Clement's assured cozy debut introduces an appealing heroine, 32-year-old Dixie Hemingway, who's given up her stressful job as a sheriff's deputy in Sarasota, Fla., to become a professional pet sitter. When Dixie calls early one morning on her latest client, a silver-blue Abyssinian named Ghost, she finds a dead man face down in the cat bowl. The contact person (a requirement when you leave an animal with a sitting service) has no clue where Ghost's owner, gorgeous Marilee Doerring, could have gone or why her locks were changed before she left. Unfortunately, when Dixie locates Marilee, she, too, is dead. And that makes Dixie suspect number one. With sensitivity and insight, Clement develops a plot line involving a bigoted, Bible-thumping radio psychologist, Carl Winnick; his repressed wife, Olga; and their gay teenage son, Phillip, who's a talented pianist. The difficulties and humor inherent to the pet-sitting business, a local law-enforcement hunk with romantic potential and crisp writing all bode well for future entries in the series.