The Cat Sitter's Pajamas (Dixie Hemingway Series #7)

( 10 )

Overview

Things are getting messier than kitty litter for Florida’s famous pet sitter in

 

THE Cat sitter’S PAJAMAs

Dixie Hemingway, no relation to you-know-who, accepts a job taking care of celebrity linebacker Cupcake Trillin’s cats while he’s away. What seems like a simple cat-sitting job turns scary when Dixie finds a high-profile fashion model in Cupcake’s house. The woman refuses to leave and she ...

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The Cat Sitter's Pajamas (Dixie Hemingway Series #7)

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Overview

Things are getting messier than kitty litter for Florida’s famous pet sitter in

 

THE Cat sitter’S PAJAMAs

Dixie Hemingway, no relation to you-know-who, accepts a job taking care of celebrity linebacker Cupcake Trillin’s cats while he’s away. What seems like a simple cat-sitting job turns scary when Dixie finds a high-profile fashion model in Cupcake’s house. The woman refuses to leave and she also claims to be Cupcake’s wife. Only problem? Dixie has met Cupcake’s wife—and she’s not this woman. Before long Dixie is spun into the world of counterfeit high fashion…and a whole lot of cat fur. When a valuable list of fake-merchandise sellers goes missing, the criminals go after Dixie. Just when she thought she could have her (cup)cake and eat it too, Dixie finds herself with her tail between her legs. Can she claw her way out of this one?

“For anyone who loves mysteries, animals, or just plain great writing.”

—Laurien Berenson, author of Doggie Day Care Murder

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
PRAISE FOR BLAIZE CLEMENT AND

CAT SITTER AMONG THE PIGEONS

Dixie’s latest adventure keeps you glued to your seat from the first chapter.”—Kirkus Reviews

“A riveting and rewarding read.”—Richmond Times-Dispatch

RAINING CAT SITTERS AND DOGS

“Another enjoyable tale from Blaize Clement.”—Kirkus Reviews

 “Smooth prose, a lush background...a fine-feathered read.”—Publishers Weekly

 

CAT SITTER ON A HOT TIN ROOF

“Thoughtful and compelling.”—Publishers Weekly

“A feel-good [series]…Recommend this one for readers who liked the southern setting and animal characters in Joyce and Jim Lavene’s The Telltale Turtle.” —Booklist

EVEN CAT SITTERS GET THE BLUES

“Gutsy, sexy…Dixie is Siesta Key’s favorite pet sitter.”—Sarasota Herald-Tribune

“Blends elements of cozy and thriller to produce an unusual and enjoyable hybrid . . . sure to delight readers.”—Publishers Weekly

“For fans of Susan Conant and Clea Simon.”—Library Journal

“Ingenious…captivating. Here is a series that even people who dislike pet mysteries can enjoy.”

Reviewing the Evidence

 “Will have readers begging for more treats.”—Lansing State Journal

DUPLICITY DOGGED THE DACHSHUND

“Fast paced…the canine caper crowd will enjoy Florida’s leading pet-sitter.”—Midwest Book Review

“Clement’s fast-paced sophomore effort…builds suspense and delivers startling revelations.”

Publishers Weekly

Publishers Weekly
At the start of Clement’s engaging seventh Dixie Hemingway mystery (after 2011’s Cat Sitter Among the Pigeons), Dixie is surprised to find a nearly naked woman, supermodel Briana, at the gated Siesta Key, Fla., home of vacationing pro football star Cupcake Trillin and his wife, Jancey, whose cats Dixie’s pet-sitting,. After Briana claims to be Cupcake’s wife, Dixie steps outside and phones Cupcake, who tells her to call the police. When Dixie re-enters with Deputy Jesse Morgan, Briana has fled and there’s a dead woman lying in the living room. Briana later spins a tale of woe, and Dixie becomes enmeshed in the troubled model’s complicated mix of lies and truths. One of Dixie’s feline charges holds an important clue, though the final revelation will surprise few. Clement (1932–2011) left two forthcoming mysteries, and her son, John, has contracted to write more books in this animal-centric cozy series. (Jan.)
From the Publisher
Unanimous Praise for Blaize Clement’s Dixie Hemingway Mysteries

Curiosity Killed the Cat Sitter

“A knock-out read. For anyone who loves mysteries, animals, or just plain great writing, this is a book to savor.”

—-Laurien Berenson, author of Doggie Day Care Murder

"At once a cozy mystery for animal lovers and a jarringly earthy hard-boiled whodunit about human corruption. A good read!"

