Some mysteries feature pets, others feature pets who solve the mystery, and a few are actually critter-free. Read ahead to see which categories the Chicks’ mysteries fall into. See who’s committed to including creatures and who’s on the fence—or the hydrant—about it.
I’m a dogophile. Dogaholic? Bottom line: I’m crazy about dogs. In fact, I made eventually having a dog the make-or-break in any relationship. No doggy, no me. Dogs soothe me. As I tell my husband, “It’s the dogs or Prozac.” Given my canine obsession, it’s only logical that I honor our pooches through literature. The Crozat family in my mystery, Plantation Shudders, parent a basset hound inspired by our late dog, Lucy, who has now been immortalized on the book’s cover. (Notice I said “parent,” not “own.” Yep, that’s how nuts I am on this topic.) I upped the ante in the manuscript for the next book in my “Cajun Country” series; Maggie, my protagonist, finds litters of both kittens and puppies, along with their cat and dog moms. The cat and kittens aren’t based on personal experience, but the mother dog looks amazingly like one of our current rescues, Pogo, an overly-confident chihuahua mix.
My only pet conundrum is that I paid homage to our other rescue, Wiley—who may be the doggy love of my life—in my manuscript, You Can Never Be Too Thin or Too Dead, which has yet to sell. I feel badly for Wiley, like his feelings will be hurt if he’s the only unpublished pet.
Maybe I should amend my opening statement and say that when it comes to dogs, I’m more than crazy about them. I am just plain crazy.
Although I love almost every animal—except for skunks; sorry, Flower—I definitely have a soft, furry spot for cats. I have a polydactyl tuxedo cat who sits in my lap while I write, offering encouragement in the form of purrs and gentle head-butts. But when it came to my book, Terror in Taffeta, I hadn’t figured on there being any feline characters. Why? Because my protagonist is a destination wedding planner, which means she’s off in another country—and cats are notoriously testy about traveling.
However, about halfway through the book, an orange tabby came nuzzling his way onto the scene as a casual resident of the house they’ve rented. I enjoyed having him around so much, he ended up being part of the climax. Let’s just say (spoiler alert) *someone* is tied up in the basement, and the cat, instead of playing Lassie and coming to her aid, licks her forehead then walks off and starts cleaning himself. (Now I will have to hypnotize you so you forget everything I just told you. Focus your eyes on the cat’s tail, flicking back and forth. You are getting sleeeeeepy…..)
I’ve always been a Golden girl. As in Retriever, that is. I grew up with the breed (my mom and her dogs competed in obedience trials) and I’ve never really known much else. I love all dogs, big and small, but something about Goldens with their melted-Hershey eyes; easy personalities and undying devotion; the flowing trademark feathers (can you say “dog brush”?); non-tendency to yip; and over-enthusiasm for all things water makes me especially happy. This is our Willie, training for the Iditarod in our back yard last winter.
So far, neither of my co-sleuths in The Ladies Smythe & Westin has a canine companion. Summer is allergic to all pets on Earth, and Dorothy has a large orange terror of a tomcat, appropriately named Mr. Bitey. No Goldens yet, mostly because my series is set in Florida, where the condos are small and the sun is scorching. Next pet on deck: a tiny, green slider turtle named Skipperdee (yep, just like the one in Eloise!).
Confession: I am not an animal person. I don’t think an animal is even mentioned once in Pay Day. No cute dogs. No adorable cats. Dayna doesn’t even walk by a squirrel or bird. I know for some people, not liking animals is basically the equivalent of being a serial killer. For the record, I don’t hate animals. I like them…just at distances of upwards of 10 to 15 feet. If I did get a dog, it would have to be just as old and lazy as I am. I’d come home from a long day of work to find it lounging on the doggy bed in the living room. It would greet me with a quick head nod before going back to watching Judge Judy. Then we’d spend the evening on our respective sides of the couch watching VH1 and the Food Network. Good times.
Now it’s your turn! Are you a cat person? A dog person? One of those people who walks around at festivals with a python? Tell us all in the comments below!