Pet behaviorist and psychic Pru Marlowe is back in this fifth book in Clea Simon’s Pet Noir series, and the series just keep getting better with each book. In Kittens Can Kill, Pru arrives at a client’s house and finds a fluffy white kitten next to the client’s body. Was it a heart attack? Were drug interactions to blame? Or was the victim allergic to the kitten, which one of his three daughters had given her father as a gift only recently?
Pru gets drawn into a tangled web of family dysfunction as the three daughters fight over their father’s considerable estate. Aided by her wise, if somewhat cranky, tabby Wallis, Dru takes temporary custody of the kitten, whose name, according to Wallis, is Ernesto.
Pru’s life is complicated enough without adding the stress of a murder investigation, between her heightened sensitivity to animals, which caused her to flee Manhattan for the quiet Berkshires, trying to hide her psychic abilities from her on again, off again boyfriend detective, and money problems at the local animal clinic that is the source of much of Pru’s business. The only one who knows what really happened is the kitten, and Pru can’t reveal what Ernesto knows without exposing her own hidden talents.
Even though some readers may find that they have to suspend belief when it comes to Pru’s ability to communicate with animals, it is one of my favorite aspects of the series. Simon handles this topic well without entering “woo woo” territory, and her sensitive portrayal of Dru’s abilities will make you want to believe even if you may be a skeptic. I particularly enjoyed the parts where it becomes clear that Pru’s gift of being able to read animals’ thoughts does not come without a price. This becomes painfully evident when Pru is called upon to remove some squirrels from a home’s attic.
Of all the animals in the book, curmudgeonly Wallis remains my favorite. She knows Pru better than Pru knows herself, and she challenges Pru to step out of her comfort zone.
Kittens Can Kill is a thoroughly enjoyable, fast-paced and well-plotted mystery. The author provides enough back story so that this book can be read as a stand-alone, but why not treat yourself to the whole series. One of my favorite parts about reading a series novel is the development of the central character, and nobody does this better than Clea Simon.
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Clea Simon is the author of 17 mysteries and three non-fiction books, including The Feline Mystique – On the Mysterious Connection Between Cats and Their Women. For more information about Clea, please visit her website.
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FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the author. Receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.