—-Susan Conant, author of All Shots

Even Cat Sitters Get the Blues

“Blends elements of cozy and thriller to produce an unusual and enjoyable hybrid . . . sure to delight readers.”

—-Publishers Weekly

“For fans of Susan Conant and Clea Simon.”

—-Library Journal

“Great ingredients and a fun plot. Frankly, I can’t wait for the sequel!

— Linda Fasulo, NPR

Cat Sitter on a Hot Tin Roof

“Fast-paced and gripping… it’s everything Blaize Clement’s many fans have come to expect.”

—Fantastic Fiction

Cat Sitter Among the Pigeons

“A compelling plot, familiar characters we greet with fondness and a wealth of Sarasota-area color… Another riveting and rewarding read.”

Richmond Times-Dispatch

Kirkus Reviews
A Florida pet sitter is involved in yet another strange murder case. Two cats await Dixie Hemingway at the house of one of her favorite clients, pro football player Cupcake Trillin, who's vacationing in Italy with his wife Jancey. Waiting along with them is a near-naked woman who introduces herself as Briana and claims to be Cupcake's wife. Dixie calls first Cupcake and than the police, who enter only to find Briana gone and an unidentified woman dead on the floor. When Dixie leaves to take the cats to a sitter, Briana follows her, denies killing the woman and pleads for help. She maintains that she was Cupcake's friend when they were both growing up poor in Louisiana. Perhaps her former life as a police officer leaves Dixie open to such pleas, but it also leads her into many a dangerous situation. Questioned by an Interpol agent on loan to the FBI, Dixie realizes that this is more than a case of a disturbed woman and a simple murder. When she is attacked and her apartment ransacked, it only makes her more anxious to discover who is behind the murder and what the killer wants from her. Not on a par with Clement's best (Cat Sitter Among the Pigeons, 2011, etc.), but still full of interesting characters, both human and animal, and descriptions of Siesta Key that may have you booking a vacation.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781250016317
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 11/27/2012
  • Series: Dixie Hemingway Series , #7
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 258,260
  • Product dimensions: 4.10 (w) x 6.70 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

BLAIZE CLEMENT is the author of Curiosity Killed the Cat Sitter, Duplicity Dogged the Dachshund, Even Cat Sitters Get the Blues, Cat Sitter on a Hot Tin Roof, Raining Cat Sitters and Dogs, and Cat Sitter Among the Pigeons.

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Read an Excerpt

1

 

 

When you live in a resort area, every third person you meet on the street may be somebody famous. Here in Sarasota, which probably has more famous personalities per capita than any other city in the world, you might sit beside Toby and Itzhak Perlman in a movie theater or see Stephen King in Circle Books on St. Armands Key. We locals stay cool about it. We don’t run up to them and gush like yokels. We just dip our heads in silent respect and hope they notice how generous we are to grant them privacy. If we should become friends with one of them, the way I did with Cupcake Trillin and his wife, Jancey, we don’t go around bragging about it. We treat them like any other friend, but we’re always aware that fate has given them an extra allotment of talent or looks or determination that the rest of us don’t have.

I’m Dixie Hemingway, no relation to you-know-who, that other famous Floridian. I live on Siesta Key, which is one of the semitropical barrier islands off Sarasota—the others being Casey, Bird, Lido, St. Armands, and Longboat. Connected by two drawbridges, Siesta is the closest to the mainland, and in most respects, it’s like a small town. People gather for sand-sculpting contests, Fourth of July fireworks, and Christmas tree lighting. They run with their dogs on the beach, walk to the post office inside Davidson Drugs, gossip over coffee at one of our gourmet coffee shops. So far, we’ve been able to keep chain stores off the island, and we’re proud that all our businesses are locally owned. Except in “season,” when snowbirds come, the key is home to about seven thousand people. During season, we swell to about twenty-four thousand, and traffic and tempers get a little quicker.

I live here for the same reason so many famous people have second or third or maybe eighth homes here—because it’s a paradise of riotous colors, balmy sea breezes, cool talcum sand beaches, and every songbird and seabird you can think of. Snowy egrets walk around in our parking lots, great blue herons stand vigil on people’s lawns, and if we look up we see the silhouette of frigate birds flying above the clouds like ships without a home.

My only claims to fame are that once I went totally bonkers while TV cameras rolled, and later I killed a man. I was a sheriff’s deputy when I went crazy, but I didn’t kill anybody until after I’d got myself more or less together and became a pet sitter. Pet sitting is a lot more dangerous than people think.

