wagtail. Of course! It’s a charming little town chock full of people who love their four-legged friends. Of course, there is the pesky occasional murder, but no place is perfect.
To celebrate the launch of Krista’s new series, her dogs are looking for dogs and cats to join their street crew. They’re giving away Murder, She Barked bandanas to dogs and cats. One lucky dog or cat who leaves a comment here today (it’s okay if their people leave comments for them) will win one, too! Photos of winners (hopefully wearing their new Murder, She Barked bandanas) will be posted on Krista’s website and on her Pinterest so your dogs and cats can share with their friends.
To enter to win a copy of Murder She Barked, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Barker,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen December 21, 2013. U.S. residents only.
Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & short stories in our mystery section.