Friday, February 24, 2023

Shot in the Bark (Dog Groomer Mysteries #8), by Chelsea Thomas

Big + Little Press, February 2023

Amy and her Granny Petunia are running a successful pet grooming business in the Toluca Lake area, in Los Angeles. It's successful enough that former child star, now lifestyle guru Tessa May Wilson, wants Amy to groom her pets.

Her pets, though,  are Silkie chickens, which will be a first for Amy. She's never groomed chickens, or heard of Silkies. But Tessa May says she just wants them fluffed, and this is a great opportunity for Amy. It's agreed that Amy will pick up the chickens in her van the next day.

When Amy, Granny, and Amy's friend and employee Betsy, arrive at Tessa May's home, they find the chickens, but no Tessa May. After a little poking around, they do find her mother, Wilma Wilson, dead. Strangled with a chicken leash.

Wilma and Tessa May were quite publicly estranged, after Tessa May sued her mother over mismanagement of her earnings as a child actor.

Amy has the sense to call her boyfriend, Police Detective Mike Fine. This does not mean Amy, Granny, and Betsy aren't conducting their own investigation, but I have to give points here for them not interfering in the police investigation, and telling Mike when they find something. They're a lively and likable crew, and the case has twists and turns that do make it interesting. 

Wilma's ex-husband, Tessa's father Richie; Wilma's twin brother Heath, also estranged; her current husband, toy-boy Luke, and her assistant at her agency that represents Hollywood talent, who goes by Minx, all look like possible suspects, in addition to Tessa May. Yet, their motives don't seem strong at all, when looked at closely.

Yet Wilma was unquestionably murdered, strangled with a chicken leash. Both the police and Amy and her team are puzzled.

Then there's another murder.

It's fun, it's lively, and the solution is clever and plausible. 

And yet there are some odd things about the book, too. Maybe I'm being too picky, but despite the title, there are no gunshots, and the only dog, Amy's dog Lucky, plays no role at all in the mystery. There are also chapters spaced out in the mystery, following her cat, Fluffy, and his pursuit of his love life. It's charming and enjoyable, and my assumption that Fluffy and his beloved, Elizabeth, would stumble across some evidence they'd have to lead  Amy to, was  not fulfilled. It just seems odd. Since this is the first book in this series that I've read, I have no idea if this is a regular feature of it. Maybe in another book, Lucky has his own adventure?

I liked it. It's fun.

I received a free copy of this book from the author, via her email newsletter.

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