I read cozy and historical mysteries, a bit of Paranormal/UF, and to mix it up, I read science and gardening books on occasion.
Hello, my name is Jennifer and I love animals more than I like people. Generally speaking. Not just the cute furry ones, but all animals. Except roaches - roaches are the devil's minions, but otherwise, pretty much all of them.
You'd think this animal love would mean that I'd pick up any book about animals and devour it. While perfectly logical, this isn't actually the case. Childhood traumas that involved Bambi and Old Yeller taught me a long time ago to be very, very selective when it comes to stories about or involving animals. So, I don't read books where animals are hurt, treated badly, or they die.
I also don't read books about animals that talk to humans because that's just asking me to suspend my disbelief that little bit too much. It's just too silly.
All of this is setup to my disbelief when I opened up A Taste Fur Murder and realised that the animals talk. I had to go and read the back-cover blurb for this book again, because I avoid books that have talking animals! What was I thinking? This wasn't just a whim request from NetGalley that I did in haste - I've already pre-ordered the book! But, I did request it from NetGalley and I wasn't going to back out of my commitment to read and review it fairly. So, I read it.
To say I was surprised by how much I enjoyed reading this book would be a bit of an understatement. It was excellently written, a joy to read, and had a murder plot so fantastical that it was a mystery to the very end.
Deirdre “Foxtrot” Lancaster, who goes by Foxtrot pretty much exclusively, is a likeable character. She’s smart, incredibly capable, independent, resourceful and just witty enough to avoid being a flat automaton. She and the author seem to have a crusade about the importance of executive assistants going on throughout the book; she edges into ‘harping’ territory a bit with the repetitive mentions of how her skills as an Executive Assistant keep coming into play when she needs to save the day, but I just skimmed over it and got on with the enjoyment of the story.
Most of the other characters seem to be only making a one-book appearance as guests of “ZZ”, the extremely rich woman Foxtrot works for and the would-be victim of a murder plot. The only other permanent character we’re introduced to that we learn anything about, is the chef and possible love interest, Ben Montain, who has more than a few secrets he’s keeping.
The premise of this book would more accurately be categorised as fantasy cozy mystery. There's very nearly nothing realistic about it, but I wish it were. I absolutely love the idea of the Animal Graveyard and what goes on there. The author and I share the belief that animals and their owners are reunited (if they deserve to be) in the hereafter, but she's obviously given the logistics a lot more thought than I have. She's created a world of the here and now, blended with the hereafter, that is fantastical, but not at all silly or simple.
As for the telepathic animals? Well, I won't pretend I didn't struggle with it a bit, but it almost 100% blended well within the story. In fact, one of the conversations she has with her cat, Tango, made me misty eyed; if conversations with cats were possible, it's the one I'd have had with at least one of my cats. But I dislike Tango calling the MC “toots". If the author asked me to name one thing I'd change - that'd be it. I can't imagine my least dignified cat ever calling anyone "toots".
The murder mystery plot is complex and suspects are coming out of the woodwork. This isn’t the type of mystery where the author gives you enough clues to figure out the villain yourself; you’re along for the ride, cheering on Foxtrot as she puts clues together - clues she doesn’t always share with the reader right away. I don’t mind this approach - I was enjoying the story too much to care, and the murder plot itself was so “out there” even Foxtrot admitted it was unbelievable.
When the last page was read, I said to my husband “I can’t believe how much I enjoyed a book with talking animals!”. But I did, and I can’t wait to read the second one.
I received this book as an ARC by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.