I like romance as much as the next gal, but every once in a while I get a serious mystery jones. Probably my dormant blood-thirsty nature, but sometimes I just need to read about a dead body. So I took the weekend off review books to zip through Curiosity Killed The Cat Sitter by Blaize Clement. One of my e-mail loops will be discussing it next week, and I thought I would have no problem getting through it over the holiday weekend. I was right, I didn't
The Plot: Dixie Hemingway (no relation), is a 32-year-old widow still grieving over the death of her husband and young daughter. She had a bit of a meltdown, which led to her taking an indefinite leave of absence from the Sheriff's Department. Slowly working her way back into the land of the living, Dixie decides to become a professional pet sitter. Yeah, it's a real job - she's licensed, bonded, the whole shebang. She lives on Siesta Key a ritzy-snitzy (according to my sister who lives in Florida) island off the coast of Sarasota. People go on vacation, are out of town, or just want someone to groom their pets - so they hire Dixie. It's a job she likes, she doesn't have to deal with people, and she loves animals. Sounds perfect right? Well it is until she walks into a client's house one morning to find a man face down, dead, in the cat's water dish.
The Good: I love cozy mysteries, but even I have to take them in small doses. Sometimes you read a cozy and you think, "I'm trapped in Stepford!" I like my characters to behave believably, and sometimes that tends to get lost in cozies. "Well fiddly-dee there's another dead body! So much for going to the Cherry Blossom Festival!"
Clement doesn't fall into this trap. For a cozy, this book has dark moments. Dixie is still surrounded by her grief, and the way she lost her husband and child is really heartbreaking. Also, the crime sounds "cutesy" (drowning in a cat's water dish?), but trust me, it has the necessary edge that a dead body would entail. I wouldn't go so far as to call this book dark - but it is darker than your average cozy.
I also liked the first person narration, Dixie, and the fact that this book has the least stereotypical gay couple I have ever read in any sort of book. What a nice, breath of fresh air they were.
The Bad: A few minor quibbles here. First, this one falls under my own person taste - Clement likes descriptive paragraphs. These are short (no 25-pages describing trees for instance), and while it serves to give the reader a nice since of place, I felt it slowed down the momentum of the story. This is my own personal "thing," so take that with a grain of salt.
I wanted more interaction between Dixie and the major players/suspects in the crime. There's some, but I think there could have been more.
Final Verdict: I read this book in less than 24 hours, so that's usually an indication that I liked it quite a bit. I've already requested the second book in the series, Duplicity Dogged The Dachshund from work. I know we got an ARC in, but it looks like someone stole it before I could. Damn them. Oh well, I'll just have to wait for a "real" copy. Final Grade = B.