“In her third book of the series, writer Lois Schmitt has crafted an intricately-plotted mystery full of twists and humor, with a cast of colorful characters, set in a wildlife refuge rehab center. Cozy fans, and especially followers of Schmitt’s animal lovers’ mysteries, will find great entertainment in Playing Possum.” -Phyllis Gobbell, award-winning author of the Jordan Mayfair Mysteries
Published: December 2021
Murder, Mayhem, and Missing Animals.
When animals mysteriously disappear from the Pendwell Wildlife Refuge, former English teacher turned magazine reporter Kristy Farrell is on the case. Days later, the body of the refuge’s director is found in a grassy clearing.
Kristy, assisted by her veterinarian daughter, investigates and discovers strong motives among the suspects, including greed, infidelity, betrayal, and blackmail.
As Kristy delves further, she finds herself up against the powerful Pendwell family, especially matriarch Victoria Buckley Pendwell, chair of the refuge board of trustees, and Victoria’s son, Austin Pendwell, who is slated to run for the state senate.
But ferreting out the murderer and finding the missing animals aren’t Kristy only challenges. While researching a story on puppy mills, she uncovers criminal activity that reaches far beyond the neighborhood pet store.
Meanwhile, strange things are happening back at the refuge, and soon a second murder occurs. Kristy is thwarted in her attempts to discover the murderer by her old nemesis, the blustery Detective Wolfe.
Kristy perseveres and as she unearths shady deals and dark secrets, Kristy slowly draws the killer out of the shadows.
Praise for Playing Possum:
Lois Schmitt’s Playing Possum does cozies proud. Fresh and traditional all at once.” -Reed Farrel Coleman, New York Times bestselling author of Sleepless City
COZIES AND PETS
Pets are present in many cozies. I believe one reason is because they “humanize” the sleuth. This sleuth may be relentless on a case (like a dog with a bone, pardon the pun), but a pet shows the sleuth’s soft side.
As an animal lover, I’m drawn to people who like animals and a little suspicious of those who don’t. I think many cozy readers are like this. In other mystery genres, such as the thriller, the person solving the murder may not be someone you would necessarily want as your neighbor. In the cozy, the sleuth is usually a likeable person. Having a sleuth with a soft spot for animals makes that character more likeable.
Another reason pets are prominent in cozies is that they often add humor to the book and affect the story’s pace. Cozy fans enjoy reading about pet antics. In all murder mysteries, there are times of high tension, including the finding of a dead body, a narrow escape, and closing in on a killer. Pets often provide short relief from this drama and give the reader a chance to chuckle—if only for a moment.
The role of pets varies from cozy to cozy. In the “cat who” series by the late Lilian Jackson Braun, the cats usually provided clues to the crime. In Rita Mae Brown’s mysteries, crimes are actually solved by a corgi and a cat. In the cozies by Laurien Berenson, the murder always centers on dogs.
In most cases, however, pets are not crime solvers, but simply part of the sleuth’s home life. In the “cat in the stack” series by Miranda James, the Maine coon cat, Diesel, is constantly with Charlie, the librarian/amateur sleuth, but in the series by G.A, MeKevett, her detective has two cats, but they are only mentioned sporadically.
In my “animal lovers series,” my amateur sleuth, Kristy Farrell, has two dogs—Brandy, a collie, and Archie, a large black dog of uncertain heritage who looks like a small bear. Kristy’s daughter has a cat named Owl. These pets appear frequently but not in every chapter. That’s because my cozy mysteries are filled with other animals too. Kristy is a reporter for a wildlife magazine, and her husband and daughter are veterinarians.
My first book, Monkey Business, takes place in a zoo, my second book, Something Fishy occurs in an aquarium (and features two adorable sea lions) and my latest in the series, Playing Possum, is set in a wildlife refuge and its animal rehabilitation center. There are animals in every scene, be it dogs, cats, or possums.
About the author:
A mystery fan since she read her first Nancy Drew, Lois Schmitt combined a love of mysteries with a love of animals in her series featuring animal magazine reporter Kristy Farrell. Lois is member of several wildlife conservation and humane organizations, as well as Mystery Writers of America. She received 2nd runner-up for the Killer Nashville Claymore award for her second book in the series entitled Something Fishy, She previously served as media spokesperson for a local consumer affairs agency and currently teaches at a community college. Lois lives in Massapequa, Long Island with her family, which includes a 120 pound Bernese Mountain dog. This dog bears a striking resemblance to Archie, a dog of many breeds featured in her Kristy Farrell Mystery Series.