Thursday, October 15, 2009

Murder Had a Little Lamb-Cynthia Baxter

Murder Had a Little Lamb
Cynthia Baxter
Bantam, Oct 27 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780553592375

Veterinarian Dr. Jessica Popper runs a mobile clinic Reigning Cats and Dogs that does house calls; saving the animals from having to go to an office. Commitment phobic Jessica has been engaged to Nick Burby for ages when she suddenly decides on a big wedding. After months of putting up with her future mother-in-law’s demands, Nick and Jess are about to exchange vows when a scream from one of the catering servers halts the festivities.

Inside the reception hall is the body of cousin Nathanial Stibbins who is the black sheep on the groom’s side. Nick’s mom invited Nathanial as she thought that was the right thing to do. She demands that Jessica find her nephew’s killer starting at the Worth School on Long Island. Jessica obtains a summer job there teaching students how to properly care for their pets while also subtly questioning staff and faculty about Nathanial. She learns he made plenty of enemies in his climb to the top; any of them would want him dead. Ignoring letters warning her to abort her investigation, Jessica finds evidence that points towards one suspect, but she has doubts as what was complex and convoluted abruptly became too simple and linear.

Putting aside the unlikely mother-in-law scenario, readers who adore cute animals in their mysteries will appreciate Murder Had a Little Lamb. This amateur sleuth is well constructed with many suspects possessing strong motives that lead the audience to understand how vicious and backstabbing Nathanial must have been as even his betrayed friend and his lover loathed him. The romantic subplot enhances the whodunit bringing warm depth to the intrepid heroine as part of an overall fun thriller.

Harriet Klausner