chez_jae: (Books)
Thursday night, I completed the book Final Catcall by Sofie Kelly. It's part of her "Magical Cats" mystery series.

Kathleen's budding relationship with Detective Marcus Gordon seems to have fizzled out before it really began. He has become frustrated with her inability to keep her nose out of his cases, and she refuses to sit idly by when it's one of her friends that is suspected of a crime. To complicate matters, Kathleen's former fiance, Andrew, arrives in town, intent on winning her back. He claims he's changed and that he's still in love with her. Having him so near only serves to remind Kathleen that things were once good between them.

Mayville Heights is excited to host an acting troupe, who will be conducting a theater festival. Kathleen soon learns that one of the directors, Hugh Davis, can be abrasive. When she stumbles over his dead body, Marcus is removed from the investigation, because his sister is one of the prime suspects. Suddenly, the shoe is on the other foot. It's Marcus who can't quit poking into things, while Kathleen admonishes him to "let the police do their job". Although the story is written in Kathleen's pov, it's easy to see that both of them are coming to a new understanding of one another.

Of course, Kathleen's magical cats, Owen and Hercules, keep finding clues, which keeps Kathleen in the loop. Soon, the questions she's been asking put her in the killer's sights, and Kathleen's life is in danger.

I enjoy these books. I like that the author has the main character doing real things, not just "investigating". Kathleen goes to work, meets up with friends, attends her tai chi classes, and spends time at home with her cats. If I have any complaint, it's the fact that she can't seem to solve a murder without ending up in mortal peril herself, and getting injured in the bargain.

Favorite lines:
♦ "What's meant to be always finds a way to be."
♦ We were never, ever getting back together. I think I'd heard that line in a song.
♦ Nobody had cats like mine. Sometimes they really were like little people in fur suits. Manipulative little people.

Very good book, five stars!

chez_jae: (Books)
I was so discombobulated by my sister's visit that I have not had time to post this review...and it's a book I finished LAST Sunday. Guh.

The book was Literally Murder, and it's part of author Ali Brandon's "Black Cat Bookshop" mystery series, featuring bookstore owner Darla Pettistone and her cat, Hamlet.

After a video of Hamlet goes viral, Darla is invited to bring him to a cat show in FL as their special, celebrity guest. Anxious to escape a harsh, NY winter, Darla readily agrees. Her friend Jake goes along, officially to act as a bodyguard for Hamlet, and unofficially to visit her mother.

At the cat show, Jake is conked over the head, and someone gets away with Hamlet. When Darla and Jake go looking for him, Hamlet is found next to a dead body. There are no shortage of suspects, including animal activists, cut-throat competitors, and a condo association that is tired of the victim's bullying.

Not my favorite of this series. For one thing, I missed the atmosphere of the bookstore. I did suss out the killer long before anyone in the book did. Woot!

Favorite line: "If I can help bring world peace by looking like a total idiot, then that's the price I'll pay."

Not bad, but again, not my favorite in this series. Average score:

chez_jae: (Books)
Sunday night, I finished reading The Black Cat Sees His Shadow by Kay Finch. It's the third book in the "Bad Luck Cat" mystery series.

During the local Pumpkin Festival in Lavender, TX, Sabrina comes face-to-face with a woman who looks like they could be twins. Tia is an artist, in town for the festival. She has her young son Damon with her, along with their black cat, Merlin. Merlin looks just like Sabrina's cat, Hitchcock. The similarity in their appearance leads to some misunderstandings, especially when Sabrina is accosted by a man she doesn't know. It turns out that Tia and Calvin Fisher have butted heads before. When Fisher turns up dead, Tia becomes the prime suspect in his murder, and Sabrina is determined to prove her new friend is innocent.

In addition to trying to solve a murder, Sabrina is trying to work on her next novel, keep an eye on her feisty Aunt Rowe, dodge the sketchy attentions of a man who seems to be stalking her, and enter something in the baking contest. Now, to compound her problems, Sabrina's mother has shown up and would like nothing more than for Sabrina to return to Houston, where she belongs.

Well, there was certainly a lot going on! Fisher had no shortage of people who might have wanted him dead, which keeps Sabrina guessing. She also finds herself the target of Detective Patricia Rosales' wrath once more, simply because Sabrina is dating Game Warden Luke, whom Rosales has the hots for. There's also the mysterious appearance of Fisher's wife, who is convinced that her late husband gave something to Sabrina for safekeeping before he died.

