Krista Davis is best known for her Domestic Diva series, mysteries I really enjoy. So, I was eager to pick up the first book in her Paws and Claws series, Murder, She Barked. Davis didn't disappoint me. With that title, you'd be right to expect a cozy mystery set in a small town, and a story featuring a dog. You'll just be surprised by the town itself and the number of dogs.
Holly Miller was already upset when she drove to Wagtail, Virginia in answer to a call from her grandmother's best friend. But, events take a strange turn when she picks up a stray dog, and is told the dog had been waiting for her. She couldn't leave the homeless, starving, and wet dog, so the two pile into the car, only to almost run down a man standing in the middle of the highway. He disappears, just in time for Holly to see a fire. When she finally arrives at the Sugar Maple Inn, she finds her grandmother, her Oma, with a sprained ankle suffered when she was hit by a car that killed one of Oma's employees. Once she learns why Oma was out, and that there were few cars used in Wagtail, Holly is suspicious. Was her grandmother actually the target of the killer?
Welcome to Wagtail, Virginia, where golf carts are the mode of transportation, and guests come to stay and bring their pampered pets. The entire town caters to dogs and cats, and Holly's Oma, Liesel Miller, was in the forefront of the movement. Her Sugar Maple Inn has been renovated to accommodate pets and their owners. Now, Holly has her own dog, an unusual dog that partners with the inn's cat to help Holly in her search for answers. With only one police officer in Wagtail, it's difficult for him to handle his first murder investigation. And, when Holly and her childhood best friend find another body, there are two deaths to investigate. Wagtail's in trouble, and Holly's determined that her Oma will not be the next victim of the killer.
Davis has created a charming little town with a unique character, a town that caters to pets. The town, and all of the dogs and cats are so entertaining that it's almost easy to forget about the murders. Small towns are perfect settings for cozy mysteries, though. The towns are rife with rumor, and sooner or later, even an outsider like Holly begins to tell the good guys from the bad guys.
If you're looking for quirky characters, wonderful animals, and a charming setting, you don't have far to look. When you have the time to settle in for a fun mystery, don't forget to pick up Krista Davis' Murder, She Barked.
Krista Davis' website is www.kristadavis.com
Murder, She Barked by Krista Davis. Berkley Prime Crime. 2013. ISBN 9780425262559 (paperback), 290p.
FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.