Pet groomers have to be prepared for surprises and deal with whatever the situation is. Fortunately, we rarely have to deal with as much as Cassie McGlone, the hero of Eileen Watkins’ mystery novel, The Persian Always Meows Twice. This book is the start of a series, and it has to be the first mystery series ever with a cat groomer as the detective.
It’s not a good start to Cassie’s day when she discovers one of her clients has been murdered. The only witness is his cat, Harpo — but like his namesake, he doesn’t talk. He also doesn’t have anywhere to go, and it could be a long time till the probate court decides who inherits him. Cassie arranges to board Harpo until the matter is settled, only to discover that some scheming relatives really want Harpo. It’s not because they’re cat lovers, so what is it they’re after? On top of all this, her abusive ex-boyfriend has moved into town.
But two things are clear about Cassie. First, she doesn’t like it when things don’t make sense to her. Second, there’s no temptation strong enough to make her endanger a cat’s welfare. Together, they mean that she gets into lots of trouble, but she gets out again. She’s a realist, even if there’s something of a crazy cat lady inside her.
Aside from being a nice example of the cozy mystery genre, the novel is an interesting look into the world of cat care. Watkins clearly knows her stuff. Some of the cats are as well-drawn as the human characters. Harpo is a charming Persian, but Stormy is quite a challenge to work with. Harpo once had a brother named Groucho, with a mustache to go with the name, but there’s a sad story behind that. A whole range of feline personalities shows up in the studio.
Fortunately, Cassie has a degree in psychology, which helps with the cats as much as with their humans. Unfortunately for her — but fortunately for the reader — she has a knack for asking uncomfortable questions. She really doesn’t set out to be an amateur detective; it just happens.
The book provides a glimpse into what it’s like to care for cats for a living. Some, like Stormy, are hard to handle, but experienced groomers have tricks to manage them. Some are experts at getting loose and heading for the door, but they can’t outwit Cassie. She’s especially good with the longhairs and manages to get their mats out even when they won’t cooperate. In extreme cases, she’ll resort to a lion cut. Only with the owner’s permission, of course. It grows back quickly enough.
Saying a lot about the mystery itself would be unfair, but it does tie closely to the feline aspects of the story. Harpo is never far from the center of controversy, and another cat becomes a hero in the hour of need. Everything ties nicely together by the end.
Even more cat mysteries
The series is already up to three books. In The Bengal Identity, a large brown cat brought in for boarding turns out to be a valuable Bengal show cat in disguise. In Feral Attraction, Cassie gets involved in a controversy over a feral cat colony. The series is set in New Jersey, where the winters aren’t kind to homeless cats. In each book, of course, there’s a murder to solve.
Our own lives aren’t that exciting, we promise. But if you love cats and enjoy reading fiction that really shows an understanding of them, you should give Watkins’ cat-groomer detective a try. All the books are available in paperback and Kindle editions.
If your own cats need grooming, we’ll take good care of them. Get in touch with us for details.