Not my favorite in this series. Too many sinister characters, to the point that it was getting tedious. There was no resolution as to how or why Tia and Sabrina looked so much alike, and the motive for murder was weak and bizarre.

Favorite line:I hoped this trek didn't turn out to be some mysterious mission that only a cat would understand.

Good story, in spite of the drawbacks. Four stars:

chez_jae: (Books)
This afternoon, I finished reading Telling Tails by Sofie Ryan. It's part of her "Second Chance Cat" mystery series.

Sarah's friend and employee, Rose, takes it upon herself to deliver a purchase to a customer. She ends up in the hospital, after being struck on the head and falling unconscious. When Sarah rushes to the hospital to visit her, Rose claims she saw their customer's dead body being dragged through his home before she was knocked out. It's an incredible tale, and Rose gets her dander up when she feels no one believes her. She enlists the aid of her fellow senior citizens to investigate. Sarah is dragged into the investigation once again, as is her rescue cat, Elvis. The man's wife claims he cleaned out their bank account and left her for another woman. Now the question is, did someone murder him, or did he fake his own death?

Characterizations were well done, even Elvis, and the plot was convoluted and interesting. I would have enjoyed the story more, however, if Rose hadn't acted like a petulant child. I guess the best way to indicate you're angry at your friends for wondering if you're a doddering old woman is to act like a spoiled brat by throwing them out of your hospital room and refusing to speak to them. I like feisty old ladies in stories, but not when they behave like precocious, sullen toddlers. I'm also not liking that the author seems to be waffling now on a love interest for Sarah.

Favorite line: "Sometimes people make a commitment and they mean it when they make it, but after awhile they find out they just don't have what it takes to keep it."

Still a little perturbed with Rose in this one, but I'll give it a four:

chez_jae: (Books)
Stayed up late last night to finish reading Cat Trick by Sofie Kelly. It's the fourth book in her "Magical Cats" mystery series.

The residents and businesses of Mayville Heights are hoping to convince Legacy Tours to add their town to its listing of vacation packages. It should be a lock, considering local-boy-turned-big-city-big-shot, Mike Glazer, is back in Mayville, representing Legacy. However, he's no longer the affable young man he used to be. Instead, Glazer is abrasive, and it seems everyone in town has a run-in with him. It's shocking, but not surprising, when Glazer turns up dead.

This time around, Kathleen promises herself, and her beau, Detective Marcus Gordon, that she will not interfere in the murder investigation. However, Kathleen finds herself drawn into the middle of it when both of her cats begin nosing around, and some local residents ask her to "look into it". Working at the library puts Kathleen in a position where she can subtly ask people about their dealings with Glazer and what he was like before he left town years before. All she finds out is that he used to be well-liked, but that almost everyone had a bone to pick with him over his recent dealings. Kathleen can't help but think there's something she's missing, and it may not be tied to the town of Mayville Heights at all. In the meantime, her meddling strains her relationship with Marcus, leaving Kathleen to wonder if she should renew her contract with the library when it's up, or if she should just return home to Boston.

The book was engrossing, and the pace moved along. I always enjoy reading about Kathleen's day to day life, in conjunction with her sleuthing. Her cats are utterly adorable, and it was nice to reconnect with familiar characters. My only complaint is that I don't feel I (as the reader) was given a fair chance to figure out who the murderer was.

Favorite line: "Could we just keep the doors locked and maybe stay here and eat muffins all morning?"
That gets my vote!

Very good story, with likable characters. Five stars:

chez_jae: (Books)
Apparently, I've been to busy to post here. I finished reading Murder at Monticello on Thursday evening. Ahem. It's the third book in the "Mrs Murphy" mystery series by Rita Mae Brown and Sneaky Pie Brown.

Harry Harristeen and friends and residents of Crozet, VA, have been raising funds to help renovate Monticello, the former residence of Thomas Jefferson. When an archaeological dig at the slave quarters turns up a skeleton, the entire town is abuzz with speculation. However, after someone affiliated with the renovations is murdered, everyone's attention shifts to this current menace in their midst. Harry is convinced the two deaths, old and new, have something in common. Her pets, Mrs Murphy and Tee Tucker, launch an investigation of their own, in an effort to sniff out a killer before any harm can come to Harry.

