In the mood for a fluffy book, I wondered if Cynthia Baxter’s Who’s Kitten Who? might be a bit too fluffy based on the cover and title. Still, give it a try.
Amateur sleuth Jessica Popper is a veterinarian who runs a mobile clinic on Long Island. She lives with her fiancé and numerous animals. She has a habit of running into murder and mystery. In this book, it’s the murder of a community theatre writer. The backdrop is her home life and the visit of her future in-laws, whom she has not yet met, and their little dog Mitzi.
The actual mystery is good – some clues so you could feel like you were figuring it out but not enough to be too obvious. The pets and her interaction with them are well drawn and entertaining. Some LOL moments produced by her daily life with humans and animals. Fluffy? Yes. A good read? Yes.
The visit by the in-laws – good in that her fiancé’s mother is so god-awful that she gives you nightmares. The tension between Jessica, her fiancé and his parents and Mitzi is very good. It is realistic enough for any of us who have hideous memories of meeting “the fam” of a significant other. It is over the top enough to make us laugh and feel relief that nothing we experienced was ever quite this bad.
In-laws – and fiancé – from hell
Where it fails, in my opinion, is that Jessica tolerates this abuse by fiancé and his parents and actually still wants to be involved with this inconsiderate jackass. I was relieved when I thought she had seen the light, smelled the coffee, woken up to her future with this dysfunctional pack of egotistical lunatics. When loose ends are being tied up after the mystery was solved, I fully expected her to say “I never want to lay eyes on you again, so go live with your deranged mother and her deranged dog and spare every other woman’s emotional wellbeing.” What I read instead surprised me – indeed annoyed me.
Aside from that, I don’t like books where there’s no connection between title and content (excepting those with a series-based reason) and there isn’t here. No kitten except for the punning opportunity. I also don’t like mystery protagonists who suddenly act stupid for the sake of moving the plot along. That happens here at least once in a major way.
I should, I suppose, read another of Ms. Baxter’s ‘Reigning Cats and Dogs‘ series to get a better sense of Jessica and the pillock she’s engaged to. Other than the points I mention, Who’s Kitten Who? is a fun, well-written and engaging mystery with mostly likeable characters.
From my St. Thomas Dog Blog, Sept. 8/11. Below are Amazon links to the first two Jessica Popper books. The right sidebar links are for Cynthia Baxter’s second series featuring travel writer Mallory Marlowe.