...for readers who love animals, and animal lovers who read!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Do Our Pets Reflect Who We Are?

by Kathleen Kaska

Welcome to day six of Kathleen Kaska’s blog tour. She’s celebrating the upcoming release of her fourth Sydney Lockhart mystery, Murder at the Driskill (Austin, Texas) by writing about famous, infamous, and legendary locales in Texas’ state capital whose promo campaign is “Keep Austin Weird.” But today, she is digressing and attempting to analyze Sydney’s personality. At the end of the tour, she’ll give away a signed copy of the book. To be eligible, leave a comment on each blog.

I like to think of Sydney Lockhart, my protagonist in my 1950s mystery series, as a contradiction, not in her mind (How many of us see ourselves the way others see us?), but in the mind of her readers. Sydney likes to act the tough gal. She’s a wisecracking, gutsy, outspoken private investigator. For comfort, and often for disguise, she dresses in slacks, shirt, oxfords or cowboy boots, and a fedora. But, there’s a girly girl side to Sydney: one who likes to dress up in tart shoes and pencil skirts; one who melts when her PI boyfriend, Ralph Dixon, gives her “that look.”

Sydney comes with two pets: a white standard poodle named Monroe, as in Marilyn, and a tougher-than-nails cat named Mealworm, as in the larva stage of a darkling beetle. The dog represents glamour and the cat a sense of hardheartedness. I doubt Sydney selected these pets and named them to reflect her split personality. But in my latest mystery, Murder at the Driskill, twelve-year-old Lydia LaBeau picks up on Mealworm’s discontent. Lydia, whose middle name should be intuitive, bonds with Mealworm and believes her orneriness comes from what she represents. Whereas Monroe, the poodle, who never sheds, gets to visit her groomer and have her nails done, Mealworm’s orange fur seems to fly from her body like an unwanted houseguest and has to reply on her raspy tongue to clean herself.
Sydney merely scoffs at Lydia’s observations, until Lydia points out that Mealworm misbehaves only with Sydney; with everyone else, the cat is cuddly and sweet. Sydney believes changing her cat’s emotional state is an impossible feat. Lydia comes up with a solution:

Rename the cat Eva Gardener.

Visit these blog links for the entire blog tour:
11/24/ Condo Douglas kicked off my blog tour 11/25 Next you’ll find me at Lois Winston’s blog11/26 Look for me at Cyndi Pauwel’s blog, CP at Large11/28 Visit me at Helena Fairfax’s blog 11/29 Visit me at Lynn Cahoon’s place 12/01 Tomorrow I’ll be at Jenny Milchman’s blog, Made it Moment  

Now here’s a taste of Murder at the Driskill.

You’d think that newspaper reporter Sydney Lockhart, comfortable at home in Austin, Texas, could stay away from hotels and murders therein. But when she and her detective boyfriend, Ralph Dixon, hang out a shingle for their new detective agency, they immediately land a high-profile case, which sends them to the swanky Driskill Hotel. Businessman Stringer Maynard has invited them to a party to meet his partner/brother-in-law, Leland Tatum, who’s about to announce his candidacy for governor. Maynard needs their help because Tatum is hanging out with the wrong crowd and jeopardizing his chances for winning the election. Before Sydney can finish her first martini, a gunshot sounds and Leland Tatum is found murdered in a suite down the hall.

Kathleen Kaska writes the award-winning Sydney Lockhart mysteries. Her first two books Murder at the Arlington and Murder at the Luther, were selected as bonus-books for the Pulpwood Queens Book Group, the largest book group in the country. Kaska also writes the Classic Triviography Mystery Series. Her Alfred Hitchcock and the Sherlock Holmes trivia books were finalists for the 2013 EPIC award in nonfiction. Her nonfiction book, The Man Who Saved the Whooping Crane: The Robert Porter Allen Story (University Press of Florida) was published in 2012.


  1. Thanks for having me as your guest today, Sheila. I've written a lot about Sydney and her exploits. This is the first time I've written about her pets. It was fun to dig a bit deeper into what makes Sydney tick.

  2. Thanks for being here today, Kathleen!

  3. I’m a 15 year old girl who loves to take pictures and wants to become a photographer. I’m pretty good at taking pictures of The “outside world”, But I am having trouble with the other objects like pets and people. So I’m hopeing that the tips that I find on this website will help me start my photography.:)