I enjoyed this book, but not as much as I've liked others in the series. It's all written in third person point of view, which is fine, but in this book, the focus was not on Harry and her pets nearly as often as in previous installments. Even in third person pov, the action should center on the main character(s). This one seemed to jump around too much, although I can see that it helped set the stage for the climax, as well as providing some clues as to who dunnit.

Favorite lines:
♦ "We're all trying to do too much in too little time. It's all about money. It'll kill us. It'll kill America."
♦ "It's so easy to love animals and so hard to love people."
♦ The day you see, the night you hear.
♦ Pewter, furious, sat down and bawled. "I will not run. I will not take another step. My paws are sore and I hate everybody. You can't leave me here!"

Just like a cat!
♦ "Too bad humans don't have fur. Think of the money they'd save," said Paddy. // "Yeah, and they'd get over worrying about what color they were because with fur you can be all colors."
♦ "Who is more anti-Semitic than another Jew? Who is more antigay than another homosexual? More antifeminist than another woman? The oppressed contain reservoirs of viciousness reserved entirely for their own kind."

This book was written more than 20 years ago, and I am amazed at how it resonates today.

Good book, four stars:

chez_jae: (Books)
Was up until almost midnight last night, finishing Copycat Killing by Sofie Kelly. It's the third installment in the "Magical Cats" mystery series, featuring librarian Kathleen and her talented cats, Owen and Hercules.

After days of torrential rain, everyone in the town of Mayville Heights are sick of the weather. The library's parking lot is flooded, which means Kathleen can't work. She keeps busy helping her friend Maggie move items from the art studio's ground floor to the second level. On one such excursion, they find a body in the flooded basement. Jaeger Merrill was making a nuisance of himself, and someone may have silenced him for good. When another artist recognizes him as a former forger who was arrested and did his time, Kathleen can't help but think Merrill's past caught up with him. Fortunately, police officer Marcus is on the case.

When Kathleen and Marcus go out to feed feral cats at the rundown Wisteria Hill manor, Kathleen is drawn to the creek bank. The wet ground gives way beneath her feet, unearthing skeletal remains. Now, it seems that the local police have two crimes to solve, and Kathleen is right in the middle of both of them. With a little help from her cats, she starts working to unearth the clues that can lead to not one, but two killers.

I'm not sure I've read a mystery with two such different cases before. I couldn't help but think they must be connected. I like this verse and the town and its characters, so it was fun to revisit. Kathleen's attraction to Marcus moves along at a snail's pace, but I find that refreshing for a change.

Favorite lines:
♣ Not only do cats not get sarcasm, they don't get shameless bids for sympathy either.
♣ Even cats know stupid when they hear it.

Very good, four stars:

chez_jae: (Books)
I've been so busy that I haven't had time to post about the book I finished on Thursday. Sheesh.

The book was Catch as Cat Can, which is part of author Claire Donally's "Sunny and Shadow" mystery series.

A shop selling fresh fish has opened next door to the small tourist/travel office where Sunny works. Her cat Shadow is sufficiently intrigued that he hitchhikes to town with Sunny a few times to mooch fresh fish from the owner, Neil Garret. When someone is murdered in Neil's store, Sunny learns that he's been in a witness protection program, and now the Feds are in town, and Sunny's boyfriend, Chief Investigator Will Price, is also on the case. Neil's alibi is shaky, and he becomes a suspect, but Sunny doesn't believe he'd harm anyone. Her old, investigative journalist instincts kick in, and she soon becomes embroiled in the mystery.

Good story, although the author didn't provide any information to allow me to connect the dots until quite late in the story. Boo on that!

Favorite line: Sooner or later, you'll have to go to sleep. And then, when you least expect it, I'll jump on you.
That was the "thoughts" of Shadow, the cat!

Four stars:

chez_jae: (Books)
Friday, I finished reading Rest in Pieces, which is the second book in the "Mrs Murphy" mystery series by authors Rita Mae Brown and Sneaky Pie Brown.

When handsome, single Blair Bainbridge moves to Crozet, VA, the local busybodies want to match him up with newly divorced Mary "Harry" Haristeen. However, when fresh body parts are located in an old graveyard on Blair's new property, excitement shifts to the crime and the possible identity of the victim. Later, the torso and then the head are found, each discovery more gruesome than the last. Harry's pets, Mrs Murphy and her sidekick, Tee Tucker, are anxious to protect Harry and to sniff out more clues. Once another murder victim is found and a third man from Crozet goes missing, the race is on to find a killer before anyone else is harmed.

