My Cat Groomer Mystery series evolved from a theme suggested by my publisher, but animals always have been a passion for me. As an only child, I grew up with pets instead of siblings, and related to them almost as brothers and sisters. I’ve never worked with animals professionally, but felt that with a little research I could step into the shoes of someone who did.
My amateur sleuth, Cassie McGlone, is in her late 20s when the series begins. Her psychology degree didn’t net her any jobs after college, so she took further training as a vet tech, an animal behaviorist and a cat groomer. Along the way, she learned that cats have different grooming and boarding needs from dogs. In the first book, The Persian Always Meows Twice, she has just set up an all-feline grooming and boarding business in the fictional rural/suburban town of Chadwick, N.J.
I’d read a few cozy mysteries featuring cats, usually pets who loitered on the fringes of things. They often had psychic links with their owners and provided clues to help solve crimes. In some books, cats communicated with other animals; they all seemed more aware than most humans of what was going on in their town, including people’s motives for murder.
I prefer to emphasize my sleuth’s realistic understanding of and compassion for animals, and how those traits compel her to investigate murders that involve her human clients. I also like to slip in lesser-known tips about cat care and behavior and to touch on some serious issues. I feel that Cassie’s work and the humans and felines she deals with can be interesting enough without any fantasy elements.
One of the things I enjoy most about writing cozies is the freedom to include a few laughs. My sense of humor is a bit dark, which works for murder mysteries, and I project that onto Cassie and her friends. When things get a little too weird or dangerous, I let someone crack a joke to lighten the mood.
I also like evolving the series. By now, Cassie has built up a solid circle of supporters including her assistant Sarah; her veterinarian boyfriend Mark; her over-protective mother Barbara; her best friend Dawn; Det. Angela Bonelli of the Chadwick police; faithful handyman Nick and his computer-genius son Dion; and members of the local shelter, Friend of Chadwick Animals (FOCA). In each book, I’ve tried to give one or two of these secondary characters larger roles than they’ve had so far. Cassie’s relationships with them also grow and deepen along the way.
In the first three books, Cassie stays pretty close to home (she lives above her shop). I worried about the series developing Cabot Cove Syndrome, with a ridiculous number of murders taking place in a supposedly “safe” small town. So by Book 4, Gone, Kitty, Gone, she’ll acquire a grooming van that lets her travel farther afield and get into a wider variety of scrapes.
Hope you’ll come along for the ride!
The Persian Always Meows Twice
A Cat Groomer Mystery
Cat lovers are thrilled to welcome an expert groomer to the picturesque town of Chadwick, N.J. But scratch below the surface, and unmasking a killer becomes a game of cat and mouse…
Professional cat grooming isn’t all fluff. When the fur starts flying, Cassie McGlone, owner of Cassie’s Comfy Cats, handles her feistiest four-legged clients with a caring touch and nerves of steel. While these qualities help keep her business purring, they also come in handy when she makes a house call to her best client, millionaire George DeLeuw, and discovers his murdered body next to his newly orphaned Persian, Harpo.
To help the local police find the killer, Cassie begins her own investigation. But no one, from George’s housekeeper to his vindictive ex-wife, is giving up clues. Not until Cassie is given permission to temporarily board Harpo does anyone show interest in the Persian’s well-being. Someone is desperate to get their paws on Harpo before the feline helps untangle a felony. Are there deadly truths that a cat whisperer like Cassie can coax out? She needs to tread lightly and remember that she gets one life, not nine!
Eileen Watkins specializes in mystery and suspense fiction. In 2017 she launched the Cat Groomer Mysteries, starting with The Persian Always Meows Twice, from Kensington Publishing. The Bengal Identity came out in spring of 2018 and Feral Attraction this fall. The Persian Always Meows Twice won the David G. Sasher Award for Best Mystery of 2017 at the Deadly Ink Mystery Conference, and received a Certificate of Excellence for 2017 from the Cat Writers’ Association, Inc. Eileen previously published eight novels through Amber Quill Press, most of them paranormal suspense, as “E. F. Watkins.”
Eileen is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Liberty States Fiction Writers and Sisters in Crime. She serves as publicist for Sisters in Crime Central Jersey and also for New Jersey’s annual Deadly Ink Mystery Conference. Eileen comes from a journalistic background, having written on art, architecture, interior design and home improvement for daily newspapers and major magazines. Besides these topics, her interests include the paranormal and spirituality as well as animal training and rescue. She is seldom without at least one cat in the house and pays regular visits to the nearest riding stable. Visit her web site at http://www.efwatkins.com.