As most site readers are probably aware, once a month I seek out and reread (or read for the first time, in some cases) a particularly popular and recommended Cozy series by a site author. Well, this month, I’m doing something a bit less common, and revisiting an author that I’ve already discussed once before. I just finished reading Murder, She Barked, the first in Krista Davis‘s Paws and Claws Mystery Series.
If you don’t remember me covering Krista Davis before, I don’t blame you – it’s been quite a while, back in this 2016 post on the Domestic Diva Mystery Series. (Wow, has it really been that short a time ago? It sure does feel like a lot longer!)
As is traditional in modern Cozies, this particular series starts with the soon-to-be sleuth on a bit of a losing streak. Holly Miller is on her way to her grandmother’s inn, the Sugar Maple Inn, in Wagtail, Virginia, having received a troubling phone call indicating medical trouble for her grandmother. Holly had just left a job over ethical reasons a week ago, and as the closest relative to her grandmother geographically, it made the most sense for her to go. Though she starts the novel with a seemingly-reliable if uninspiring boyfriend, it isn’t hard to tell that there is trouble brewing on the horizon for that particular relationship. The only upside is that she’s picked up a passenger at a gas station a few hours out of Wagtail – a Jack Russell terrier that seemed to be waiting for her.
Things become even less pleasant as she continues on her way – Holly witnesses an exploding car on the way into Wagtail, and shortly after her arrival at her grandmother’s inn, an employee staggers in shortly after her, claiming to have jumped on his way in through the side door. This isn’t the only danger to befall the employees of the Sugar Maple Inn – several hours before her arrival, one of the other employees had been killed in a hit-and-run car accident. The only upside is that she learns that her grandmother’s health problem isn’t immediately serious – she had been with the employee who had been killed, and she had only suffered a sprained ankle. Suffice to say, with so many questionable events going on, Holly quickly finds reason to investigate around town.
There have also been a number of changes, both in Wagtail and in the Sugar Maple Inn, the former of which has expanded significantly as a tourist destination, and the latter of which is now serving as a pet resort destination. Holly finds that she’ll be joined by another animal roommate – a calico cat named Twinkletoes.
Most Cozies have a decided niche, and this one is definitely pets – and that’s a great Cozy category by my book! Both Twinkletoes and the Jack Russell are lively and interesting presences, and as an animal lover myself, I was definitely glad to see their appearance. The book also includes some recipes at the end – it isn’t as much of a culinary novel as many other Cozies are, but it’s still a nice touch to see. Going with the animal theme, it does include a couple suited for dogs, and notes for what is definitely not for animals, such as a goulash that includes onions.
If you’re interested in seeing some of the other entries I’ve written on the other highly recommended Cozy Mystery series in these previous write-ups, you can find them at the Most Recommended Cozy Mystery Series page on my site.