Eileen Watkins is a former newspaper reporter turned mystery writer. Her latest series is the Cat Groomer Mysteries. Learn more about her and her books at her website.
Cats and mysteries go together like tea and sympathy…or arsenic and old lace. Maybe that’s why cozies featuring felines have practically become a sub-genre these days.
When I set out to write the Cat Groomer Mystery series, I felt I needed a fresh approach. The basic premise helped, because I didn’t know of many cozy sleuths who worked with cats full-time for a living, as mine does. Cassie McGlone owns and operates Cassie’s Comfy Cats, a grooming and boarding establishment in the small town of Chadwick, N.J. Because this takes so much of her time and attention, I decided that every murder she investigates will involve felines in some way.
How could cuddly kitties possibly inspire so much mayhem? First, animals can provoke strong feelings in people, pro and con. Second, in today’s society especially, we love our pets like family members and may go to great lengths to protect them. Third, some show or breeding animals are valuable enough to be worth stealing, and any such theft can also carry the risk of violence. Fourth, cats themselves are mysterious and unpredictable, so they can conceal or reveal our secrets in surprising ways.
To keep my books realistic, I did preliminary interviews with groomers and visited their shops. I learned that cats require different grooming techniques than dogs, with special training involved. In fact, many “pet” groomers will not handle cats at all, considering them too temperamental! So there definitely would be a market for Cassie’s skills, but would it be enough to provide her with a decent living? The most successful cat groomer I talked to also ran a small boarding business, so I decided Cassie would, too. Again, I found that this filled a real need. Cats often don’t do well in kennels that also house dogs, because the canine smells and barking can make them too agitated.
Soon I saw that I could offer my readers something extra through my stories— little-known facts I’d learned about the nature and care of cats—along with an exciting whodunit.
In my first book, The Persian Always Meows Twice, I hoped to get out the message that if you don’t make provisions for your pets after your death, they could end up going to an animal shelter, or worse.
The Bengal Identity, the second and most recent book in the series, let me delve into the breeding of hybrid cats with “wild” origins, very popular today. I discovered that it can have a dark underbelly, though, appalling to any true animal lover.
Fall of 2018 will see the publication of Feral Attraction, which deals with the all-too-common issue of a feral cat colony causing problems for a residential community.
These situations can pit neighbor against neighbor…and in my book, the result is murder.
As you can see, the fur really flies in my feline-friendly series. Hope you’ll check it out!
The Bengal Identity
Book 2, A Cat Groomer Mystery
Everyone knows a leopard can’t change its spots, but can a thief hide the spots on a cat-napped Bengal? Groomer Cassie McGlone is about to find out…
With no ID for his pet, an agitated young man shows up at Cassie’s Comfy Cats claiming his house has burned down and he needs to board his big, brown cat, Ayesha. But after a bath washes dye out of the cat’s coat to reveal beautiful spots, Cassie suspects the exotic-looking feline may be a valuable Bengal show cat, possibly stolen. At the same time, there are rumored sightings of a vicious “wild cat” in the hills of Chadwick, New Jersey. Could there be a connection?
When Ayesha’s alleged owner turns up dead, it looks like whoever wants the lively Bengal isn’t pussyfooting around. Working with the police, Cassie and her assistant need to be careful not to reveal the purloined purebred’s whereabouts, while they discreetly make inquiries to cat breeders to find her real owner. But after a break-in attempt rattles Cassie’s cage, it’s clear someone let the cat out of the bag. And when a second body is found, it up to her to spot the killer, who may be grooming her to be the next victim.