Sarasota, Fla., is a peaceful spot for a pet sitter until her job leads to murder.
Dixie Hemingway is on medical leave from the Sheriff’s Department after the accidental death of her husband and child. Caring for other people’s pets looks like a less stressful job until she finds a corpse in the home of client Marilee Doering while looking after Ghost, her Abyssinian. When Marilee remains missing and Ghost must be sent to Kitty Haven, Dixie is soon involved with Marilee’s vitriolic, homophobic neighbor, his alcoholic wife and their closeted, Juilliard-bound son Phillip. Marilee’s grandmother Cora provides some answers when the body is identified as Marilee’s wealthy lover and the father of the child she was forced to give up for adoption, but he’s far from her only partner or the only source of her considerable income. Dixie becomes a prime suspect after she stumbles on a badly beaten Phillip and then on Marilee’s decomposing body. A local lawyer adds to her woes when he announces that she’s been left Marilee’s estate in trust for Ghost, making her one wealthy pet sitter. Luckily, her dormant detecting skills return in time for her to get into Marilee’s safe full of secrets, to get stalked by a felon and to get saved from certain death by Ghost.
An entertaining debut. Dixie is a complex, well-conceived character and the plot fast-moving and believable.