07 April 2009

Review: Curiosity Killed the Cat Sitter by Blaize Clement

Curiosity Killed the Cat Sitter is the first entry in the Dixie Hemingway mystery series by Blaize Clement.

Dixie Hemingway's life in the Sarasota, Florida's sheriff department ended on the day her husband and daughter were killed in a tragic accident. Dixie returns to her nearby childhood home of Siesta Key to find some peace and to try to reengage in life. Three years later, she is feeling strong and happy in her new career as professional pet sitter. Her apartment is on property that was once owned by her grandparents, and her brother and his partner live across the drive in the big house.

Dixie's peaceful life is interrupted the morning she enters Marilee Doerring's house to feed her cat, Ghost. Instead of being greeted by a hungry kitty, Dixie finds a dead man in the kitchen and the rest of the house ransacked. After making a quick check around the house, she grabs the cat and runs outside to call 911. Thus the former deputy is brought back into the world of crime.

There is much to like about this series debut and Dixie Hemingway. Although Dixie has experienced unimaginable personal loss, she is not someone to pity. She has found a way of life that suits her, she is close to her brother and his partner, she is connected to her community, and she loves pets and her job. Clement has done a great job of balancing Dixie's sadness with her strength so we can empathize without feeling sorry for her.

It is easy to picture the people Dixie runs into in Siesta Key. This is a first in series, so there are lots of characters we have to meet: Dixie's family, the members of the police department, the waitress at the diner, and Dixie's longstanding clients. All are characters we look forward to seeing again. Clement also does an great job developing the individuals specifically related to the murder.

It's a given that a book about a pet sitter would feature dogs and cats. The good news is that Clement manages to use the animals as a foil to the darker aspects of the novel without getting cutesy. I'm sure the book would be considered a cozy mystery, but don't expect to find a budding romance or fun family life in the background. Dixie uses adult language, and we see the grittier parts of the murder scene. Underlying issues that may or may not be related to the mystery include sex, adultery, blackmail, a gay lifestyle, medical malpractice, and the nasty side of evangelical Christianity.

My principal criticism is that I figured out several pieces of the plot fairly easily, which I often find annoying in a mystery. However, I did not work out all the details, and there were still surprises at the end. The series has potential, and I'm planning on reading more about Dixie Hemingway's adventures in pet sitting.

I listened to this book on audio read by Julia Gibson, who did a fine job with pacing and distinguishing characters.

Print published by St. Martin's Press, 2007
Audio published by Recorded Books
ISBN-13: 9780312941925
Challenges: New Author, Support Your Library, Themed Reading, 999, Audiobooks, Spring Reading, 100+, Cozy Mystery
YTD: 28
Rating: B-


Margot 4/7/09, 10:25 AM  

Using dogs and cats as the foil is an interesting concept for a mystery. Sounds like the author threw in plenty of social issues to make it interesting. Thanks for another good review.

Nicole (Linus's Blanket) 4/7/09, 10:25 AM  

This sounds like it would appeal to me as a lighter read. I've been looking for some mysteries.

Julie P. 4/7/09, 10:36 AM  

Every once in awhile I enjoy a light little mystery! Thanks for the review.

Anonymous,  4/7/09, 1:20 PM  

I love the title. I hate figuring out the plot before the characters. Always pulls me out of the story. :o(

bermudaonion 4/7/09, 1:23 PM  

I do like figuring out whodunit, but not too early in the book. I don't like it when they reveal that it was a secondary character with very little clues.

Whitney 4/7/09, 4:31 PM  

This looks like a fun read. I think I'll have to read some of this series for my cozy mystery challenge. Thanks for your review!

Sandy Nawrot 4/7/09, 4:39 PM  

Hmmm...I could enjoy this I think. I love animals, and the setting is fairly local for me, which always endears me to a story. I hate it when I figure out the plot, but I may still give it a chance, if I happen upon it!

Melody 4/7/09, 8:09 PM  

I don't think I've read anything by this author yet. I love a good mystery so I might have to check this out. Thanks for the great review, Beth!

Anonymous,  4/7/09, 11:37 PM  

what a coincidence!! i just drove down(from NJ) to visit my parents and they live about 15 miles from siesta key! i love reading books that take place in real locations that i know. thanks for the tip to this mystery series!

Bernadette 4/7/09, 11:52 PM  

Sounds like a decent 'cosy' so thanks for the review as they're not that easy to find. I've noted down this one.

Pam 4/8/09, 1:12 AM  

It sounds like a really cool series but I am in the middle of so many series right now sometimes I feel like my head might explode trying to remember when the next is coming out and when to buy this and that. I may let this one get a few books out before I make the jump. Thanks for reading and sharing!

Ladytink_534 4/8/09, 9:56 AM  

This sounds awfully familiar for some reason but I'm positive that I haven't read it before. Not a typical cozy mystery but it does sound like a good one!

Literary Feline 4/9/09, 5:23 PM  

I am really looking forward to reading this one. It's on my cozy mystery challenge list. :-)

Unknown 4/10/09, 8:20 AM  

Sounds like a good one, I'll have to add it to my list.

Harvee 4/28/09, 12:54 PM  

I've read this one and love petsitter mysteries. I've got two others I've reviewed you might be interested in at http://bookbirddog.blogspot.com/search/label/pet%20sitter%20mystery

Beth F 4/28/09, 1:00 PM  

Book Bird: Thanks! Always glad to be directed to new books and reviews.

petsitter 4/30/09, 10:24 AM  

A great review, that made me read this book.

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