Cupcake Trillin’s fame came from being an immovable inside linebacker for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He’s the size of a walk-in closet and has one of the tenderest hearts in the universe. He and I became friends when we rescued the baby of his best friend.

He and Jancey had left their two cats, Elvis and Lucy, in my care while they spent a two-week vacation in Parma, Italy. For Jancey, it was a long-planned chance to learn to make authentic Italian dishes. For Cupcake, it was a last-minute change of plans—he’d been widely reported to be attending a private meeting of fellow athletes who sponsored a camp for disadvantaged kids—but a welcome opportunity to get personal with honest-to-God prosciutto and Parmesan cheese.

The Trillins lived on the south end of the Key in an exclusive gated community called Hidden Shores. Since the famous and rich are always on guard against intruders, the main difference between Hidden Shores and a maximum security prison is that it costs big bucks to be confined in Hidden Shores. In addition to a security gate, a tall stucco wall hung with riotous bougainvillea and trumpet vine surrounds the area. Those pretty flowers conceal coiled razor ribbon.

Cupcake and Jancey had been in Italy a week on the Tuesday morning when their lives and mine took a sudden turn. It was early, with a few horsetail clouds fanning a mango sky, when I drove up to the Hidden Shores gatehouse. I punched in my temporary security code and watched the gate slide open. In our humid climate, most entry gates are built of aluminum, but this one had been powder coated to look like wrought iron. A good seven feet tall, it had sharp spikes at the top to discourage anybody rash enough to think about climbing it. As it opened, I kept one eye on the rearview mirror in case a robber or serial killer tried to whip around my Bronco and race through ahead of me—places like Hidden Shores are guaranteed to make anybody paranoid.

A human is usually at the gate, but at that hour the gate was unmanned. I guess the security people figure robbers work nine to five. As I pulled through the opened gate, my name, the time, and the date were electronically recorded at a security company’s office. More than likely, my photo had also been snapped by a hidden camera.

In the Trillins’ driveway, I took a moment to flip open my notebook to remind myself of my temporary house code number, then hustled up the path to the front door. I was humming under my breath when I punched in my code. I think I was still humming when I turned the doorknob and pushed the door open, but the instant I stepped into the foyer I froze.

Houses have signature odors as distinctive as a human’s individual scent. I couldn’t have accurately described the unique breath of the Trillins’ house, but I knew it well enough to detect a change in it.

At about the same instant I realized an intruder was in the house, a willowy woman with skim-milky skin stepped from the living room into the foyer. Her long titian hair was lit by subtle hues that only occur on very small children and women with expensive colorists. She wore bright scarlet lipstick, and her fingernails and toenails were the same bright red. Except for an oversized, brightly printed man’s shirt hanging unbuttoned from her narrow shoulders, she was naked.

I tried not to look, but it’s not every day you run into a naked woman with a Brazilian wax job in the shape of a valentine heart. The pubic heart was red like her hair, which made the old naughty doggerel run through my head: Mix another batch and dye your snatch to match!

She gave me a gracious, hostessy smile and extended a limp hand as if she expected me to cross the foyer and shake it.

In a husky, seductive voice, she said, “I’m Briana.”

Under the terms of my contract with my clients, I make it clear that I need the names of all the people who have permission to come in while they’re gone. Otherwise, if I find anybody in the house, I’ll take them as unlawful intruders and act accordingly.

I said, “I can’t let you stay here without the owner’s permission.”

Her smile grew more serene. “You don’t understand. I’m Cupcake’s wife.”

I said, “That will come as a surprise to the wife with him right now.”

Her eyes clouded in momentary confusion. “Excuse me?”

My throat tightened. The woman seemed to really believe what she’d said.

From somewhere in the house, a faint noise sounded—the click a refrigerator door makes when it’s surreptitiously closed, maybe, or the snick! from unlocking a glass slider to a lanai.

Without another word, I stepped backward and pulled the door shut behind me. Outside, I took out my cell phone to call the cops, and then hesitated. Ordinary people can have intruders in their house and it never makes the papers. Cupcake was famous, and reporters would salivate at a report of a naked woman in his house while he and his wife were away.

Instead of dialing 911, I called Cupcake.

Cupcake answered with a note of concern in his voice. “Dixie?”

For some reason, I was surprised that caller ID worked all the way across the Atlantic.

I said, “There’s a woman in your house. She says her name is Briana. I think somebody else may be in there, too.”

Cupcake said, “Oh, ma-a-a-an.”

He sounded like a kid learning his ball game has been called off.

