featuring guest authors; crafting tips and projects; recipes from food editor and sleuthing sidekick Cloris McWerther; and decorating, travel, fashion, health, beauty, and finance tips from the rest of the American Woman editors.

Note: This site uses Amazon affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Monday, July 27, 2020

A COMMUNIST DOG, A RUSSIAN EMPRESS CAT & A SHAKESPEARE-QUOTING PARROT WALK INTO A MYSTERY


Manifesto AKA Mephisto AKA Devil Dog
Although the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries are technically not pet mysteries, the pets of Casa Pollack play an important role in many of the books. My author, Lois Winston, tells me that a good book needs both an interesting plot and interesting characters. And what makes characters interesting are their goals, motivations, and conflicts. Four-legged and winged characters are no different. Lois has seen to that! 

The Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries feature a cast of rather unique characters, including Lucille Pollack, my communist mother-in-law and leader of the thirteen octogenarian Daughters of the October Revolution. Manifesto is the commie’s French bulldog, named for The Communist Manifesto, a political treatise written in 1848 by German philosophers Karl Marx and Fredrich Engels. 

Given Lucille’s political leanings, you’d expect her to own a Russian Wolfhound, wouldn’t you? I really don’t know why she chose a French bulldog. We converse only when absolutely necessary. However, I suspect size was the main factor. Russian Wolfhounds are quite large, and prior to moving in with me and my family, Lucille lived in an extremely small apartment.

You know how pets often take on the personalities of their owners? This is definitely the case with Manifesto. As such, my sons and I have given the dog a few nicknames, alternating between Mephisto and Devil Dog. However, given that character growth is an essential part of most novels, Lois has allowed Manifesto to mellow over the course of the series. He’s gone from growling at us to tolerating us to preferring us over his mistress. Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? Whether this is due to age or objecting to Lucille’s smothering is uncertain, but the boys and I see it as a welcome change in disposition. Now if only Lucille would take her cues from her dog… 
Catherine the Great
Manifesto continues to have one nemesis, though. Catherine the Great is an overweight, pampered white Persian owned by my much-married mother Flora Sudberry Periwinkle Ramirez Scoffield Goldberg O’Keefe Tuttnauer. 

Mama is the former social secretary of the Daughters of the American Revolution and claims to trace her lineage back to Russian nobility on her mother’s side. Until recently, whenever she was between husbands, she’d move in with us. Whenever this occurs, due to the size of my home, Mama and Lucille are forced to share a bedroom. The two women get along as well as you’d expect a capitalist and communist to get along. Just like their pets, they fight like cats and dogs.

Ralph
The Casa Pollack menagerie is rounded out by Ralph, an African Grey Parrot with a penchant for quoting Shakespeare. I inherited Ralph from my great-aunt Penelope Periwinkle, a college professor and Shakespearean scholar who brought Ralph to all her lectures. Ralph doesn’t just quote the standard famous lines from the Bard of Avon, though. No “alas poor Yorick” or “friends, Romans, countrymen” for this bird. He has an uncanny knack for squawking situation-appropriate lines from any play or sonnet.

Because he’s potty-trained, Ralph has free rein of the house, much to the annoyance of both my mother and my mother-in-law. Manifesto and Catherine the Great don’t think very highly of him, either, but Ralph could care less. He looks down his beak at any species that can’t converse in English. And much to my amusement, Ralph has developed a “bromance” with my boyfriend, photojournalist (and possible spy) Zachary Barnes.

If you like your murders with a large dose of humor and a dash of fur and feathers, drop by for a visit sometime.

4 comments:

Vicki Batman, sassy writer of funny fiction said...

Good morning, Lois! Nice to meet your friends. I am not familiar with raising birds; so what does it mean when one is potty trained?

ANASTASIA POLLACK said...

Hi Vicki! The bird doesn't poop around the house when he's allowed out of his cage.

Morgan Mandel said...

Totally cute pets that obviously have character!

ANASTASIA POLLACK said...

Thanks, Morgan!