When Bunnies Go Bad by Clea Simon

BAD
When Bunnies Go Bad by Clea Simon
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (255 pgs)
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Cholla

Winter is hard in Beauville, where the melting snow can reveal much more than last season s dead leaves. So when a wealthy, obnoxious tourist and his ski bunny girlfriend surface in Pru Marlowe s little Berkshire town, she knows she should stay out of their way. The bad-girl animal psychic has to focus on more immediate concerns, including a wild rabbit named Henry, supposedly tamed and illegally living with an eighty-four-year-old lady in her home. Henry, who seems to be acting out and hiding, avoids responding to Pru. Yet when Pru discovers the tourist murdered and his girlfriend s high-maintenance spaniel falls to her care, she gets dragged into a complicated case of crime and punishment that involves some new friends, an old nemesis, and her own shadowed past. A recent museum art heist draws the feds into the investigation along with a courtly gentleman radiating menace, who represents secretive business interests in New York and shows a surprising awareness of Pru. Her on-again, off-again romance with police Detective Creighton doesn t stop him from warning her to steer clear of the inquiry. The spaniel, however, lures her in. Pru lives in a world where only her crotchety tabby Wallis knows the whole truth about her past, her flight from Manhattan, and her unique gift that surfaced abruptly one day. Fearing the worst, Pru now comes dangerously close to being exposed. With everything in motion, Pru, Wallis, and everyone they hold dear will be lucky to escape by a hare.”

Despite almost having her degree as an animal behaviorist, Pru Marlowe still struggles to make ends meet. By taking odd jobs walking dogs and helping out around the town, she finds a way to keep herself – and her cat, Wallis – fed and happy. She knows Wallis is happy too, and not just by the tabby’s contented purr. No, Pru has a limited psychic connection with animals of all varieties, which makes her day to day jobs both more difficult and more entertaining. So, when she stumbles across a murdered tourist, it’s only natural she’s going to enlist the aid of the critters all around her.

This was my first Pru Marlowe novel and I can safely say it won’t be my last. Although Pru herself is pretty problematic – she has a million and one personal issues – she’s also kind hearted, intelligent, and loyal. The relationship she has with her cat, Wallis, cracked me up because it reminded me so much of how I interact with my own feline. But the way she conducts herself around other animals’ people is probably her greatest strength. Even when the humans don’t deserve it, she’s polite and straightforward for the sake of the animals she cares for.

Some of the best characters in this novel were the animals. Wallis, Pru’s tabby cat, is a constant source of disdain and entertainment since he serves as Pru’s main confidante. Growler, a dog she walks regularly for a rather unpleasant woman, gives her great insights into what other animals might do and think in certain situations. He’s actually one of my favorite characters in this story because he’s such a gossip, giving Pru a running commentary on the neighborhood animal’s activities every walk. Stewie is a little spaniel who is wrapped up in the murder mystery and all he wants is to go back to his person, and you never really know for sure who that is, until the very end.

Cozy mysteries are one of my favorite genres to read. Adding animals and a touch of the paranormal to it only makes it more fun, as far as I’m concerned. Clea Simon does an excellent job of mixing humor, romance, and mystery into one coherent and exciting tale. The humans are engaging and fun, but the non-human characters are even more so. That the author was able to infuse so much personality into animals that really have no voice – as sometimes all Pru can get from them is a vague sense of their emotions – really amazed me. I’ve already purchased the first book in this series because I can’t wait to start at the beginning and discover how this all started.

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