Murder at the No-Kill Animal Shelter full of twists and turns. Photo of book cover

Murder at the No-Kill Animal Shelter full of mysterious twists


Murder at the No-Kill Animal Shelter is full of mysterious twists and turns. Homicide Detective Mark Walsh and Officer Sharon Laskey investigate an arson/murder at the local no-kill animal shelter.

Author Judith Ayn has created a work of art with her mastery of description and intrigue in this short novel, perfect for an afternoon read. From the description, there will be more to follow, as this is the first in the Cheater’s Lake Mystery Series.

It is all fiction, but one can almost imagine it being real – the test of a good mystery. Murder at the No-Kill Animal Shelter, full of mysterious twists and turns, like:

  • Who are these characters?
  • Where did they come from?
  • What is their connection?
  • Are they really who they claim to be, or are they hiding something.

Once the murder is solved (kind-a), we are left with a few questions – how some of the characters were connected. Now that we find this is the first in a series of mysteries, we will have to wait and see what happens in the second mystery. Paws bets there will be some sort of tie-in, and we certainly hope the Detectives are characters.

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Disclosure Paws News for Cat Lovers received this product for free in exchange for an honest review. Although the product was free, all opinions in this review remain my own and I was in no way influenced by the company.


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The story is set in the fictional town of Cheater’s Lake, Washington. The main character is Homicide Detective Mark Walsh, who relocated to the town from Phoenix, Arizona, (after catching his ex-wife in bed with his ‘supervisor’). Mark now works with Officer Sharon Laskey, a former bartender, and is also assisted in his cases by his best friend (from Phoenix) retired San Diego Homicide Detective Greg Hogan (in a wheelchair due to a gang shooting), who is in the process of opening a PI practice in Seattle and LA.

Murder at the No-Kill Animal Shelter full of mysterious twists & turns

Mark arrives at the Cheater’s Lake Animal Rescue (a no-kill shelter), where he is informed by Laskey that the two kennels were set on fire and the elderly caretaker (Carson Butts) found dead. The shelter’s director is DM (Daisy Marigold) Collins, a wealthy widow who lives on 60 acres of wooded land in Cheater’s Lake. Why would someone set fire to a no-kill shelter and murder a kindly old caretaker? As Walsh investigates, he finds DM has some secrets and so did Butts. Walsh is attracted to DM, but she is all business, guarded by her German shepherd, Henry. Her history with animals includes setting up a prison program with rescue dogs to be trained for companions, as well as developing an area near her home for training security dogs.

Along the way in his investigation, Mark finds two terrified cats and ends up adopting them. He names them Fred and Ethel (after the Lucille Ball show). They are terrors and he is not a cat person, but they add humor to the story and manage to teach him about the world of rescue — his and theirs. Mark eventually comes full circle from the messed-up guy who fled Phoenix to a more relaxed citizen of the small town of Cheater’s Lake.

While the cats do not have a central part in the story, they do add some depth, as they seem to have a sixth sense when it comes to ferreting out the less-desirable folks in the story.

We find some skeletons in most of the character’s closets, especially the caretaker Carson Butts, who has assumed a whole new identity after having a very sketchy past.

It turns out DM was being stalked by a person from her past who had a real obsession with her, and he has some ties to some folks with shady backgrounds, as well.

Mark’s boss becomes increasingly frustrated by the investigative duo, who do not seem to be able to solve the case fast enough, as the ties from arson, to murder, to attempted murder on DM and her stalker, escalate, with no real answers.

Paws does recommend reading the mystery as it is truly entertaining. The author has done an amazing job in the character descriptions, and as with any well-written book, we can almost picture being in the room with them.

Murder at a No-Kill Animal Shelter, interestingly named, as there is a murder in a place that does not kill animals, is available on Amazon and through Nook.

About the Author

Judith Ayn, a retired attorney, resides in Southern California along with two unique rescue cats, the models for Fred and Ethel. Her mystery series is set in the fictional town of Cheater’s Lake, WA.

Find her on Facebook and on Amazon.

2 responses to “Murder at the No-Kill Animal Shelter full of mysterious twists”

  1. Leah Avatar

    This does sound like an interesting mystery! I’ve enjoyed mysteries more since authors now write about protagonists and detectives who have pets and/or work in animal sheltering capacities.

    1. BJ Bangs Avatar
      BJ Bangs

      It is a very fun read and very well written. You feel like you can just see the characters. You should check it out.

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