He lowered the phone to yell at his wife. “Jancey, it’s Dixie. There’s another woman. This one broke into the house.”

Jancey took the phone. “She’s in our house?”

I said, “I’m afraid so.”

Cupcake said something too muffled for me to hear, and Jancey quit talking to me to talk to him.

“Are you kidding me? She’s in our house, Cupcake! In our shower! Sleeping in our bed! And you want to protect her?”

I grinned. Cupcake’s tender heart sometimes forces Jancey to play the heavy.

There were some more muffled sounds, probably Cupcake wresting the phone from her.

He said, “Those women that stalk us have to be some kind of sick. I feel sorry for them.”

Jancey yelled, “They stalk Cupcake, not me!”

Cupcake sighed. “Call the police, but try to get them to commit her or put her in a hospital or something.”

I said, “She acted like she knew you. Do you know anybody named Briana?”

“Never heard of her.”

Jancey got on the phone again. “Dixie, get that woman out of my house. Are the cats okay?”

“I haven’t seen them yet. I came outside to call you as soon as she told me she was Cupcake’s wife.”

“She said what? Oh my God!”

I could have slapped myself for telling her that. What woman wants to hear that another woman is going around claiming her husband? But it was done, and I couldn’t take it back. At least I hadn’t told about the woman being naked, or about the huge shirt she’d worn. I was pretty sure the shirt was one of Cupcake’s.

I hurried to tell Jancey I would have the woman taken away, got off the line, and called 911.

“I’m a pet sitter, and I just walked in on an intruder in a client’s house. A woman. She seemed mentally disturbed and should be handled with care. There may be another person in the house as well.”

I gave the address, but when the dispatcher asked for the homeowner’s name, I tried to distract her.

“It’s a gated community. Whoever comes will have to use a code to get in. I guess they could use mine.”

Crisply, the dispatcher said, “No problem, ma’am. We have our own code. A deputy will be there shortly.”

I grinned and shut off the phone. I knew about the bar code affixed to the side of every Sarasota County emergency and law enforcement vehicle. As the vehicle approaches the gate, an electronic reader scans the code and automatically opens the gate.

I also knew that reporters with police scanners listened to 911 calls. I doubted that any of them knew Cupcake’s address, and I didn’t think they’d go to the effort of looking up the address I’d given the dispatcher. At least I hoped they wouldn’t. I hoped they’d yawn and wait for something juicier than a cat sitter calling about an intruder. If the stars were in the right alignment for Cupcake, the woman in his house would be hustled off without the world ever knowing she’d been there.

I waited in the Bronco, imagining Briana inside the house wondering why I was still there. Or maybe she wasn’t. She had seemed so spaced out that she might have forgotten me as soon as I left. Cupcake was right, the woman was mentally ill. Jancey was probably right, too. The woman had probably been in their bed and in their shower.

Deputy Jesse Morgan and an unsworn female deputy from the Community Policing unit arrived in separate cars, both parking behind me in the driveway and walking toward me with the near swagger that uniforms give both men and women. I didn’t know the woman, but Morgan and I had met a few times in situations I didn’t want to remember. I was never sure if he thought I was a total kook or if he thought I just had really bad luck.

Morgan is one of Siesta Key’s sworn deputies, meaning he carries a gun. He’s lean, with sharp cheekbones and knuckles, and hair trimmed so short as to be almost nonexistent. He wears dark mirrored shades that hide any emotion in his eyes, but one ear sports a small diamond stud. I’m not sure what that diamond says, but it’s about the only thing about Morgan that indicates a personal life outside the sheriff’s department. The Key has so little true crime that most of our law enforcement is done by the unsworn deputies of the Community Policing unit, like the woman with him. Community Police officers wear dark green shorts and white knit shirts. Except for a gun, their belts bristle with the same equipment used by the sworn deputies.

Morgan greeted me with the halfhearted enthusiasm with which a dog greets a vet wearing rubber gloves and holding a syringe. Civil, but pretty sure he’s not going to like what’s coming. He introduced Deputy Clara Beene, and she and I did a brief handshake. Beene seemed more intrigued by the house and grounds than by me, so I figured she had never heard of me. Like I said, my fame is very limited.

I said, “I’m taking care of two cats that live here. When I went in, I found a woman in the house. She claimed to be the wife of the owner, but I know she’s not. I think somebody else was in there, too. I came out and called the owners. They don’t know who the woman is. They think she must be mentally disturbed, and they asked for her to be committed to a hospital or something instead of put in jail.”