Very entertaining story. I liked Blair, and it was fun to renew acquaintances with characters from the first book. Even the pets are amusing! I figured out who dunnit and why early on, but I still enjoyed reading along to the conclusion.

Favorite lines:
♥ "Give me that back, you striped asshole!"

I may have yelled something similar to Dweezil a time or two!
♥ Nothing sadder on this earth than a human being without a cat.

Superb! Five hearts!

chez_jae: (Books)
Just finished reading A Whisker of Trouble, which is the third book in Sofie Ryan's "Second Chance Cat" mystery series.

When Sarah agrees to clean out the home of a hoarder, in search of items she can sell at her shop, she and her cat, Elvis, come across a dead body. The victim was hired to appraise the deceased homeowner's wine collection, which turned out to have been fake. The homeowner's sister hires the Angels, a group of sleuthing senior citizens whose base is in Sarah's shop, to solve the appraiser's murder so that the sale of her brother's house can go forward. While the police are focusing their investigation in one direction, the Angels hone in on the wine scam, certain that the murder and the con are connected.

These stories are fun. I appreciate that they don't focus exclusively on the mystery. Instead, Sarah was seen running her business, socializing after work hours, and taking care of her cat. Her stepbrother, Liam, is back in town, and she spends time with him, especially after he gets roped into helping the Angels with a con of their own. Ha ha! I was able to suss out the killer, but it was interesting to see how other threads of the story tied into it.

Favorite line: Who was I to judge my brother's social life when I was sitting at home talking to my cat on a Friday night?

Marvelous! Five stars:

chez_jae: (Books)
I stayed up far later than I should have last night (this morning!) to finish reading Words With Fiends. It's the third installment in author Ali Brandon's "Black Cat Bookshop" mystery series.

Bookstore owner Darla Pettistone is concerned when the shop's mascot, a large black cat named Hamlet, doesn't seem to be himself. He isn't terrorizing customers or knocking things off of shelves, like he normally does. Darla bites the bullet and hires a behavioral specialist to come in to see Hamlet. In the meantime, Darla and her young employee, Robert, are taking self-defense classes at a local dojo. When they go to the dojo early on a Sunday, they find their sensei in dire straits. Master Tomlinson is pronounced DOA at the hospital, and Darla finds herself at the epicenter of another murder investigation.

There doesn't seem to be a shortage of suspects, from the sensei's seemingly callous wife, to his two stepsons, to the student he argued with earlier in the week. Darla vows to stay out of it this time, but when Hamlet begins knocking books off of shelves again, books that seem pertinent to the murder investigation, Darla is unwittingly drawn into the search for clues.

The story moved along at a rapid pace. There were several subplots, including Robert's desire to adopt Master Tomlinson's dog, Roma, the case that Darla's PI friend, Jake, is working on, and Darla's preparation to compete in a karate tournament. I was able to figure out who dunnit, but not until late in the book.

Favorite line: "Cats have their own code of honor, you know."

Fascinating, fast story. Five stars!

chez_jae: (Books)
After supper, I finished reading The Cat, the Vagabond, and the Victim, which is part of author Leanne Sweeney's "Cats in Trouble" mystery series.

The small town of Mercy, SC, is descended on by the media when they discover a celebrity in their midst. The celebrity in question is Clyde, a large ginger cat who traveled 200 miles to return home to his beloved owner. When Clyde raised a ruckus, Norman Jeffrey's neighbors came to investigate, only to find the elderly man had passed away. With the local animal shelter at the center of the media storm, Jillian Hart is asked to foster Clyde in her home, in hopes that no one will discover the cat has been spirited away. Once it's revealed that Mr Jeffrey did not die of natural causes, and someone else is murdered in his home, Jillian has her hands full trying to dodge the media. Her home is broken into, and Clyde disappears again. Now, Jillian is determined to help solve the crime, if only so Clyde can get some peace in his life.

Police investigation, and Jillian's own questioning, reveal that Mr Jeffrey's family was fractured, with siblings and cousins not speaking to one another for years. Someone, however, must have known that Mr Jeffrey had amassed a small fortune, and now everyone is coming out of the woodwork, wanting a piece of the pie.

