Some of the hardcover dust-jacket blurbs compared this book to such things as Lillian Jackson Braun's "Cat Who" series, which worried me a bit, since the farce and the lightweight writing in the Cat-Who books wore thin on me a while back. However, I picked the book up anyway - and was pleasantly surprised. This is NOT a comedy mystery featuring talking or psychic animals. The book has occasional touches of humor, but humor isn't the main point of the book.
Our protagonist is a former sheriff's deputy, now turned pet-sitter. The tragedy that led her to change careers is exposed in bits and pieces as the book goes on; it remains a strong motivator in Dixie's life. The private lives of several of the other characters also contain dark moments and some skeletons in the closet. In fact, while the book falls somewhat into the "cozy" family, it's quite dark for a cozy. There are police procedural elements here too. I was pleased that our heroine cooperates with the police, and does her best, most of the time, to instantly convey any new information she has to the police detectives. There are a few cozy series where it seems as if the amateur detective is usually willfully trying to keep the police in the dark and/or maintain an adversarial relationship, or is always proving that she (it's usually a she) is smarter and faster than the bumbling police, and that's another conceit that's wearing thin over the years; I am glad this book isn't one of them.
It's also well-written and well-plotted, with twists and turns, legitimate red herrings in the mystery tradition, and a few surprises. The setting is in a spot I'm not familiar with, in the Florida Keys, so I can't really tell whether one gets an accurate sense of place and of the neighborhood(s) Dixie is in. (I enjoy reading series set in places I am familiar with, and if you are familiar with south Florida, this book would probably give you that same pleasurable sense of recognition.)
Family reading alert: part of the plot hinges on finding some pornographic photos. While there's no major sexual content in the book, those of you keeping an eye on the family reading may want to check those parts out to see whether they're safe for your family. There are several gay couples, the coming-out of a gay teen, and scenes in a gay bar, which shouldn't bother anyone - if you don't like hearing anything about the gay lifestyle, you probably wouldn't want to be reading murder mysteries or books set in the south Florida area in the first place.
One small thing: the cat-sitter is not the person who gets killed; the title is just a tad misleading there.
I look forward to picking up the next in the series; given the back-story we acquired in this book on our protagonist, I will be eager to see how her pet-sitting career vs. the possibility of returning to the sheriff's department plays out.