By: Clea Simon
Illustrated By: Rich Siegle
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Publication Date: April 2014
Reviewed By: Kristi Benedict
Review Date: April 25, 2014
Big cats are predators that have not been seen in the east woods for decades as people have settled the wilderness around them. However, when Pru Marlowe is led to a mauled body by a service dog named Spot that she is training, it appears as if nothing but a big cat could be the cause of death. Knowing that her connection and comprehension of the thoughts of animals could be the only thing that allows this case to be solved, Pru finds herself cracking a case that she did not even mean to get involved with. Trusting Spot’s instincts and acute senses, Pru works to decipher exactly what this dog is trying to tell her and sort out the clues that will help solve this mystery. Along with Spot’s help Pru also seeks council from her cat Wallis, who always has something smart to say and does not mind letting her opinion be known. Even though Wallis is a much smaller cat than the one possibly running loose in the woods, her predator instincts may be just the clue Pru needs if she pays close enough attention to realize it.
While Pru is constantly working out the thoughts voiced by the animals around her, the people of the community have decided that the hunting of this big cat will be taken into their own hands. Fortunately Pru’s sometimes “beau” is a police officer named Jim and both know that this hunt needs to be stopped or someone else will end up getting hurt. Even as all the evidence points toward a cougar attack something continues to eat at Pru, as there are too many pieces missing to be completely sure that a big cat was responsible for this murder. However, when another murder happens it appears that both women were attacked in much the same way. Still refusing to believe that a cougar or some large predator was the one responsible for these murders, Pru throws herself into this investigation and knows that it will take all of her special abilities with animals to find the answer to this mystery.
From the first few pages this book had me intrigued. It took me a bit to figure out how the author portrayed the speaking of the animals and Pru’s interpretation, but once I figured that out, and after I comprehended Clea Simon’s style of writing, I could not put this story down. The connection between Pru, the animals around her, and then showing the difference between human and animal nature is done brilliantly in this book. This is the first one I have read of this series and I definitely see myself reading the others in this series in the future. Each chapter had me hanging on wanting to know more and what’s going to happen with the next turn of the page. After starting the book I finished it within a day as I was easily caught up in the intriguing writing of Simon and the thrilling mystery that was unfolding.
Quill says: Such an amazing mystery that showcases a refreshing and unique heroine!