Putting the Claws in Pens, Paws, and Claws

by Barb Goffman

I love a good animal mystery. There are tons of them aimed at adult readers that involve dogs and cats. So you’d think a large animal with sharp claws would appear in a lot of mysteries too. After all, the sharper the claws and the bigger the animal, the bigger the threat. But when I sat down to research adult mysteries involving one particular type of large, sharp-clawed animal … alligators, yes, alligators, well, let’s just say this swamp wasn’t so full. While there’s an abundance of mysteries for children and tweens involving alligators–it seems eco-mysteries for young readers are hot–mysteries with alligators aimed at adults appear to be few and far between. Here’s the few I found:

  • Hip-Deep in Alligators, by Robert Campbell — a mystery set in Chicago involving a crocodile, according to its online description. (Yes, crocodiles and alligators aren’t the same thing, but since the title mentions alligators, I think we have a winner.)
  • Rumble on the Bayou, by Jana DeLeon — the first in the humorous A Miss Fortune Mystery series, set in Louisiana. This book’s online description begins with, “Deputy Dorie Berenger knew the day would go from bad to worse when she found a stoned alligator in the town drunk’s swimming pool.”
  • Later Gator, also by Jana DeLeon — this ninth book in the A Miss Fortune Mystery series focuses on gator poaching.
  • “Gator Aid,” a short story by Lesley A. Diehl set in a rural Florida swamp chock-full of alligators.
  • The Sound and the Furry, by Spencer Quinn — this is the sixth book in Quinn’s fantastic Chet and Bernie series, about a PI named Bernie and his sidekick, Chet, a large dog who narrates the books. In this novel, Chet and Bernie travel to Louisiana, where Chet tackles with a legendary gator.

And that, my friends, is all she wrote. Or at least all I could find–except … last week a new anthology came out called Florida Happens. It’s this year’s Bouchercon anthology, full of short stories set in or inspired by the weirdness that is Florida. It includes two short stories involving alligators. (Well, maybe more than two. I haven’t read the whole book yet. But at least two!) They are:

  • “There’s an Alligator in my Purse,” a funny story by Paul D. Marks.

And … my newest story:

  • “The Case of the Missing Pot Roast,” by me, Barb Goffman. This is a story about aging with dignity. The main character, Bev, lives with her husband, Charles, in a retirement community near the Everglades. Their home looks out on a lake in which an alligator named Romeo lives. The couple has always loved watching Romeo. But now Charles has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, and Romeo has become a source of stress. And these two don’t need more stress. Bev gets injured, so she hires an aide to help care for combative Charles. But when things start to go missing, Bev doesn’t know who she can depend on. A friend suggests the aide isn’t trustworthy, but Bev begins to wonder if the real person she can’t trust is herself.

You can read “The Case of the Missing Pot Roast” in Florida Happens, out now in trade paperback and e-book versions from Three Rooms Press. Here’s a link to the Amazon copy, if you’re interested.

And with that, I’m going to say farewell to all the readers here at Pens, Paws, and Claws. I’ve enjoyed being part of this blog since its start, learning about authors, their pets, and animal issues and mysteries. But I find myself stretched too thin, so I’m giving up my spot on the rotation to allow another author the opportunity to blog with you all.

Thank you, dear readers, for visiting and commenting on the blog. And thank you to my fellow PPC bloggers, especially our founder Heather Weidner, for making this blog a success. I will continue to check in and comment. And if you’re interested in continuing to follow me, you can find me–and many posts about my dog, Jingle, pictured above–on Facebook.

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2 thoughts on “Putting the Claws in Pens, Paws, and Claws”

  1. Just last night I watched a video on the Cave of Chauvet, and saw that the heated water from the near-by nuclear power plant is used to create a tropical atmosphere. What appalled me was that they were breeding crocodiles there, which they expected to spread. However, you made all of the stories above so so interesting, I wouldn’t know where to start, except well , the title grabs me:”Florida Happens”!
    I’ll miss reading your posts. It’s always hard to leave something that was part of your life , but it displays great wisdom to know when you have reached a certain point.I have been going through many of those myself lately. I know that you will do well in all of your endeavors.

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