Belinda Blake and the Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
By Heather Day Gilbert
An Exotic Pet-Sitter Mystery #2
Lyrical Press, 2019
Exotic pet-sitter Belinda Blake is nervous about her new job at the White Pine Wolf Preserve, but it turns out that the care and feeding of wild carnivores may be the least dangerous part of the gig . . .
Pet-sitter Belinda Blake is no stranger to dealing with wild animals, but she’s wary when the owner of the Greenwich, Connecticut, preserve asks her to help out with her “fluffy darlings.” Her caution seems justified on her very first day, when she discovers a tour guide—dead, bloodied, and surrounded by wolves in the enclosure.
Was it death by predator or something more sinister? The body count rises, but something’s not adding up. As she gets to know the rescued wolves and wolf-dog hybrids better, Belinda realizes that her human colleagues are not above suspicion. With help from her own “pack”—her pregnant sister, Red the chauffeur/bodyguard, and hunky farmer Jonas—Belinda is hot on the killer’s tail, but if she doesn’t find him soon, he’ll do more than muzzle her to keep the truth from escaping.
I was not only pleasantly surprised – but shocked – by how much I enjoyed Belinda Blake and the Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing, book #2 in the Exotic Pet-Sitter mysteries by Heather Day Gilbert. This is a great cozy mystery series, totally different from other books in the genre. Characters are colorful and well-drawn, prose and dialogue flow steadily, and the mystery itself has an emotional, almost haunting, appeal. The author's passion for her subject shines clearly. I have not yet read the previous book, but this story easily stands alone.
Belinda Blake is an appealing leading lady, smart and with an unusual mixture of talents – from video gaming, to a vast knowledge of animals, and even detecting skills. She’s intelligent, quick thinking, and caring of friends and family. I connected with her from the very first sentence … Rainy weather was an introvert’s best friend. Yes!
Belinda is an exotic pet sitter, and that doesn’t mean cats and dogs. In the normal scheme of things, I would not like this series at all. Belinda’s client in the previous book was a snake, and I don’t have adequate words to describe how I feel about reptiles. This story involves wolves, albeit in a wildlife preserve setting, but I don’t have a fondness for this predator either. With a fresh and unique approach, however, the author has created an endearing series with stories that capture the emotions and are hard to put down.
Belinda’s connections place her in two worlds, that of upstate New York and then Greenwich, Connecticut, where this story takes place. A strong supporting cast adds depth, including Belinda’s pregnant sister and a chauffeur with some pretty impressive protective skills. Two guys also seem to be interested in her, a home-town neighbor named Jonas and a wealthy gentleman in Greenwich, Stone Carrington the fifth. I don’t care for love triangles, but don’t really know if there’s one here because Stone only appears briefly in the closing pages. I’m definitely pulling for the warm and caring Jonas, with whom Belinda shares great chemistry.
“I know this sounds impossible – but I think
someone’s framing the wolves.”
Belinda Blake and the Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing is an outstanding cozy mystery and I look forward to much more from Heather Day Gilbert. Highly recommended.
I received a copy of this book through Great Escapes Tours. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.
Heather Day Gilbert, an ECPA Christy award finalist and Grace award winner, writes contemporary mysteries and Viking historicals. Her novels feature small towns, family relationships, and women who aren’t afraid to protect those they love. Like Belinda Blake, Heather plays video games, although so far she hasn’t done any exotic pet-sitting or hunted any murderers.