The identity of the killer caught me off guard, but I did figure several things out early. There were still plenty of twists and turns to the plot to surprise me, and it was certainly an entertaining read. Clyde was such a big moosh that I wanted to adopt him, too. Ha ha! One thing that bugged me was the break-in at Jillian's. I swear, in each of the books in this series, someone breaks into that woman's house. Really?! How many times is this going to happen?

Favorite line: "Like anyone can really possess a cat."

Good plot, solid read, and lots of cats! Five stars:

chez_jae: (Books)
On Thursday, I finished reading Sleight of Paw by Sofie Kelly. It's the second book in her "Magical Cats" mystery series.

It's the height of winter in Mayville Heights, and everyone is getting ready for Winterfest. When an old woman is run down in an alley and left to die, One of Kathleen's young friends is initially tabbed as a suspect. Kathleen knows Ruby wouldn't harm anyone, least of all Agatha, whom Ruby shared a rapport with.

Aided by her cats, Owen and Hercules, Kathleen starts doing some investigating of her own, in spite of police officer Marcus Gordon's warnings to keep her nose out of it. As Kathleen begins questioning the people she'd seen in heated discussions with Agatha, she discovers some surprising secrets about her new friends and neighbors, but nothing that seems worth killing for. Intent on uncovering the truth, Kathleen involves others in her investigation, and her cats are keen to help, too.

This was a delightful story. It didn't simply focus on the crime and the ensuing investigation; it also touched on Kathleen's daily life, from her job at the library, to her tai chi classes, to her socializing with her friends. She even talks to her cats like I do! I did figure out the killer early, but the author threw some red herrings out that made me waffle a bit in my conviction.

Favorite line: Sulking went a lot better with some chocolate.

Fantastic read, five stars!

chez_jae: (Books)
This afternoon, I finished reading Crime and Catnip by TC LoTempio. It's the third installment in her "Nick & Nora" mystery series, featuring former investigative reporter Nora Charles and her cat Nick.

As the owner/operator of the Hot Bread sandwich shop, Nora is thrilled to land a catering gig at a gala museum event. Days before the event occurs, one of the board members of the museum asks Nora to look into the disappearance of her niece Alexa. The case is of interest to Nora, because it is supposedly what her cat's former owner, PI Nick Atkins, was working on when he disappeared.

At the opening of the museum's latest exhibit, a collection of artifacts that are allegedly from the time of King Arthur, the most well-guarded piece is a grimoire that was supposed to have belonged to Morgan le Fay. The grimoire was the target of an attempted theft in London, and extra security is brought in to ensure its safety.

After checking into some leads, Nora can't help but think that the attempted theft is somehow tied in with the disappearance of both Alexa and Atkins. Her snooping lands her in danger, but she is reluctant to lay all of her cards on the table when asked to by both her FBI boyfriend Daniel and her former flame (and current cop) Lee. Nora wants more evidence first, and it may cost her.

The plot was convoluted, but in a cleverly crafted way that held my attention. I did figure some things out, but others surprised me. Situations which seemed to be interconnected were not, and others that seemed random turned out to be connected. It was so mysterious as to be almost vexing!

Favorite line: "One never owns a cat, dear. They own you..."

Exciting and enjoyable--five stars!

chez_jae: (Books)
Earlier this evening, I finished reading Nine Lives Last Forever by Rebecca M Hale. It's the second book in the "Cats and Curios" mystery series.

I spent several days slogging through this book, because IT MADE NO FUCKING SENSE. The author writes the main character (who also happens to be named Rebecca Hale--WTF?) in first person pov. However, several chapters and/or sections of chapters segued off to the viewpoint of other characters (including both of the author's main character's cats and even a frog or two--WTF?), and these were presented in third person pov. It made reading this book a chore, rather than a pleasure.

The entire premise was that several characters kept interacting with frogs, or else encountering them in odd places. Our intrepid heroine finds something in her deceased Uncle Oscar's handwriting, saying to 'Follow the frogs'. She is reluctantly drawn into the chaos that seems to be entirely created by other characters, one of whom is convinced that Oscar is still alive.

