Welcome to Cozy Wednesday!
I am thrilled to welcome Eileen Watkins to Escape With Dollycas today.
Her book The Persian Always Meows Twice was released yesterday!
COZY WEDNESDAY BLOG POST
By Eileen Watkins, author of
The Persian Always Meows Twice,
A Cat Groomer Mystery
If you work at a fairly standard nine-to-five job, you’ve probably dreamed at times of escaping that routine. Not necessarily to give up working completely, but to be your own boss—to become an entrepreneur!
Ever notice how many amateur sleuths in cozy mysteries are entrepreneurs? Probably the main reason is so they can take off fairly easily to interview a suspect or follow up on a clue, without having to account to a boss and risk being fired for their unscheduled absences. But I think we mystery fans also enjoy living vicariously through these independent types. While you’re reading about a someone who runs a niche bookstore, raises emus or crafts stained glass windows for a living, you can fantasize about whatever job might satisfy your unconventional, creative side.
On the other hand, how many people do you know who make a decent living by running their own small businesses? The few who do generally put in long hours, struggle to balance the books and wear many hats. Succeeding as an entrepreneur is hard work, and in real life might not allow much time for solving murders. We happily accept this contradiction while we’re escaping into crime fiction.
Though I’m not above sugar-coating the entrepreneur’s life a bit myself in my new Cat Groomer series, I also wanted to ground it in reality. When I decided that my sleuth, Cassie McGlone, would operate a cat grooming service in a small town, I did some of the same research as if I were starting up the business for real.
First I wondered, can someone actually make a living as a cat groomer? As skeptical people tend to ask Cassie in my books, “Don’t cats groom themselves?” Through online research and in-person interviews, I discovered that many cat breeds have special grooming requirements that could be hard for their owners to fill. Some longhairs, for example, develop stubborn mats that cause discomfort and can be tough to remove without special tools and training. Others types need frequent baths for their oily skins, or special handling for their curly, fragile coats. In addition, I learned, many professional pet groomers will not deal with cats at all because they’re considered too temperamental.
That was good news for Cassie. Her services would fill a definite need!
The most successful of the cat groomer I talked to, though, also ran a boarding business. She had a steady stream of customers because, she explained, many cats don’t do well in a mixed kennel. The sight, sounds and smells of dogs can make them nervous wrecks, and what owner back from vacation wants to pick up a traumatized cat? That insight helped me a lot. If Cassie did boarding as well as grooming at her shop, she’d have a chance of making a decent income.
Of course, every entrepreneur needs customers and will struggle if she sets up in the wrong location. I helped Cassie out by creating the fictional small town of Chadwick, N.J. It’s just historic and picturesque enough to attract well-off visitors from more urban areas, as well as new-money folks moving to the surrounding suburbs, all of whom might become potential customers.
Her choice of a career provides one other, important perk. As all of those sleuths working as bookstore owners, dog-walkers and hair stylists have discovered, when you come in contact with a steady stream of strangers it increases your chances of stumbling across the occasional dead body. Cassie quickly finds this out in my first Cat Groomer book, The Persian Always Meows Twice—she makes a house call to her wealthiest client and finds him murdered in his own study. The only witness is his Persian, Harpo, who doesn’t seem likely to give up any secrets…or could he? After Cassie agrees to board the cat temporarily at her shop, all at once several people seem awfully eager to get their hands on Harpo, maybe to “silence” him forever.
As Cassie’s business grows, of course, she will be kept hopping. The more boarders she has to care for and the more cats she has to groom, the less time she might have to muck around with murders. So, at the beginning of Persian, I let her hire a mature, level-headed assistant, Sara Wilcox. Of course, Sarah came prepared to deal with the occasional spitting Siamese or hissing Himalayan, but not homicidal humans. Now when Cassie gets embroiled in solving crimes, and sometimes sheltering feline “persons of interest” at her facility, she also has to worry about putting loyal Sarah in jeopardy.
You can see that, for Cassie, caring for other people’s cats isn’t all fluff. And if we looked closely at the lives of most entrepreneurs, we’d probably find they work as hard as, if not harder than, those of us with a “straight” jobs. Still, after the boss has once again barked at your for a mistake that wasn’t your fault, it’s always fun to daydream about striking out on your own!
Have you ever taken the leap and started your own business (other than writing)? How did it turn out? If you’ve never tried it so far, what would be your dream “entrepreneurial” career?
Thank you Eileen so much for visiting today!
Cat lovers are thrilled to welcome an expert groomer to the picturesque town of Chadwick. But scratch below the surface, and unmasking a killer becomes a game of cat and mouse . . .
Professional cat grooming isn’t all fluff—when the fur starts flying, Cassie McGlone, owner of Cassie’s Comfy Cats, handles her feistiest four-legged clients with a caring touch and nerves of steel. While these qualities certainly help keep her business purring, they also come in handy when she makes a house call to her best client, millionaire George DeLeuw, and discovers his murdered body next to his newly orphaned Persian, Harpo.
To help the local police find the actual killer, Cassie begins her own investigation. But no one, from George’s housekeeper to his vindictive ex-wife, is giving up clues. Not until Cassie is given permission to temporarily board Harpo does anyone show interest in the Persian’s well being. Someone is desperate to get their paws on Harpo before the feline helps untangle a felony. Are there deadly truths that a cat whisperer like Cassie can coax out? She needs to tread lightly and remember she gets one life, not nine. . . .
I have been excited about this book since I saw the cover on Amazon months ago and it was well worth the wait.
Our protagonist is Cassie McGlone, owner of Cassie’s Comfy Cats in Chadwick, New Jersey. She makes house calls for her top client, millionaire George DeLeuw, to groom his beautiful Persian, Harpo. When she arrives for her scheduled appointment she finds Harpo next to George’s dead body. The police are asking a lot of questions, even casting Cassie as a suspect. They are really getting nowhere until Cassie boards the furry feline at Comfy Cats and then several people become very interested in Harpo’s well being and go to great and dangerous lengths to get their hands on the pretty Persian.
I fell for the characters in this story immediately. Cassie, her friend Dawn, and her new employee Sarah are so well developed for the first book in this series. We also meet local veterinarian Mark who Cassie and I would both like to get to know better. The author also gives us a nice variety of suspects from the ex-wife, to the housekeeper, and more. Of course, they are some furry characters too, that I absolutely loved!
The plot has some really nice twists. I thought I had figured out a very important clue and was pretty proud of myself until I found out I was totally wrong. The author manages to drop a key clue here and there as she tells us about cat grooming and Cassie’s life. There are also a couple of very suspenseful moments that had me sitting up straight in my chair and really paying attention. At first I didn’t think the story was fast paced until I reached the end and realized I had read the whole thing in one sitting. To say I escaped into the book is a true understatement.
I love the theme of the series as I am a cat lover, the characters are some I want to get to know better, and if future mysteries are this entertaining, Eileen Watkins will have a hit series on her hands.
A cat-ivating cozy for all cozy lovers but for true cat lovers this is a must read!
Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent
You can find out more about Eileen Watkins and her book on her webpage here. You can also sign up on her mailing list there too. She is also on Facebook.
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”