When an anti-animal agitator is murdered, it’s unclear who wanted him dead badly enough to commit the crime.
A phone call about a kidnapping alarms Janet MacPhail even though the caller is her mildly histrionic friend Alberta. Janet is so flustered by the call that she forgets to ask the identity of the victim before setting out to Alberta’s with her Australian shepherd, Jay, in tow. The kidnappee turns out to be Gypsy, a cat Alberta has recently taken in. Luckily, Jay has no trouble picking up the scent and leading them to the victim. Unluckily, Gypsy is found on the property of notable local grump Charles Rasmussen, who would as soon exterminate Gypsy as let Alberta and Janet take her back home. An argument about what’s to happen with the cat and her new brood of kittens gets out of hand, and soon enough, the police are involved and Charles is threatening to sue all parties. Janet catches a break when the cop involved is Hutchinson, who’s slowly been developing a soft spot for animals. However, Charles isn’t the sort to let things go. He even dares to show his face at the cat agility competition, where Janet’s cat Leo is set to make his debut. Being around pet owners is almost as bad as being around their pets, and Charles has his share of enemies in the crowd. When it later appears that Charles has been murdered, the question is not so much whodunit as whodidn’t.
Janet, like her animal companions, continues to evolve in Boneham’s series (The Money Bird, 2013, etc.) even if the mystery is too slight and silly to warrant much notice.