You know what? I'm having trouble describing the plot, because it was so convoluted and confusing. There was no actual mystery involved--no murder, no missing person, nothing stolen...nothing but the damned frogs. There seems to be this overlapping theme (from the first book and, presumably, continuing into others) of treasures that Oscar may have discovered/hidden or been on the trail of. All I got from reading this is that several people conspired to get the main character chasing after stupid shit by baiting or manipulating her, and I had no idea why, when it seemed that it would have been simpler for them to follow up on this themselves. I mean, why involve her at all? They were Oscar's contemporaries, and she has no idea what her uncle was up to when he was alive. She continually learns things about him that astonish her. Also, I was losing track of all the different disguises that various characters donned throughout the story. It was like a bad episode of Scooby Doo.

In short, this was a frustrating and disappointing read, and it's going in the donation bag as soon as I hit "Post", because this book is in no way a keeper. It's only redeeming feature is that it touched on a lot of the history of San Francisco, especially concerning activist Harvey Milk and his assassination.

Favorite line:I guess she might have been pretty if she weren't so scary--if there'd been Dalmatian puppies on the premises, I would have hidden them in the basement.

Confusing and annoying, it gets two stars--one for the cats, and one for the history.

chez_jae: (Books)
I started this book "last year", and I finished it last night. It was Buy a Whisker, which is the second book in author Sofie Ryan's "Second Chance Cat" mystery series.

Sarah Grayson is enjoying her return to her home town of North Harbor, especially now that her secondhand shop is doing well. Winter is a slow season, however, with fewer tourists in town. A company wants to develop the waterfront of North Harbor, and most people in town are looking forward to an increase in tourists and revenue. The lone holdout is Lily Carter, who refuses to sell her bakery, even though she is the victim of harassment and pranks.

When Sarah goes to Lily's bakery early one morning, she finds Lily dead at the bottom of her stairs. Police soon rule the death a homicide, and Sarah's friend Liz is questioned in conjunction with the crime, because she and Lily had an argument. That's all the excuse that Sarah's other senior friends need to delve into investigating. While they're busy looking into financials, Sarah can't help but think that Lily's death had less to do with the development and more to do with the disappearance of her abusive boyfriend. His family never got closure, and they suspected that Lily knew more than she was telling them.

In addition to her own sleuthing, Sarah is busy with her shop, keeping up with friends, and juggling her attraction to two different men in her life.

Good story, enjoyable characters, and an interesting plot. Of course, I adored Sarah's cat, Elvis. He's quite the character on his own!

Favorite line: I was arguing with a cat. A cat! And who was I kidding? He was winning.

Four stars:

chez_jae: (Books)
You know it's a good book when you read it all in one day! The book was The Cat, the Mill and the Murder, which is part of Leann Sweeney's "Cats in Trouble" mystery series.

Jillian accompanies her friend Shawn and an engineer to the old textile mill at the edge of town. The town is in a position to sell the property, but first, Shawn must deal with the population of feral cats, and Jillian has agreed to help him. Once there, however, they find a homeless woman living at the site. When they return to speak to her later, she has been injured and is taken to the hospital. The woman doesn't want to leave, because she insists it's a holy place, and she doesn't want to leave her cat behind.

Turns out, the woman disappeared from town a decade earlier, after her own daughter also vanished. When skeletal remains are found at the mill, the police suspect it's the remains of Jeannie's daughter. Now, everything at the mill must be put on hold, no matter that two factions are fighting over the rights to it. After Jillian is dispatched to speak to the main councilwoman in charge of the sale, she finds the woman dead in her home. Now, the police have a cold case to solve, as well as a recent murder, and speculation is that the two events are linked.

As if that's not crazy enough, Jillian realizes that Jeannie's cat, Boots, is following her around...the only problem is that Boots is dead, and only Jillian and Jeannie can see her.

What an exciting and fun story! So much going on, including the escalating romance between Jillian and Tom, as well as a potential love interest for Jillian's friend Candace. This is the first time a paranormal element has been added to the series, but Boots was a wonderful character, who brought comfort to both Jeannie and Jillian.

Favorite line: If I was losing my mind, I wanted to be the first and the last person to know.

Fantastic! Five stars!

chez_jae: (Books)
Woot! I never set out to read a hundred books this year, but I'm quite proud of my accomplishment, in any case.

I just finished reading Hiss and Tell, which is part of author Claire Donally's "Sunny and Shadow" mystery series.

With a local, high-society wedding looming, Sunny is asked to brush off her journalist and photography skills and go to a scheduled press conference to take pictures. Later, the owner of the local paper asks her to come with him to investigate some lights on the cliffs where the family's compound resides. Sunny ends up taking photos of security removing the body of a woman from the water. The bride-to-be wants to know what happened to her friend, and she asks Sunny to join the family at their compound as an embedded journalist. Sunny jumps at the chance, not knowing how distraught her leaving makes her cat, Shadow. After Sunny returns home to fetch more clothing, Shadow takes the opportunity to hitch a ride back to the compound with her.

