Panther Play For Keeps The panther is like a leopard,
Except it hasn’t been peppered.
Should you behold a panther crouch,
Prepare to say Ouch.
Better yet, if called by a panther,
Don’t anther.

Ogden Nash thought he was being funny. I don’t. You see, panthers are wild animals, and wild animals kill. Not like we humans kill – out of greed or lust or anger. But because they have to in order to eat or to defend themselves. Animals, as I’ve often noted, have more sense than we do.

Not that this is helping me now. You see, something has gone wrong here in Beauville. This is a small town, prone to the usual small-town vices. Yeah, you’ve got it: greed and lust and anger. But a panther attack? That’s a bit out of the ordinary, even in my line of work.

I’m Pru, Pru Marlowe. You could say I’m the local animal expert out here in the Berkshires. Raccoon in your attic? I’ll help you out. Puppy soiling the carpet? I’m good with that, too. Panthers, though, they’re a different story. And as much as I keep telling everyone that the Eastern puma is probably extinct – that nobody’s seen one here in Massachusetts for more than two hundred years – there’s no denying those deep claw marks, or the body of the lovely young woman that I found out in the woods this morning, while I was exercising Spot, the guide dog I’m currently training.

Something killed that girl. Something angry. And while I know Wallis, the tabby who cohabits with me, is going to be pissed about it, I’ve got to get involved. You see, animals – that’s my specialty. And while I don’t think that a panther is behind what happened out there, I do know that someone is going to make a poor animal pay.

You can read more about Pru’s adventures in Panthers Play for Keeps, the fourth “Pru Marlowe” pet noir coming from Poisoned Pen Press this April. The first in the series is Dogs Don’t Lie, and the books (all of which feature Pru and her tabby Wallis) are available at bookstores and online outlets.

Comment on this post by 6pm EST on April 14 and you will be entered to win a signed copy of PANTHERS PLAY FOR KEEPS. The winner will be chosen at random. Unless specified, U.S. entries only.

Meet the author
Clea Simon is the author of 15 mysteries in the Theda Krakow(4), Dulcie Schwartz (7), and Pru Marlowe pet noir (4) series, as well as three nonfiction books. The latter two mystery series are ongoing and include her most recent books, Grey Howl (Severn House) and Panthers Play for Keeps (Poisoned Pen Press). A former journalist and nonfiction author, she lives in Somerville, Mass., with her husband, the writer Jon Garelick, and their cat Musetta. She can be reached at and is on Twitter.

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