What’s not to love about Deadly Ties, Susan Holmes first installment in the Waterside Kennels Mystery Series? It has everything I look for in a book: mystery, suspense, romance, animals and family.
Maggie Porter has returned home to renovate and run the Waterside Kennels. Things do not go as smoothly as she hoped it would, especially when a former employee is found dead. And if that was not enough, the dead woman has a matching family heirloom necklace in her pocket. How did she get the necklace, which was in Maggie’s mother possession? The mother who had abandoned Maggie when she was younger to pursue a career as an artist. Her mother has become a very famous artist, who no one has seen in many years. But her paintings have become in high demand and very expensive. Maggie has so many questions she wants answers to, but she needs to find her mother before she can get those answers.
Besides the mystery of who killed her former employee, she also has other problems to deal with. She has a phone stalker, and accidents start happening at the kennel. When an attempt is made on her life, Maggie knows she has serious problems. Good thing she has good friends to help her figure things out.
One of those friends is Zak, who is a divorced father of a young girl, Claire. The three of them begin to build a relationship together, despite the obstacles set before them. Zak is very willing to try and help Maggie figure out all the puzzles in her life and to keep her safe. The romance progresses at a realistic speed, being friends before anything else happens. To me this was very refreshing, instead of the main characters hopping into bed after a few dates, they take the relationship very slowly.
The animals that are in the book are adorable. There are three different dogs that Maggie owns, and each are special in their own way. Sam is the tracker dog, who is very protective of Maggie and those that he loves. Sweet Pea is more like a family dog who is very content to hang out with family and friends, especially with Claire. Mr. B is a retired K-9 dog, who lost his handler and was injured in a drug smuggling bust. Mr. B is a loner who is always on the outskirts of the activity that is going on. Can he be socialized and become a happy dog or is there no hope for him? I hope his story is further developed in the next book. I loved the fact that there were all the different personalities in the dogs, because that is how dogs are. They are all different and have their own unique qualities, one of the many reasons dogs are so great. And this was displayed perfectly in the book.
There is information regarding animal training, tracking and search and rescue. This is an added bonus for me and I think it helps make the book stand out even more. I like learning some of the ins-and-outs of running a kennel and what it takes to make it a standout kennel. Some of the training information are things that anyone can use at home with their own dog and this was a nice added touch. And I love reading anything that involves search and rescue, a topic that fascinates me.
The mystery and suspense are carried out throughout the entire book. With so many possible suspects and numerous twists and turns, it was difficult to figure out the killer. I was pretty sure that I knew who it was, but then something would happen and I started having my doubts. There is also buried treasure and other mysteries surrounding some folk lore and these are tied up neatly at the end.
The writing style flows smoothly and the book is an easy read. The author has a very descriptive writing style and that helped to draw me into the story. I felt like I was watching the action taking place in front of me and not just reading about it. This is another thing I really like about the book. The book was a clean read and the author did not resort to using foul language or over-the-top sexual situations, she used her talent to write a great book.
I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a great cozy mystery with twists and turns. I think anyone who is an animal lover (especially dogs) will really enjoy this book. I am looking forward to the next book in the series and I am hoping there will be many more books to come.