Spring got off to such a slow start that it might be rushing things to call this a "summer reading list." However, even if the sun never shines, these books do.
"The Cat Sitters' Cradle" is the first book I've read in this series, but it won't be the last. The list in the book indicates seven other "Cat Sitter" titles, written by Blaize Clement. Ms. Clement has passed away, and her son John has taken up the pen and is doing a fine job.
There are some animals in the book, but they are incidental to the plot. The cats don't talk or communicate telepathically or otherwise with the humans, and they don't solve the crime. There are a couple of dogs in the book, but they don't help, either. I was rather fond of the part played by the porcupine fish, however.
There's no blood and gore in the book, just a simple murder, but who-done-it is far from simple. There are several promising suspects, but the murderer is a real surprise. There's a pleasant sub-plot and a budding romance, which makes it a very enjoyable read. There's nothing heavy in the book. It's just fun. Perfect for reading in a hammock, or, given the way the weather changes around here, just as perfect by a cozy fire with a cup of hot chocolate.
By coincidence, I had just gone to the library the day the "Cat Sitters" book arrived and had checked out a Susan Conant book, "The Gaits of Heaven." Susan writes murder mysteries that are based heavily on the world of dogs. The protagonist has Malamutes and shows her dogs in both conformation and obedience, so there's always information about that mixed in with the search for the murderer. She and her daughter also write a series of mysteries that revolve around the world of cooking, and, for the cat lovers, she's written a few mysteries featuring cats. So, whether your interest is in cats, dogs, or cooking you'll enjoy books by Susan Conant.
Clea Simon is another author I enjoy. Clea has two series, one with protagonist Theda Krakow and one with Pru Marlowe. I like them both, but given a choice, will take Pru over Theda. Pru can "hear" the thoughts of animals, and I really enjoy Clea's portrayals of those thoughts. They're not always important. A dog, for instance, may be totally focused on the scent of an uneaten sandwich, even though Pru is hoping for thoughts on what human may have been in the area.
Two other friends of mine started out writing nonfiction, and have made the move to fiction.
Amy Shojai's first book of a trilogy is out in paperback and as an e-book. "Lost and Found" features a German shepherd dog who is trying to protect the autistic child in the family. The second book of the trilogy, "Hide and Seek," should be out in December, just in time for holiday giving. Look for the third book, "Search and Destroy" (working title) about a year after that.
Carol Benjamin wrote several good books about dog training before she started her series of novels about private investigator Rachel Alexander and her pit bull sidekick, Dashiell. In her books, a dog frequently plays an important role in solving the crime and because of Carol's background in training, the dog's actions are based on training and are very believable.
Not that I always need "believable." The cats in Shirley Rousseau Murphy's books can speak English and are very good at solving mysteries. Midnight Louie is another smart cat. He can't speak, but he also solves mysteries. Carole Nelson Douglas is his creator.
I've just finished another book, "Death Under the Crescent Moon," by Dusty Rainbolt. Dusty's book is a ghost story with a lovely Turkish van cat who is incidental to the story, but is a nice companion to the heroine. The novel is based on a true character, Norman Baker, who ran a cancer hospital in the 1930s. The former hospital is now a haunted hotel, and Dusty was inspired to write the story after a ghost spoke to her when she was visiting the hotel. If you like ghost stories, download "Death Under the Crescent Moon" to your e-reader, learn something about Norman Baker, and enjoy Ivan the cat, as well as the appearance of several ghosts.
Remember, you don't have to wait for summer to enjoy any of these wonderful books.