A note about The Cuddlywumps Chronicles

This blog is written and maintained by Miss Cuddlywumps, a fluffy-tailed calico cat who is both classically educated and familiar with mysteries. She receives creative input from the Real Cats and clerical assistance from She of Little Talent (old SoLT, a.k.a. Roby Sweet). Comments or complaints should be addressed to Miss C rather than to old SoLt (Ms. Sweet). Ms. Sweet accepts no responsibility for Miss C's opinions.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Reincarnated Cat + Ectoplasmic Dog + Professional Chaos Wrangler = One Terrific Mystery

Miss Cuddlywumps reviews A Taste Fur Murder by Dixie Lyle

I am going to skip the usual introductions and just tell you right now how much I loved A Taste Fur Murder. I loved it. A lot. And you should read it, because I think you will also love it. Now I will tell you why.

The book’s protagonist, Deidre “Foxtrot” Lancaster, describes herself variously as Gal Friday, administrative assistant, and chaos wrangler on the estate (with mansion, zoo, and large pet graveyard) owned by the unimaginably rich Zelda Zoransky, or “ZZ.” When the evening’s menu needs a sudden change and new flowers need to be ordered and a guest needs a special something and ZZ wants … whatever—and all these things are happening at once—Foxtrot is right there in the middle, keeping it all together. If working for ZZ is “a little like trying to ride a tornado,” as Foxtrot says, then she is an adept tornado rider. Which makes her perfectly qualified for the mysterious new assignment she gets one day.

Enter the reincarnated cat and ectoplasmic dog.

Tango is a tuxedo cat who just happens to be the same cat Foxtrot had when she was young. Tango has been dead for years but suddenly shows up again (and is now able to speak several animal languages). Tiny is a dog who can shape-shift his form from mutt to Dalmatian to golden retriever in seconds. Being ectoplasmic, he does not need to eat or go for walkies. Foxtrot can communicate with Tango and Tiny either by speaking directly to them or by thinking at them, and she “hears” their responses in her head. The message they have for her is that some human will die (must be ZZ, Foxtrot reasons), and this death will mean trouble for the pet graveyard, which is no ordinary graveyard. It is a place where the afterlives of different animals come together, a crossroads animal spirits use to connect with their humans.

 Now ZZ and this very important place are in danger and Foxtrot has to save them. All in a day’s work, right?

But when the death happens, it is a maid, not ZZ, who is killed. And when ZZ is struck, she is not killed but put in a coma. Foxtrot and her animal helpers have to protect ZZ and identify the killer from among the assortment of current guests of the estate. Was it the roboticist with the drone being developed to carry out assassinations? The pet-food magnate? The teenage girl who spends a suspicious amount of time on her computer and is also an Olympic gymnast? The gymnast’s trainer? The flirtatious British rock star? ZZ’s own son, the one with gambling debts?

Oh, and Foxtrot also needs to run the estate. And deal with a shark and an electric elephant with anger issues. And go on a date with ZZ’s personal chef, who turns out to be … different.

A Taste Fur Murder is just the sort of imaginative, entertaining animal tale we have been longing for. The book is often funny but has poignant moments as well, such as in the description of the animal spirits coming and going through the graveyard with a colorful internal glow that makes that place a true Rainbow Bridge. Dixie Lyle’s light, zippy style suits Foxtrot and is a joy to read, and with it, Lyle has created a world of delightful danger we can’t wait to return to.

An enthusiastic

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