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)
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:

****
chez_jae: (Books)
Since it was a Friday, I stayed up until 1:30 to finish reading Double Booked for Death by Ali Brandon. It is the first installment in the "Black Cat Bookshop mysteries".

When her great-aunt died, Darla inherited the woman's book shop in NY, along with the shop's resident cat, Hamlet. Darla scores a coup when she gets internationally famous YA author Valeri Baylor to come to her shop for an autograph session. During the event, however, the author ends up dead in what initially appears to be an accident. Darla becomes curious when Hamlet finds a cryptic message in the book shop, and she begins to do a little investigating on her own.

The book was filled with interesting characters, both the temporary ones and those that one can expect to see in future installments. Darla actually seems to be the least colorful one of the bunch! There is also a potential romantic interest for her, and it will be fun to see how that pans out.

Four stars:

★★★★

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