In the meantime, an old, journalistic flame of Sunny's is in town, and he tries to convince her to help him look into an old legend of a blackmailer known as the Taxman. Sunny dismisses Randall's speculation as urban legend, but as she spends time with a family of politicians, she begins to realize that blackmail could well be a motive for murder.

The story moved along at a good pace. I figured out who dunnit early, but the author threw out enough red herrings to make my conviction waver at points. Shadow caused no end of hilarious trouble while on the loose at the compound, and Sunny's growing relationship with Will was enjoyable to read about.

Favorite lines:
♦ "We might see some seals over on Appledore Island." / "Which was not named after the guy who taught Harry Potter..."
♦ Apparently the furniture gets harder use here in boy-land...
♦ "No demon speeders rushing to get last-minute bargains will avoid the long arm of the law."

Fun, exciting story! Five stars:

chez_jae: (Books)
Today, I finished reading Curiosity Thrilled the Cat by Sofie Kelly. It's the first book in her series about librarian Kathleen Paulson and her two cats, Owen and Hercules.

The Mayville Heights library is in the midst of renovations, and the computer room is not yet ready. This fact vexes the eccentric musician and conductor who is in town to lend his talents to their local music festival. He and Kathleen have words, although Kathleen mollifies the man and sends him on his way. The following morning, she goes to the theater early in hopes of finding a local carpenter to ask him to help out with the renovations. Instead, Kathleen finds Gregor Easton, dead at the piano.

Kathleen is now a "person of interest" in the crime, meaning she must field questions from Detective Gordon. In the meantime, she has come to the realization that her cats are not simple house cats. Owen can become invisible, and Herc has the ability to walk through doors, leaving Kathleen wondering about her own sanity. On top of making inquiries of her own into Easton's life and death, Kathleen still has to deal with the renovations, which seem to be moving at a turtle's pace.

The book was fun, but I just could not shake the feeling that I've read it before. I always, ALWAYS put my initials inside a book I've finished reading, even if I plan to give it away, and was so darned familiar. I even went back through all of my book reviews posted here, but I didn't find it. I'm still not convinced I didn't already read this one. Nevertheless, it counts towards books read for the year, even if it was a re-read.

Favorite line:Plus, I had my big flashlight, my pepper spray, a cat, and six brownies.

Looking forward to reading more. Four stars:

chez_jae: (Books)
Tonight, I polished off A Novel Way to Die, which is part of author Ali Brandon's "Black Cat Bookshop" mystery series.

Darla needs to hire a new, part-time clerk, but first, any candidate must meet with the approval of Hamlet, the store cat. After scaring off several potential contenders, Hamlet casts his favor on goth teen, Robert. Darla is skeptical, but she hires Robert and soon discovers he's a conscientious employee.

Darla takes a break from shopkeeping to view the brownstone that her possible new love interest, Barry, is renovating with his friend Curt. On the premises, Darla and Barry find Curt dead in the basement. Darla knows it's a matter for the police, but she couldn't help but notice the bloody paw prints near the corpse. Fearing that Hamlet was at the scene of the crime, she begins trying to figure out who would have wanted Curt dead. Hamlet helps out in his own way, knocking particular books off of the shelves as clues. The only thing they seem to have in common is iron.

Good story! The action clipped along at a good pace, and although I had my suspicions, I wasn't sure who the murderer was until quite late in the book. It was fun to see Hamlet's relationship progress with Robert, as well as Robert's interactions with the stuffy store manager, James. I don't like either Barry or police officer Reese as a love interest for Darla, and I'm holding out hope for (the as yet to be met "onscreen") Alex Putin for her.

Favorite lines:
♦ ...her greater concern at the moment was that Mr Fur-covered Land Shark might have decided to seek out yet another hapless would-be employee to terrorize.
♦ "...he's a cat. What did you expect him to do, grab himself a pawful of hand sanitizer and tidy up?"
♦ "I swear he could hear a mouse farting in the next room."

The only knock against the book was the editing. One or two errors can be excused, but I noticed several. Unacceptable in a (supposedly) edited book.

Four stars:



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