Panthers Play for Keeps (A Pru Marlowe Pet Noir)Panthers Play for Keeps cover

By Clea Simon

Poisoned Pen Press

ISBN-978059588703

243 pages Genre: Cozy Mystery

 Dog walker Pru Marlowe is a modern day Doctor Dolittle. She not only knows what dogs, cats, ferrets and other assorted animals are thinking, she can communicate with them without speaking via her thoughts if necessary. That is, of course, if they allow her in. Unwilling animals can block communications if they chose to.

This peculiar talent comes in handy when she is out training Spot to be a service dog, who happens to lead her to a dead body in the woods. The woman appears to have been killed by a mountain lion, puma or some other large cat that curiously have not been in the area for years.

Pru’s cranky cat insists that a big cat killed the woman, but Spot says there is something more nefarious going on. She believes him, and when she finds out the victim is an employee of the man that Spot is going to be helping, she uses that connection to do some sleuthing of her own.

Jim Creighton, the detective on the case is Pru’s sometimes boyfriend. Their relationship has more challenges than most. Spot’s foster mom has amorous intentions toward Jim, and even worse, Jim doesn’t know about Pru’s “gift”. He suspects something odd is going on when she gets information that would seem impossible to know and will not reveal her sources. How could she tell the practical police detective that she gets inside info from people’s pets?

Unfortunately, for Pru, she is putting herself in danger by trying to find the killer on her own, pushing Jim further away as the killer closes in.

The plot was full of twists, turns and red herrings. This makes for a quick, interesting read. The unusual gift of Pru’s ability to get information to solve crimes as well as learning every day facts is interesting and different. For instance, she finds out the “real” names of the dogs she walks, not the silly names humans gave them.

This is the fourth book in Clea Simon’s Pru Marlowe series. It started off a bit confusing to me as I read it as a one-off mystery, it took me a chapter to realize the animals were talking to Pru. There is history between Pru and Jim as well as with a rich gentleman/gangster that weaves in and out of the story. While some books give too much back-story for those who have not read the previous books, I feel this one doesn’t quite give me enough.

In the end, I found the twist on pet mysteries intriguing, and just might go check out the first three books in the series to get the real scoop on Jim and Pru’s relationship. If you prefer (or equally love) felines, Simon also writes two different feline mystery series.

Copyright © 2014 Laura Hartman

picture from cleasimon dot com

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy that I can keep for consideration in preparing to write this content. I was not expected to return this item after my review.

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