Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Mission Impawsible (A Paws & Claws Mystery)

Author:  Krista Davis
Genre:  Mystery

Mass Market Paperback; Audio CD; Ebook; Audible
ISBN #:  9781101988565; 9781515959106
Berkley Publishing
304 Pages
$7.99; $29.99; $7.99 Amazon
February 7, 2016


Holly and her grandmother, Oma, are working their tails off to prepare the Sugar Maple Inn for an upcoming matchmaking event for pet owners.  While Holly has no interest ion pairing up, Oma plans on playing Cupid and finding someone to warm her reluctant granddaughter's heart.

Unfortunately, one man Holly does meet is cold - dead cold - and he has a personal letter from Oma in his pocket.  As suspicion is cast over the inn's guests, Holly - with the help of her furry friends, Trixie the Jack Russel and Twinkletoes the cat - must fetch the real killer, or she may soon have a date in court.


Holly Miller co-owns the Sugar Maple Inn in Wagtail, Virginia along with her grandmother Oma.  Right now they are preparing for an influx of people to a scheduled event called Animal Attraction.  The reason for the event in pet-friendly Wagtail is to match pet owners with other pet owners by matching their animals.  The organizer for the event, Macon Stotts, is a professional matchmaker with a good success rate, and he prides himself on that.

However, the first night of the event Holly and Oma are confronted by a pretentious man who insists that there is no such thing as love and insists Macon is a fraud.  They both take an instant like to the man who soon leaves.  But things are about to become more interesting when Holly's employee Zelda's ex-husband Hank shows up looking for her, and Holly meets an engaging man named John Adele with an even more engaging yellow lab named Cooper.

John thinks he's been matched with Holly, and even when she denies it he manages to get her to agree to go for a walk, so Holly, John and their pets (Cooper and Trixie, a Jack Russell) are having a nice night when Trixie suddenly runs off with Holly and John in hot pursuit.  It is then they find the dead body of the disagreeable man from the inn.  When it's later learned that he was to be a guest at the inn, Holly is puzzled - why would a man who hates animals and thinks love doesn't exist sign up in the first place?  

Holly soon discovers that the dead man had more enemies than friends, and some of them are staying at the inn.  She also finds that John's avoiding her, and her ex-boyfriend Ben shows up, ostensibly to join the event (which Holly finds suspicious because he doesn't like animals).  What started out as something fairly simple - a matchmaking week - soon turns into something more sinister when a second body turns up and that just might leave Holly with a match made of murder...

This book was a pure pleasure to read.  It is indeed a lighthearted mystery, one that weaves together humorous animal antics with murder and intrigue.  The setting is unique in that an entire town is pet-friendly, nestled in the mountains of Virginia, a true getaway for the animal lover within.  The people are endearing characters - even Ben, who hasn't had a lot experience with animals but goes to great lengths to remedy the situation.  I challenge anyone not to fall in love with at least one of the little buggers, delightfully described by Ms. Davis.  She gives warmth to her characters, both human and animal, that make them believable and convincing.  These are people one would enjoy spending time with on a lazy afternoon.

When we come to the end, and discover the identity of the killer, it is a satisfying conclusion.  While the clues aren't overt, they are there; and you discover that sometimes when you know someone you might not know them at all.  This is the fourth book in the Paws & Claws mysteries, and quite a welcome addition to the series.  If you haven't read the first three, I suggest you do so soon and get to know Holly and her friends and family from the very beginning.  You won't be disappointed.

Ms. Davis has proven herself as a skilled storyteller, able to entwine several subplots together admirably, engaging the reader in the first pages and holding their attention throughout the book easily; filled with lovable characters and wonderful descriptions of a town anyone would like to visit time and again.  Highly recommended.

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