Friday, May 25, 2018

#FridayReads - Fear on Four Paws

In Fear on Four Paws, the seventh entry in author Clea Simon’s Pet Noir Mystery Series, Pru Marlowe proves to be a complicated protagonist. She has a leg up when it comes to solving crimes because she can communicate telepathically with animals. The emotions and images they share with her often send her haring off in the right direction, at least when it comes to solving crimes.

In other aspects of her life, Pru herself lets readers know things don’t run quite as smoothly. She has more than a passing fascination with drinking to ease her uncertainty and self-doubt. It’s not always easy to follow her line of thinking or to feel entirely comfortable with how harshly she sometimes treats people presented as her friends and clients. She sizes up men as potential bedmates in the same way that some people examine horses prior to making a purchase decision, doing everything but asking to examine their teeth.

So, what does all this make her? A refreshingly different and modern amateur sleuth. If imitation Jane Marples have been done to death (and they have) then Pru Marlowe is a sleuth very much at home in the now.

As an animal behavior specialist, Pru has a sort of semi-regular job assisting Albert, the slovenly and thoroughly unreliable county Animal Control Officer who makes Pru’s occasional drinking binges almost seem unremarkable. When she answers a call about a wild bear caught in a net, she encounters not only a drugged and frightened young bear, but also Greg, the hunky local game warden, and a sloshed Albert, who hasn’t quite slept off the previous night’s revels. If he had, surely he wouldn’t be slumped over so close to the bear? Because she is concerned for Frank, Albert’s pet ferret who lets Pru know telepathically he is deeply alarmed over his human's condition, she agrees to take the duo home.

She thinks that is that and is busily tending to her dog walking business when her current boyfriend, Detective Jim Creighton, calls to tell her they’ve found a body locked inside the shed next to where she found Albert. Jim tells her the Animal Control Officer is the prime suspect. Despite the many problems he causes in her work life, Pru takes pity on Albert and sets out to prove he didn’t commit the murder. Along the way, she encounters more business and personal problems, another captured bear, and a seemingly friendly client who isn’t quite what she seems.

If you like light mysteries with a fast pace, and especially if you’re a fan of Clea Simon’s previous novels, you’ll enjoy Fear on Four Paws.

Reviewed by Patricia B. Smith
Patricia B. Smith is a journalist who is the author of 11 published books, including Idiot’s Guide: Flipping Houses, Alzheimer's For Dummies and Sleep Disorders for Dummies.

Ms. Smith is also an experienced professional developmental editor who serves as an Editorial Evaluation and Developmental Coordinator for Five Star Publishing. She works with private clients as well and has helped many authors land their first publishing contracts. Many of her clients have achieved notable success, including two winners of the Missouri Writers’ Guild Show-me Best Book of the Year Award.


  1. I can get into stories with plots that rival French braiding in their numerous elements. A writer who can seamlessly pull all those apparent separates into a logical, satisfying whole earns my kudos as one who has honed her craft to the point of art. Great review, Pat.

  2. You're welcome, Clea. I am reading the Blackie and Care book now. Very mysterious and intriguing, and I love the POV. :-)

  3. Pet Noir is an intriguing concept. I'll be adding this one to my TBR list. Thanks, Pat.

  4. Great review, and I am going to check this one out. Talk about a flawed character, Pru fits that bill and some.

  5. That's what I like about Pru, Maryann. She's a complete original. And Patricia, you're right. The Pet Noir concept is intriguing.

  6. Thank you for the review, Pat! "Pet Noir" is certainly a different take on the animals-in-mysteries venue. I'll be checking this one out...


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