I'm a big fan of Blaize Clement's Dixie Hemingway mysteries, so I couldn't wait until release date today. After living in Florida for eighteen years, the Siesta Key setting is comfortable. And, there's all of the wonderful animals in these books. But, it's Clement's strong characters, beginning with Dixie, that make these some of my favorite mysteries. The latest one, Raining Cat Sitters and Dogs, is one of the strongest books in the five book series.
Dixie was a deputy with the Sarasota County Sheriff's Department until her life was destroyed in one day, with the tragic death of her husband and daughter. After she lost her mind, and her job, she became a pet sitter on Siesta Key, a barrier island off of Sarasota. She lives in the garage apartment next to the house shared by her brother Michael, a firefighter, and his partner, Paco, an undercover detective. Both before her marriage, and after, Michael was the stable one in her family, since their father died, and their mother ran off. Dixie was a troubled teen, so she identifies with lost teens.
Put together a young teen and an injured animal, and Dixie's heart is gone. While picking up one of her charges at the vet's, an African Grey parrot named Big Bubba, she meets Jaz, a girl who brings in an injured rabbit. Dixie and Hetty, a friend who raises service dogs, both think there's something odd about Jaz' relationship with her stepfather, but it's Hetty who offers to let Jaz help with her puppy. Unfortunately, it's Dixie who hears about Jaz from an unexpected source, three gang members who show up when she's tending Big Bubba, threatening Dixie with a switchblade, and asking for Jaz. And, Lieutenant Guidry, the homicide detective Dixie is interested in, thinks Jaz might know something about a murder. It's too bad Jaz disappears.
Dixie is always vulnerable when it comes to stories that remind her of her own past, so when a former high school friend shows up, frantic for help when her husband is kidnapped, Dixie reluctantly agrees to help. Is it any wonder that Dixie's brother, Michael, worries about her, when she talks about missing teens, gang members, murder, switchblades, kidnappings and ransom? Is this the life of a normal pet sitter? Clement cranks up the tension as Dixie digs her way into more trouble.
Blaize Clement has a knack for creating interesting characters, both human and animals. Big Bubba and a recurring character, the greyhound Billy Elliot, are just as interesting as Dixie's friend Cora. And, Hetty and Jaz are wonderful together. I'd recommend readers start with the first book in the series, Curiosity Killed the Cat Sitter. It won't be long before you'll want to get to book five, Raining Cat Sitters and Dogs. Dixie Hemingway will draw you into her life in Siesta Key, too.
Blaize Clement's website is www.blaizeclement.com
Raining Cat Sitters and Dogs by Blaize Clement. St. Martin's Minotaur, ©2010. ISBN 9780312369569 (hardcover), 304p.
FTC Full Disclosure - Review copy sent by the publisher, in hopes I would review it.