Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Researching Murder, Paws For Murder, Giveaway

Note: The winner of this giveaway is Dalene H. Congratulations Dalene and thanks to everyone who entered this giveaway.

I’m delighted today to be participating in author Annie Knox’s Blog Tour for her new cozy mystery series that debuts today with the first installment, PAWS FOR MURDER.

In celebration of the tour, thanks to Annie and the delightful Danielle at Penguin Group, I have a copy of PAWS FOR MURDER to giveaway to a lucky visitor to this post. Please see the end of the post for the giveaway details.

PAWS FOR MURDER (Obsidian Mass Market; $7.99; 978-0-451-23950-1; January 7, 2014) is the first in a cozy new mystery series featuring a pet boutique! 

Izzy McHale wants her new Trendy Tails Pet Boutique in Merryville, Minnesota, to be the height of canine couture and feline fashions. But at the store’s opening, it turns out it’s a human who’s dressed to kill…

        Izzy’s own beloved pets are dressed to the nines for the grand opening of Trendy Tails. Feisty feline Jinx is large and in charge, and happy mutt Packer is lapping up the attention. Izzy and her best friend Rena have their hands full meeting Merryville’s menagerie and serving tasty pupcakes and kitty canapes from their “barkery.” The last thing they need is the town’s local activist, Sherry Harper, scaring off customers and getting tongues wagging by picketing the event.
        The two manage to stop Sherry’s protest in its tracks, but the trouble for Trendy Tails is just beginning. Sherry is found murdered in back of the shop, and Rena is immediately named as the lead suspect. Now Izzy and her furry friends have a new pet project—collaring a killer.

Annie joins us today to talk about ‘researching murder’ and I’ll share my thoughts on this fun new book.

Researching Murder

Writing PAWS FOR MURDER, the first in the Pet Boutique Mysteries, required a fair amount of research … certainly more than I originally expected.

First, I had to research all the critters. I have cats, and I’ve had dogs in the past, but Izzy McHale’s Trendy Tails caters to all sorts of animals. I learned about different types of ferrets (thank you, Internet), what it’s like to own an iguana for a pet (thank you, husband), and what all the animals in the book like to eat (hello, again, Internet!).

Then, of course, I had to research the murder itself. I spent hours settling on just the right poison to use to kill off my victim. It had to be readily available to my murderer, it had to be truly deadly, and it had to be something my murderer could get my victim to consume. Matching victim, killer, and weapon takes careful planning.

The vast majority of the time I spent researching, however, I spent learning about Minnesota. I’ve lived in way north Minnesota (about an hour north of Duluth), and I’ve lived in the Twin Cities, but I’ve never lived in north central Minnesota. More importantly, while I’ve never lived in Merryville, Minnesota. Since PAWS FOR MURDER is the first in this series, I needed to do my homework to create a believable community that was more than just a flat backdrop for the murder, a place that felt authentic.

Paws for Murder coverI had a blast creating Merryville, an outdoorsman’s paradise situated on the bank of the Mighty Mississippi. I learned about hunting seasons, the indigenous flora and fauna, and even some of the history of the area during the early twentieth century. I checked average temperatures and charts of daylight hours. I even had to research several legal issues related to land use and the environment.

Did all my research find its way into the book? Actually, no. The historical angle I pursued for a while didn’t pan out. But, still, the knowledge helped shape my understanding of this tiny tourist community. And, who knows … that historical trivia might pop up in future Pet Boutique Mysteries.

While not every bit of research pops out of the pages of PAWS FOR MURDER, every bit of it was essential. I needed context (legal, geographical, historical) to make Merryville a unique place, not just “Anytown, USA.” I hope I made it into a charming place, a place readers will want to visit again and again.

Annie, thanks for joining us today and sharing this insight into researching murder. There are so many minor details that you have to cover to make the story flow smoothly.


While Annie Knox does not commit--or solve--murders in real life, her love of animals is 100% real. She's also passionately devoted to 80s music, Asian horror films, and reality TV.

Annie, her husband, and their spoiled cats (Todd, Iphy, and Squeak-a-doodle) make their home in a small town in north Texas, just blocks from the town’s courthouse square.

For more on Annie and her writing, visit her website. BTW, Annie Knox is the pseudonym for Wendy Lyn Watson.

You can also follow Annie on her PAWS FOR MURDER blog tour with this scheduled:

01/02/13 (Thursday) - Fresh Fiction
01/03/13 (Friday) - Lori’s Reading Corner
01/06/13 (Monday) - Stuff and Nonsense
01/07/13 (Tuesday) - Dru’s Book Musing
01/08/13 (Wednesday) - Mochas, Mysteries and More, and Socrates’ Book Reviews
01/09/13 (Thursday) - Lesa’s Book Critiques
01/10/13 (Friday) - Eclectic Passions, and Book Dilettante


Opening a pet boutique may sound like a risky business, but for author Annie Knox it’s a successful move for a new cozy murder mystery series.

PAWS FOR MURDER is the first installment in Knox’s delightful new Pet Boutique Mystery series. It’s a refreshing take on murder, mystery and pet owners’ devotion.

Izzy Hale and her best friend Rena are busy getting ready for the grand opening of Izzy’s pet boutique, Trendy Tails. The last thing Izzy needs is Sherry Harper, the town’s local activist, picketing the event.

They manage to stop Sherry from protesting. However, the trouble really begins when Sherry is found murdered in the alley behind the shop and Rena becomes the prime suspect. It’s up to Izzy and her beloved pets, Jinx the large cat and Packer the happy mutt, to find the real killer before Rena is collared for the murder.

Knox has created a core of characters, along with her perky protagonist, that are down-to-earth, a bit zany and extremely likable. The way in which the characters interact draws you into their lives and the drama of small town Merryville.

The story, moving at a steady pace, offers more than just a murder to solve. It features business-related issues, relationship problems, and how pets influence daily lives. There are ins and outs along the way to add to the intrigue.

PAWS FOR MURDER is a charming read and a enchanting start to a rich new series. You don’t have to be an animal lover to enjoy this amusing read.
Paws For Murder by Annie Knox, A Pet Boutique Mystery, Obsidian, @2014, ISBN: 978-0451239501, Paperback, 320 Pages 

FTC Full Disclosure - This book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.


This giveaway is for one copy of PAWS FOR MURDER and the contest is open to residents of the U.S. only.

To enter, please send me an e-mail (mcbookshelf@gmail.com) with the subject line, “Win Paws for Murder.” Your message should include your name and mailing address. The deadline to enter this giveaway for a chance to win a copy of PAWS FOR MURDER is 8 p.m. (EST) on Wednesday, Jan. 15.

Thanks so much for stopping by today. Are you the type that enjoys doing research or do you just find it time-consuming? Do you pamper your pet?


  1. Mason - Thanks for hosting Annie.

    Annie - Thanks for sharing your experience doing the research for Paws For Murder. I couldn't agree more that 'doing the homework' is essential for any good book, no matter what the topic. I wish you success.

  2. Annie, thanks again for joining us today. It's so interesting learning how research is done for a book. Wishing you much success with this new series.

  3. Thanks for having me, Mason. And thank you too, Margot, for stopping by to say hello!

  4. I love research (part of my job) because you never know what information you find while looking for something else.

    Much success to Annie on this wonderful book.

  5. I love research if given the time. I love learning new things! Good luck to Annie on the new series!


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.