Cat Sitter Among the Pigeons: A Dixie Hemingway Mystery
by Blaize Clement
Review by Joseph B. Hoyos
Minotaur Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780312643126
Date: 04 January 2011 List Price $24.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Professional pet sitter Dixie Hemingway lives and works in the tropical paradise of Siesta Key, Florida. One of her elderly clients is grumpy, cantankerous Mr. Stern who owns "Cheddar," an orange American Shorthair. Ruby Carlyle, carrying her four-month-old infant, Opal, pays her grandfather, Mr. Stern, an unexpected visit. Ruby must testify against two wealthy real estate racketeers or face a long prison sentence. An evil man, Kantor Tucker, will do anything, even kidnap a baby, to keep Ruby from testifying. Dixie must risk her life to find Opal before she becomes shark food.
Warmhearted cozies provide a great respite from the violent, bloody crime noir in which I normally indulge. When asked what I was reading, I told my Sunday School teacher about the wonderful Dixie Hemmingway Mystery series written by Blaize Clement. He went home and downloaded the series' debut novel, Curiosity Killed the Cat Sitter, into his mother-in-law's eReader. Cat Sitter Among the Pigeons is a typical cozy mystery designed for those readers who want a relaxing, light-hearted mystery that won't cause them to have nightmares.
The setting is a gorgeous one. Siesta Key is a long, skinny island located in the Gulf of Mexico off the shore of Sarasota, Florida. It's a tropical paradise with wealthy residents and tourists; in one neighborhood, every house has its own landing strip for personal jets. People can afford to hire someone like Dixie Hemingway to feed, walk and play with their pets. It's a great job for Dixie who is still suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder brought on from the tragic, senseless car accident that took the lives of her thirty-two-year-old husband Todd and her three-year-old daughter Christy. When she sees Ruby and her baby Opal, she sees them as herself and Christy. Therefore, when Opal is kidnapped, Dixie is compelled to find her as if she were her own child.
Cat Sitter Among the Pigeons is the first Dixie Hemingway novel I've reviewed. It can be read as a standalone novel. It is written in the first person from Dixie's point of view; she does an excellent job of describing Siesta Key and bringing the reader up to speed with her life. Her housemates are the obligatory gay characters, which consist of her extremely handsome brother Michael, a muscular fireman who is also a gourmet chef, and his partner, Paco, a tall, lean man whose dark, Mediterranean looks make him ideal for his job as an undercover detective. The two men seemed too perfect to be real. I suppose the author wanted them to serve as good role models for the gay community.
The central theme in this well crafted, endearing cozy is family love. Poor Dixie has lost her parents, husband and daughter, but she has formed a family with Michael and Paco who are always there for her. She is given a chance to create a family with her love interest, homicide detective Jean-Pierre Guidry. She is also very instrumental in reuniting Ruby with her famous husband, Zack Carlyle, a Pro Stock Racer. She insists, and I totally agree with her, that every baby needs two parents. Needless to say, the novel ends happily ever after like in the fairy tales. Dixie, however, doesn't do it all alone. She receives help from an assortment of odd characters; chief among them is the black gentle giant, Cupcake Trillin, who is a professional football player.
Cat Sitter Among the Pigeons was as cute and cuddly as the kitten on the novel's dust jack, but it wasn't as humorous as I had hoped it would be. I think this is due to the fact that Dixie still grieves the loss of Todd and Christy. The funniest moment is when she describes her parents going to a Bruce Springsteen concert; her mom took off her panties and offered them to "The Boss" who rejected them. This was the only time in the novel when I laughed out loud. Also, the novel's plot was very linear and mundane. Dixie travels from Point A to Point B without any shocking twists and turns during the journey. The most suspenseful scenes involve her trying to steal back the baby from an old house located in gator country. Furthermore, the mystery of the missing baby was too easily solved and I seriously doubted that the villain was evil enough to have actually killed the baby.
Fans of the Dixie Hemingway Mystery series will want to read the latest installment, Cat Sitter Among the Pigeons. I also recommend it for lovers of cat mysteries, such as the ones in the following series: Cat in the Stack Mystery, A Cats in Trouble Mystery, and A Magical Cats Mystery, written by Miranda James, Leeann Sweeney and Sofie Kelly, respectively. Or, if you want a quick, easy, uncomplicated mystery novel to relax with on the beach, then you may want to read Cat Sitter Among the Pigeons.