Morgan tilted his head to peer down at me. If I’d been able to see his eyes, I imagine they would have had a sharp glint in them. We both knew how hard it is for law enforcement officers to do anything constructive about lawbreakers who are mentally ill. Under Florida law, a cop who believes a person is about to commit suicide or kill somebody can initiate the Baker Act that involuntarily commits a person for testing. The commitment period lasts only seventy-two hours, and unless two psychiatrists petition the court to extend the commitment time for involuntary treatment, the person is released.

I doubted that Briana would be considered an imminent threat to herself or anybody else. More likely, she would be considered an extreme neurotic with a delusional crush on a famous athlete.

Without commenting on what he thought about trying to get Briana hospitalized, Morgan flipped open his notebook and clicked his pen. “What made you think somebody else was in the house with the woman?”

“Just a noise I heard. Like maybe somebody unlocking the lanai slider. It could have been something else.”

“But you didn’t see anybody else.”

“No, it was just a little clicking noise.”

“What’s the homeowner’s name?”

“Trillin.”

He lowered his pen and angled his head at me. “Cupcake Trillin?”

“I hope we can keep this out of the news.”

His jawbone jutted out a bit, like he’d just bit down hard on his back teeth. “I’ll just put ‘Trillin’ as the owner’s name. You ever see the woman inside before?”

“No. She said her name was Briana.”

“Briana who?”

Beene, the Community Policing woman, said, “She just goes by Briana. That one name. She’s a famous model.”

Morgan and I turned to look at her, and she shrugged. “I watch Entertainment Tonight.”

Morgan’s nostrils flared slightly as if it might be against department policy to watch shows like that.

“So?”

“So she’s here in Sarasota. I heard it on the news.”

Beene looked from Morgan to me. “You must have heard of her. She was all over the news last year. You know, she’s the model that caused a big stink at the fashion show in Milan.”

Morgan and I shook our heads. I might have heard about somebody in a cat show who’d made the news, but fashion shows were out of my world.

As if he had heard all he could stand about fashion models, Morgan put his pen and pad away and took a deep breath. With Beene a step behind him, he strode manfully to the door and rapped on it.

He yelled, “Sarasota Sheriff’s Department!”

The door didn’t open. No sound came from inside.

Morgan waited a few seconds, then knocked and shouted again. Nobody answered.

I felt a little shiver of guilty relief. Briana and whoever had been in the house with her had probably slipped out the back door while I watched the front. Maybe they were halfway to Tampa by now. Maybe they would never come back. Maybe Briana had learned her lesson and would stop stalking Cupcake.

Morgan turned to look at me as if it were my fault nobody had answered the door. “You got a key?”

“I have a security code.”

“Please use it.”

Feeling important under their gaze, I stepped forward and punched in my special number. The lock clicked, and I turned the knob and opened the door. Morgan motioned me aside, and he and Beene went into the house.

Once again, intuition or subliminal cues made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, as if trouble was barreling toward me.

I said, “Don’t let the cats out.”

My sixth sense was right about trouble coming, but it wasn’t two runaway cats.

 

Copyright © 2011 by Blaize Clement

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Customer Reviews

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2012

    Keep them coming!

    I just never get tired of Dixie Hemingway's adventures! I hope this series continues on and on. It would seem by now the series would become redundant or predictable, but not so with Dixie. Love the wittiness, love the relationships we get to revisit with each new book in this series, and I'm always left anxiously waiting for the next one!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 4, 2013

    I got to page 33 where Briana asks Dixie to meet with her. Inst

    I got to page 33 where Briana asks Dixie to meet with her. Instead of calling the police Dixie meets with the woman.


    I put the book aside in disgust.
    Dixie betrayed her friends the Trillins and in a certain way she betrayed her friend Paco by not calling the police. Dixie understands mental illness (according to her insights) and wants to help the woman, but the best way to have helped the woman would be to contact the police. I finally finished the book and the story was intriguing, but I'm not sure I'll read anymore of the series. Dixie hasn't really grown as a character and I'm not sure I would want a friend like Dixie.

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  • Posted January 4, 2013

    If you love light mysteries...

    As always, Blaize Clement delivers a simple, entertaining mystery with interesting characters. All of the favorites are there, along with the usual pets and intrigue. I read it all in one day, easily. Sometimes you just want a light "mystery snack," and the Dixie Hemmingway series hits the spot.

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  • Posted September 22, 2012

    I haven't finished reading this book yet, but so far I'm enjoyin

    I haven't finished reading this book yet, but so far I'm enjoying it as much as I did all of the previous Cat Sitter books.

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