It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Clea Simon’s cat-centric murder mysteries. I knew I would enjoy Parrots Prove Deadly, the third in Simon’s Pet Noir series featuring pet behaviorist and psychic Pru Marlowe – I just didn’t realize just how much I would love it.
Pru is hired to retrain the parrot of a woman who has died in a retirement home. The parrot needs a new home, but isn’t likely to find one with the vocabulary of swear words he seems to have acquired, and the dead woman’s family is hoping that Pru can help. As Pru starts working with the bird, she is wondering whether some of the parrot’s words are a replay of the woman’s death, and whether that death could have possibly been a murder. The only other possible witnesses are a blind neighbor, her seeing-eye dog, and a non-commital health care aide. Pru can’t help herself: she begins to look into the woman’s death, and she gets drawn into a tangled web of family dynamics, possible land fraud, and a potential rabies outbreak.
With the help of her cantankerous tabby Wallis, a service dog names Buster, a gay bichon named Bitsy who insists that his real name is Growler, a ferret named Frank, and even a wild raccoon, Pru investigates the murder.
This book has a little bit for everyone. Animal lovers will enjoy Pru’s communications with the various animals. Mystery lovers will enjoy the wild ride Simon takes the reader on. The pace of this story never lets up, and I highly recommend that you don’t even start this book unless you have a good chunk of uninterrupted time ahead of you, because you’ll find it almost impossible to put down. Romance lovers will enjoy the developing on again, off again relationship between Pru and her detective boyfriend, who finds it exasperating that Pru turns up in the middle of a murder investigation yet again.
The thing I love best about reading series mysteries is the character development, and Simon is one of the masters at creating characters with depth and substance. She does not just do this for her human characters, this talent also extends to her animal characters. I’ve come to love Wallis in the first two books in the series, and I was happy that she’s even more involved in helping Pru solve the mystery in this book. I knew next to nothing about birds, and thoroughly enjoyed learning more about them through Simon’s portrayal of Randolph, the African Grey central to the story. With each book, I come to like Pru a little bit more as we get more insight into her life.
If you’re not familiar with Simon’s fiction, this book could be a great introduction. You can definitely read it as a stand alone, but why not treat yourself to all three books in the series. As with all series novels, part of the fun is not just in the story itself, but in revisiting the characters.
Clea Simon is the author of 12 mysteries and three non-fiction books, including The Feline Mystique – On the Mysterious Connection Between Cats and Their Women as well as several other nonfiction books. For more information about Clea, please visit her website or her blog.
I received an advance reading copy of this book from the publisher. Receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.