Saturday, July 3, 2021

Ruff and Tumble (Dog Groomer Mysteries #2), by Chelsea Thomas

Chelsea Thomas, July 2021

Amy's pet grooming business, Creature Comforts, is going gangbusters in Toluca Lake, California, but that doesn't mean Amy, her grandmother, Petunia, and her assistant Betsy, can't find time to investigate a murder.

A new client, Jasper, brings in his bulldog, Jonathan, and mentions his boss, retired actor and producer Margo Edmonds. Margo, it seems, has an Afghan hound, Majesty, who never gets groomed. Amy says she'll do it, Jasper says Margo won't let her, and by the end of the day, Amy has an appointment to pick up Majesty for grooming at 8am, the following morning.

When Amy and Betsy arrives, no one answers the bell, or a knock on the door, but by cavalierly disregarding private property, Amy finds her way in--and finds Margo in time to watch her die, apparently of poison.

They call the police, but when the police check the house, they find no body. Margo is gone, and there's no signs of a struggle, and Detective Rotund and Amy's old high school classmate, Detective Mike Fine, don't believe there ever was a body. It gets stranger and stranger from here.

Granny, a.k.a. Petunia, and Betsy are both eccentrics. One of the ways we know this is that they tell us. but Betsy's behavior and attire really is  over the top, and Granny is aggressive, domineering, and a true card shark. She's also devoted her granddaughter, though that often expresses itself in very bossy ways. One thing I like about her is that she genuinely likes it when Amy pushes back.

In their murder investigation, they have a few suspects--Jasper, Margo's assistant, of course, and Francine, the maid, both of whom Margo was quite verbally abusive to. Along the way, though, they find other suspects, and keep having encounters with the police, whom Amy refuses to share the clues they find with.

There's also a subplot, in which Amy's cat, Fluffy, seeks to discover how Amy's puppy, Lucky, is getting access to treats when Amy isn't around to dispense them. It's told in separate chapters spread out through the book, narrated by Fluffy, and I really enjoyed it.

Amy, Betsy, and Granny/Petunia really like animals, and the visits of pets to Creature Comforts to be groomed add to the fun.

I'm less thrilled by Amy's refusal to talk to the police about what they find, and also her unashamed willingness to break into people's houses to find evidence.

Overall, though, this is a fun, light, enjoyable book. Recommended if you're looking for a light read.

I received a free electronic galley of this book from the author via Booksprout and am reviewing it voluntarily.

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