In trying to save the lives of a colony of cats, a cat groomer gets tangled in a human murder mystery.
Cassie McGlone has no idea what she’s in for when her best friend ropes her into attending a resident meeting at The Reserve, an upscale-living community that seems to suit older, active—and wealthy—Chadwick, New Jersey, residents. Dawn Tischler’s mother, Gwen, is a Reserve resident who has gotten Dawn interested in a feral cat colony on the property, and Dawn needs Cassie’s help as a cat expert (and friend) who can help plead the case to let the cats live. As the owner of the cat-focused boarding and grooming business Cassie’s Comfy Cats, Cassie has gotten Dawn excited about cat facts, and Dawn is sure that the meeting’s attendees will be an attentive audience. The Reserve’s residents are anything but reserved, however, and the meeting turns quickly from a debate about euthanizing the cat colony to the attendees’ threats of euthanizing each other. Particularly threatened in a number of heated exchanges is outspoken cat activist Sabrina Ward, who draws on her social justice–focused early life to advocate for a humane trap-and-release program. Before Cassie and Dawn can team up with Sabrina and local group Friends of Chadwick Animals, they discover that Sabrina has died suddenly. Local police aren’t interested in investigating the death of an older, fragile woman, so Cassie and Dawn do some digging of their own, hoping that ridding the Reserve of the perp may mean the cats can stay. Cassie’s attention is distracted by the threat of a lawsuit from a client, who believes Cassie may have harmed his cat in the grooming process. Thank goodness Cassie’s boyfriend, veterinarian Mark Coccia, offers to help with her client, and Cassie feels lucky to have Mark on her side even if she is feeling ambivalent about their future.
Watkins’ series (The Bengal Identity, 2018) is distinguished by the incorporation of facts about cats relating to each case, making her writing educational as much as it is entertaining.