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by Cynthia Baxter
Bantam, September 2007
368 pages
ISBN: 0553590340

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Veterinarian Jessica Popper is still adjusting to being an engaged woman – after all she has numerous commitment fears and is not sure of her decisions. As she tries to ignore the thoughts of marriage, Jessica helps her close friend Betty Vandervoort with Betty’s upcoming wedding. Unfortunately a death threatens Betty’s happiness.

Betty is very active in the Long Island community theater. The theater group is in rehearsal for a new play written by Simon Wainwright. Shortly before opening night, Simon is murdered. The cast and crew decide to continue with the production and Jessica is drafted into taking a minor role as character assignments are rearranged. She is also asked by Betty to find Simon’s killer.

Jessica agrees, as she wants her friend to be happy. Her decision does create friction with her significant other, Nick, who has invited his parents to come and stay with them in their one bedroom cottage. This visit is Jessica’s chance to build a relationship with her future in-laws. The fact that she now has rehearsals, her own vet practice and a killer to hunt down does not go over well with Nick or his family.

In addition to the tense situation Jessica faces at home, she quickly discovers that the stage can also be stressful. Simon was not necessarily the ideal person many made him out to be so he surprisingly had a good number of enemies. The more questioning Jessica does, the more danger she finds herself in. Somehow, she must catch the killer before the killer decides she is too close.

As with the previous books in this series, Jessica uses her veterinarian skills to help hunt down a killer in WHO’S KITTEN WHO. Jessica takes her mobile unit and the freedom from a fixed office to go on house visits to learn about the lives of suspects and witnesses. By using animals as a means of common ground, Jessica finds herself welcomed into situations where the police or a private investigator would not be welcomed. This ability allows Jessica to find clues and evidence that the police cannot find.

WHO’S KITTEN WHO is pretty typical of the Reigning Cats and Dogs mystery series. Jessica remains a bubbly, cheerful person who frequently gets into dangerous situations. Her determination to find justice for others is one of the most appealing characteristics of the series even though her decisions are not always good, safe or smart.

The major detraction to this series is her personal life. Even when excluding her commitment phobia, her social life is a distraction. Her relationship with Nick leaves something to be desired as neither of them seem to be 100 per cent sure of where their future lies.

I will admit that I would prefer for them to either remain happy and together or to separate. The constant state of flux surrounding their relationship – supportive to unsupportive – is annoying and distracts from the story. Once Cynthia Baxter has made her decision on whether or not these characters will truly get married should hopefully resolve this issue and allow the criminal investigations to be the focus of the series.

Reviewed by Sarah Dudley, November 2007

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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