Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Cat Sitter's Whiskers (Dixie Hemingway Mysteries)

Author:  John & Blaize Clement
Genre:  Mystery

Five Stars

Pet sitter Dixie Hemingway is on the prowl again in the newest installment of Blaize Clement's classic and beloved series of cozy mysteries, now written by her son, John Clement, using Blaize's notes and ideas for future adventures.

Set in the sleepy beach-side town of Siesta Key, Florida, The Cat Sitter's Whiskers catches up with Dixie as she heads off for work one morning in the dimly lit hours before sunrise.

Her very first client of the morning is Barney Feldman, a Maine coon cat with a reputation for mischief who's guarding his vacationing owner's valuable collection of decidedly creepy antique masks.  But someone's hiding in the house when she arrives, and they sneak up and knock her out cold.  When the cops arrive at the house, there's just one problem:  no one has broken in and nothing is missing.

Searching for answers, Dixie soon finds herself hopelessly trapped in a murky world of black market antiques, dark-hearted secrets, and murderous revenge...a mystery only she can solve.  

********

Dixie Hemingway, ex-police officer turned pet sitter, is beginning her morning rounds when she notices the car of a school friend parked in front of her house.  Not really alarmed, she knows that Levi now delivers the morning papers, and doesn't give it another thought.  And when she arrives at her first destination, the Kellers' she soon locates their cat, Barney Feldman, and proceeds to feed him.  All seems well - at first.  When she returns from taking the cat food can to the trash, she is confronted by someone wearing one of Mrs. Keller's prized masks - and then everything goes dark, as she is struck on the head.  Waking once, and not believing what she sees - lit candles and the patio doors open - she passes out again, and when awakened for a second time, calls the police and reports it, only to have her story met with skepticism.

When she decides, on a hunch, to go to Levi's and see if he was indeed following her, she is met with an antagonistic woman named Mona, who who threatens her.  And when she opens Levi's door, she finds him dead, lying in a pool of his own blood.  The woman passes out, Dixie calls the police again, and our story begins.

What we have is indeed a tangled tale of greed and murder.  And nothing is quite exactly as it seems.  While Dixie is trying to figure out if she indeed saw at the Kellers' what she imagined she did, she's also trying to figure out exactly what kind of woman Mona is, and who would want to kill Levi, and why.  We soon discover that there is something that was in Mrs. Keller's possession that has been causing all the trouble, something Dixie herself took possession of and delivered, but it didn't end there.

She is also living in her own past - still struggling with the five-year-old death of her husband Todd and daughter Christy in a car accident; and not quite able to reconcile that with her present - her new love Ethan, with whom she has feelings for, but is not willing to explore the relationship any more than they have, and be anywhere else than where they are now.  Two factions warring within themselves, neither of which is winning, and we see only glimpses of what Dixie had or what she envisions for her future.

When the truth about Levi, Mona, and what Dixie delivered is finally rolled out, it makes for an interesting story indeed, and one that is as intriguing to read as it is enjoyable.  Highly recommended.


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