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Murder Most Howl
A Paws and Claws Mystery #3
Krista Davis

Berkley Prime Crime
November 24, 2015 / ISBN 9780425262573

Reviewed by Laura Hinds


Holly Miller is left in charge of the Sugar Maple Inn, located in Wagtail, Virginia, while her grandmother has gone on vacation. Holly is delighted to have the chance to prove herself as a businesswoman who can handle any situation that arises at the inn.

It's January, and Wagtail is hosting a murder-mystery weekend to bring winter post-holiday tourists to their town, which is the top pet-friendly destination in the country. This also offers an opportunity for some of the dogs from the Wagtail Shelter to meet potential new owners in the "If the Dog Fits" portion of the event. The murder-mystery is dubbed "Murder Most Howl," and the game is set up with clues and weapons for the participants to put together to try to solve the murder of one "Baron von Rottweiler." Harmless fun, right?

Then the weather takes a turn for the worst when a blizzard moves in; and when Holly takes out her dog. Trixie, the Jack Russell discovers a real dead body. Town businessman Norm Wilson is dead, sitting on a bench, presumably frozen to death. In fact, Norm is an actual murder victim, and it starts to look as though the new handyman Holly hired, Shadow Hobbs, could be the killer. Holly's instincts tell her otherwise, and the true-life murder-mystery quickly eclipses "Murder Most Howl," for her.

Although this is the first book in this series that I have read, I quickly realized why it is such a popular series. Holly is an intelligent woman, and the cast of characters surrounding her each have their own charm and appeal. The visitors to Wagtail provide ample opportunities for sub-plots to evolve, and clues both big and small abound.

I love the animals, especial Holly's dog, Trixie, cat, Twinkletoes, and her grandmother's dog, Gingersnap. Seeing animals up for adoption being put into the middle of the Wagtail event, and the amenities and safety precautions for animals town wide did my heart good, too.

This is a clever cozy mystery with enough detail and red herrings to keep even a practiced cozy reader guessing right up until the murderer is revealed. Although I have not read the previous books in the series, you can bet I will, and I will anxiously await my next visit to Wagtail! Four paws up!

Reviews of other titles in this series

Murder She Barked
The Ghost and Mrs. Mewer

Reviewer Notes: Krista Davis also writes The Domestic Diva Mysteries

Reviewed 2016