Unusual Pets in Mysteries

Two of my favorite mystery writers feature unusual pets in their sure-to-please-animal-lovers stories. Last week I mentioned Clea Simon‘s great way with cats, but her “Pet-Noir” series with Pru Marlowe includes much more than your typical domestic fare.

Photo by Mika Hiltunen via Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Mika Hiltunen via Wikimedia Commons

My favorite non-cat regular in this series has to be Frank the Ferret, who lives in the local deputy’s desk drawer and has considerably more smarts than his rather dimwitted keeper. Many the clue’s been passed from Frank to Pru, who has the rather unusual talent of being able to tune into animals’ thoughts. Since Frank is so much smarter than the deputy, we may safely assume that he’s actually happy with his living arrangements. If he weren’t, Pru would sense it, and happily assist with his break-out.

Sandra Parshall‘s Rachel Goddard mysteries are somewhat darker, but veterinarian heroine Rachel and her boyfriend, local sheriff Tom Bridger, still always manage to see that justice prevails. Between them, Rachel and Tom have the usual cat and dog pets (see the recent “interview” given by Tom’s dog, Billy Bob in Dru’s Book Musings), but the member of their household who stands out the most in my mind  is Cicero the parrot.

photo by Selvejp via Wikimedia Commons

photo by Selvejp via Wikimedia Commons

In a recent book, Cicero saved the day when his alarmed squacks alerted Rachel to a nighttime fire in her house set by the villain du jour. Cicero’s narrow escape added to the reader’s anxieties (and to Rachel’s as well). Every book seems to feature at least a cameo appearance by Cicero, who has quite the personality.

What other unusual animal characters do you know of that have appeared in mysteries (or any other fiction, for that matter)? I’d like to know!

Clea Simon’s most recent release is GREY HOWL in the Dulcie Schwartz series, with a new Pru Marlowe soon to follow. Look for her interview here on the blog the first week of April.

The latest book in Sandra Parshall’s Rachel Goddard series is POISONED GROUND. Root for Rachel as she confronts a no-good developer! If you haven’t read this series, you’ll enjoy it the most if you start at the beginning with the page-turning novel of suspense that explores the dark past of Rachel’s family background: Heat of the Moon. And look for Sandra’s guest appearance here on the blog next week.


  1. sparshall said,

    March 20, 2014 at 9:00 pm

    Aw, thanks for mentioning Cicero! He’s an African gray parrot, said to be the smartest of the parrots and the ones that understand human language best. I borrowed his personality, though, from our vet’s green parrot. He somehow picked up the habit of screeching “Help! Help!” at odd times. Once when a vet tech at the animal hospital was keeping the parrot while his owner was away, he started screaming “Help! Help!” — and neighbors in the apartment building called the police. They had to be convinced that no one in the apartment was being harmed, because of course the parrot remained totally silent in their presence.

    • Nancy Adams said,

      March 21, 2014 at 3:31 pm

      LOL. That’s such a great story! I remember seeing a documentary on parrots. Amazing, how smart they are.

      Thanks for stopping by.

  2. Amy Shojai said,

    March 21, 2014 at 10:04 am

    I love Clea’s ferret, too! Such an unusual character and great comic relief as well. His “help” often makes things more confused, which is great in a mystery. I’m afraid that I stick to cats and dogs in my books…well, there are feral hogs in the most recent one that figure in the plot but they aren’t “characters” per se. *s*

    • Nancy Adams said,

      March 21, 2014 at 3:32 pm

      Yeah, Frank is SUCH a great character! And you’re right about the misdirection and comic relief.

      I’m intrigued by the feral hogs!

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