Of course I enjoyed Blaize Clement's Cat Sitter on a Hot Tin Roof, Book 4 of the Dixie Hemingway series! I love this series. Blaize does such a wonderful job of looking into the human heart, especially exploring issues of pain, loss, grief, and most importantly, recovery from devastating loss and trauma. Dixie is one fictional person I'd love to know in reality. Her sensitivity and dedication to the needs of her animal charges makes her, in my opinion, a better sleuth. She instinctively knows when something is not quite right about both her animal clients as well as the humans who pay for her services. It's not one bit surprising to me to learn that Blaize Clement was a family therapist before she became a professional writer. I knew from the very first book in the Dixie Hemingway series that Blaize had to have at least majored in psychology once upon a time, if not had actual experience as a psychotherapist. I bet she was a cracker jack therapist and families were lucky to have found her.
In this novel, Dixie is presented as a bit lonely and in need of a friend, so much so that she jumps at the chance to claim as a friend a woman she literally runs into. Once they get past the unpleasantness of their abrupt encounter, Dixie finds that this newcomer to the Siesta Key seems to be a kindred spirit. After the devastating loss of her husband and child, Dixie has been hibernating, only gradually coming out of her hiding place and rejoining the world via her pet sitting services. We can see her growth and change through each novel in the series. She has been dealing with her feelings for a couple of good looking men in her life, but in this book, the opening pages show us how desperately she simply needs a friend, not a client or acquaintance. Just someone to kick around with, chat over silly things with, compare likes and dislikes, share your family history and stories, hopes and dreams. Despite being back out in the land of the living and dealing with clients each day, solving local murders, interacting with the police, Dixie has been lonely for simple friendship. Now that really touched a rather sensitive nerve in me and at times reading this book was difficult for that reason. But I kept reading because I knew that, as always, I would learn a good bit about myself through Clement's analysis of Dixie by Dixie. And I was right.
When Laura, the new friend, ends up brutally butchered after she and Dixie have a great girls' night in at Laura's home, Dixie naturally wants to investigate. But as she does her investigation, she finds out that much of what Laura told her was not true and then feels let down and foolish. But as she unravels Laura's mysteries, she also begins to unravel as few of her own inner mysteries and questions about friendship. I love how the two are so gracefully and soundly intertwined. Wish I could write like that.
I suspected the particular family situation revealed at the end of the book, but not everybody would, and knowing whodunit pages before the police arrested the culprit did not spoil the reveal for me at all. The ending was quite satisfying. Particularly her friend Pete's creative use of a saxophone. Loved it!
There is so much to this book to love and much to think about once the covers have been closed.