Considering how things ended up, it’s hard to believe this day started out so well.

Early spring always fills me with optimism, and this morning I had even more reason to be cheerful. Two new callers had inquired about the boarding and grooming services offered at my shop, Cassie’s Comfy Cats, and made appointments. Plus, I’d be interviewing yet another potential assistant at ten o’clock. I’d rejected two hopefuls so far, both younger than me—and I’m only twenty-seven. One didn’t seem to know or care that much about cats and the other acted enthusiastic but ditsy. Today’s candidate was an older woman, though, so maybe she’d be different.

Turns out, I finally struck gold with Sarah Wilcox, a retired math teacher who’d worked in inner-city schools. Maybe because of that background, and because she’d had cats of her own, a hissing tabby didn’t rattle her too much. I also liked her intelligent, responsible and slightly old-fashioned style. I told her she could start tomorrow.

I’ve been operating my shop in the small, picturesque town of Chadwick, New Jersey for four months, and as the business grew it got harder to function on my own. Hiring an assistant meant I’d finally have someone to help hold the cats while I groomed. I’d also be able to run an errand without locking my door and possibly discouraging customers.

For example, today I had to close early to make a house call. I do that for only one client—George DeLeuw, a semi-retired Wall Street executive who lives on the outskirts of town. His McMansion is filled with fabulous artworks, from pre-Colombian to contemporary; I studied art in college, so when I go there I gawk like a kid in a candy store. He’s also got a fully equipped grooming studio for his Persian cat, Harpo (DeLeuw tried grooming Harpo himself until I moved into town). The job suits me fine, because Harpo is as calm and friendly as he is beautiful. I comb the mats out of his dense fur twice a month, and DeLeuw pays generously, which has helped keep me in business.

This afternoon I drove along the main street of our quaint, semi-historic town, past flowering cherry trees, and thought things were finally going my way. Guess I jinxed myself! When I pulled up to DeLeuw’s house, I found Harpo hiding in the bushes, though he’s not allowed outside. The front door stood ajar, so I brought the cat in and followed him down the marble-tiled front hall to the study. There, my best client lay face-down on the oriental carpet, dead, an ugly gash across the back of his head.

Now I sit across from a police detective being interviewed as a witness…or maybe as a suspect! Meanwhile, my mind races with questions. Who would kill DeLeuw, a fairly quiet older guy who lived alone? Did he catch someone trying to steal one of his artworks—in the middle of the afternoon, with his landscaper and his housekeeper both working on the premises? Did his ex-wife drop by to even up some old grudge?

How badly would this loss of income set back my fledgling business? And last but not least, from my standpoint, would anyone step up to take care of Harpo?

You can read more about Cassie in The Persian Always Meows Twice, the first book in the NEW “Cat Groomer” mystery series.

Cat lovers are thrilled to welcome an expert groomer to the picturesque town of Chadwick. But scratch below the surface, and unmasking a killer becomes a game of cat and mouse . . .

Professional cat grooming isn’t all fluff—when the fur starts flying, Cassie McGlone, owner of Cassie’s Comfy Cats, handles her feistiest four-legged clients with a caring touch and nerves of steel. While these qualities help keep her business purring, they also come in handy when she makes a house call to her best client, millionaire George DeLeuw, and discovers his murdered body next to his newly orphaned Persian, Harpo.

To help the local police find the actual killer, Cassie begins her own investigation. But no one, from George’s housekeeper to his vindictive ex-wife, is giving up clues. Not until Cassie is given permission to temporarily board Harpo does anyone show interest in the Persian’s well-being. Someone is desperate to get their paws on Harpo before the feline helps untangle a felony. Are there deadly truths that a cat whisperer like Cassie can coax out? She needs to tread lightly and remember she gets one life, not nine. . . .

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About the author
Eileen Watkins worked for daily newspapers for most of her career, writing and editing stories on fine art, architecture, interior design, and home improvement. She has also published paranormal mystery and suspense novels. A confirmed “Jersey Girl,” she prefers older houses, has always shared her home with at least one cat, and makes frequent visits to the nearest riding stable. She is a member of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America.

Visit her at or on Facebook as E. F. Watkins.

All comments are welcomed.

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