The Cat Sitter's Cradle by Blaize & John Clement is the eighth in the cozy mystery series featuring Florida pet sitter, Dixie Hemingway (available July 9, 2013).
Dixie Hemingway (no relation to you-know-who) is back! Dixie is a cat sitter on the gorgeous but sleepy Florida barrier island of Siesta Key. It was not so long ago that we talked about Dixie’s adventures in The Cat Sitter’s Pajamas. Now here she is in book number eight of the series, The Cat Sitter’s Cradle, written by Blaize and John Clement. And in case you’ve forgotten, I’ll let Dixie tell you exactly how she came to be a pet sitter who specializes in cats, but does sit the occasional dog, or bird or hamster.
Until about five years ago, I risked my life every day as a deputy sheriff, but after what you might call a bump in the road of life, I went a little nuts. Well, a lot nuts. The sheriff’s department and I came to a mutual agreement: I was too messed up to wear a sheriff ’s badge or carry a gun, and it was probably a good idea for me to take a break from law enforcement. That’s when I started my own pet-sitting business. Now that I’m somewhat socially acceptable again, I’m okay around guns, but I prefer working with animals to humans. Animals don’t let you down, and they’re always there when you need them.
One morning while walking Rufus, “a scruffy faced schnauzer” in the park, Dixie runs into her friend Joyce and together they find a brightly colored, but apparently dead, bird that Joyce is positive is a resplendent quetzal, a seriously endangered species. Joyce decides to wrap up the bird, take it home and turn it over to ornithologists at the local college. But when Rufus pulls hard on his leash, Dixie follows him into the bushes where they find a woman clutching a newborn baby. The woman seems frightened, confused and is clearly without health care
Joyce and Dixie decide to help the woman and her baby and bring them both to Joyce’s house, along with the dead bird, while they figure out what to do with all of them. In the midst of the chaos, the always reliable Dixie still makes her rounds visiting the pets presently in her charge.
One of the things I find most endearing about the Dixie Hemingway books is the relationship between Dixie and the various pets in her care. We travel around Siesta Key with her as she exercises dogs, feeds and plays with cats, and even takes care of assorted exotic fish swimming around a very buxom mermaid in a massive fish tank. Dixie just loves what she does. And I love going along from house to house with her while she does it.
But it isn’t long before eerie things start to happen. The dead bird magically revives. The mother and the new baby suddenly disappear. And Charlotte, a cat that lives in the house with the fish tank may be missing. Dixie finds Charlotte outside mourning her owner who is lying dead at the bottom of the family swimming pool.
Soon the mysteries of the bird, the new mother and the dead body are all interwoven, and Dixie is determined to sort out everything. And, hooray, in the midst of it all, there is real potential for a romantic relationship to bloom between Dixie and a really sweet and charming man who is not the least fazed by her propensity for getting into the thick of trouble and wending her way out again.
This is the eighth Dixie Hemingway novel and I found it just as fresh and appealing as the first. The people and the pets that populate Siesta Key continue to exude the zest and spirit that insures I’ll have a hankering for the next Cat Sitter book. If you’ve never read a Dixie Hemingway book, The Cat Sitter’s Cradle is a great place to start.
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According to Terrie Farley Moran, writing short mystery fiction is nearly as much fun as hanging out with any or all of her seven grandchildren. Her short story “Knowledge is Deadly” will appear in the November, 2013 issue of Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, due on newsstands around Labor Day. Terrie blogs at Women of Mystery and is presently writing the Read ’Em and Eat Café cozy series set in Fort Myers Beach, Florida.
Read all of Terrie Farley Moran’s posts for Criminal Element.