by Cynthia Chow
This week we have 3 fun pet related mysteries for your summer reading-Gone With The Whisker: A Bookmobile Cat Mystery by Laurie Cass, Murder Can Confuse Your Chihuahua: A Haunted Craft Fair Mystery by Rose Pressey, and The Girl with the Kitten Tattoo: A Cat Lady Mystery by Linda Reilly. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of all 3 books, and links to purchase them at the end of each review–you may not be able to see the Amazon links if you have ad blocker on.
Gone With The Whisker: A Bookmobile Cat Mystery by Laurie Cass
Review by Cynthia Chow
Normally, the Fourth of July is librarian Minnie Hamilton’s favorite time of the year. Not only is it her birthday, but Chilson, Michigan, celebrates with parades, fireworks, and of course, outdoor barbecues. This year is a little less sunny, though, with her Chilson District Library hotly debating how to use their new grant money, and Minnie’s teenaged niece in town ostensibly to work for the summer. The moody seventeen-year-old is almost as mercurial as Minnie’s Aunt Frances, who is finding retirement and being a newlywed to be less blissful than expected. Only Bookmobile Cat Eddie is behaving as expected, not only continuing as the traveling library’s star attraction but once again leading his humans to a dead body.
Devastated that her niece had the traumatic experience of finding the corpse of bookmobile patron Rex Stuhler, Minnie is guilted into tracking down the killer in order to give the teen closure. Kate – not Katrina, please – was moody and snappy before they discovered the gunned down pest exterminator, and now she is livid that Minnie seems to be disregarding theories of jealous spouses and hitmen-for-hire. Pluckily determined to be the best aunt possible, Minnie nags the detectives into pursuing her own leads of marijuana farms, property disputes, and broken alibis. It barely gives her time to alleviate her aunt’s worries that the boarding house she gave over to Cousin Clarissa isn’t keeping up the traditions of matchmaking and DIY breakfasts, help boyfriend Rafe Niswander with their home renovations, and undercover the secrets of how to handle temperamental teenagers.
Assistant Director Librarian and Bookmobile Librarian Minerva Joy Hamilton continues to be the delightful and charming lead of this series celebrating joys of library services. The patrons she and Eddie meet on their scheduled runs not only connect them to the Lower Michigan community, they give Minnie the clues she needs to solve the mysteries she somehow keeps falling into. Six years of living in her aunt’s hometown have Minnie adopting the traditional us vs. tourists mentality, complicated by their dependence on visitors for their economy. Minnie and her friends continue to be the draw of this very funny and heartwarming series, with the characters continually to evolve and becoming central to the storylines. Eddie is, of course, the star here as well, not only accidentally providing clues but perhaps inadvertently coming to the rescue in a hilarious-but-suspenseful conclusion. Books, family, romance, and of course, a library cat make this a winning series for mystery readers and fans of these cozy adventures.
Murder Can Confuse Your Chihuahua: A Haunted Craft Fair Mystery by Rose Pressey
Review by Cynthia Chow
You know you’re in for a treat when chapter heading craft fair advice suggests, “Don’t be afraid to ask for help with customers if you need it. Also, maybe they can help with the ghosts and locating a killer.” Indeed, artist Celeste Cabot has recently discovered her gift of painting hidden skeletons in her artwork, which has not only led her to victims but helped her to track down the killer. Her 1947 pink Ford F100 truck and equally adorable trailer is now parked in Cherokee, North Carolina, for the annual Farewell, Summer Arts and Craft Fair, but it is her Chihuahua Van Gogh who leads her to her next dead body. It doesn’t take long for the authorities to identify the corpse as that of artist Erica Miller, or for FBI agent Detective Pierce Meyer to arrive for the case on federal lands. His desire to investigate the personal life of Celeste complicates her relationship with Caleb Ward: wood sculptor, Tennessee Bureau of Investigations detective, and human companion of the German shepherd appropriately named Gum Shoe.
While both men would prefer that Celeste not endanger herself yet again, the unexpected occurrence of one of Celeste’s paintings coming to “life” prevents that. A woman calling herself Ama walks out of the canvas, declaring herself to be an alternative dimension traveler whose family lived on the lands 200 years ago. Ama encourages Celeste’s interest in the recent murder, especially when Celeste is repeatedly confronted by the menacing visiting artist Danny Manslick. Erica’s friend April Beaumont is disturbing in her own way, overly emotional and with disturbing questions of her own. Celeste is quick to make judgments, often hurtling herself into situations that have her confronting witnesses and suspects. A visit to psychic medium Madam Gerard gives warnings that Celeste is very much in danger, but that doesn’t prevent her from continuing to be involved in the murder within the fair. After all, dealing with her well-meaning but ludicrous brothers has made Celeste accustomed to chaos, although the arrival of Ama’s equally deceased but even more judgmental grandfather is an unexpected challenge.
This second of the series by the very prolific author continues to ingenuously incorporate the paranormal into a cozy mystery investigation. The craft suggestions that are uniquely suited for a ghost-accompanied-prone-to-being-hunted-by-killers-artist are hilarious, making it a twist of the usual food or crafty hints prevalent in these series. Celeste’s artistic temperament often leads her towards making rash decisions, although she is taking her time as she dates Caleb while flirting with Pierce. Celeste is willing to lie in order to continue her pursuit of justice, accepting the risks as being a part of life. Perhaps the knowledge that those beyond this existence can continue to cross over has eased her fears over death, although her family and friends certainly have different viewpoints. This is a very fun and exuberant mystery full of humor and genial characters, not to mention adorable dogs with strong personalities. The conclusion is similarly unique and surprising, with a resolution that few could predict. Ending on a high note, and with a laugh, this series promises future fun and excitement in Celeste’s life.
The Girl with the Kitten Tattoo: A Cat Lady Mystery by Linda Reilly
Review by Cynthia Chow
Sherry Bowker blissfully celebrating the engagement to the man of her dreams, but her best friend Lara Caphart is having difficulty sharing that same sentiment towards love. Until now, the co-owner of High Cliff Shelter for Cats in Whisker Jog, New Hampshire, had been confident of her relationship with attorney Gideon Halley despite a few snafus when her safety was jeopardized during her amateur murder investigations. The arrival of an attractive young woman in town puts an end to that, as Megan Haskell is seeking out the help of the attorney she once dated. Gideon failed to ever mention this past relationship, which has Lara seeing green and on alert. It certainly doesn’t help when Megan is arrested, and the first call she makes is to Lara’s boyfriend. It seems that the former paralegal had angrily confronted her former boss Wesley Chancer at his own birthday party the night before, and when his body is found under his balcony Megan becomes the most probable suspect.
While it doesn’t take long for Gideon to cut off communication with the woman with whom he claims never progressed past being a friend, Lara finds herself drawn into Megan’s complicated life and the investigation into the murder. Lara would like to blame it on Blue, the spiritual feline guardian who only she can see and who keeps leading her into Megan’s path. Unable to resist Blue’s guidance and feeling it her duty to help track down a killer, Lara manages to combine the questioning of suspects with her duties as a maid-of-honor. When not arranging a pastor to perform ceremonies at a coffee shop (it’s the place where Sherry and David met), Lara juggles the purchases of dress shoes and fortune cookie wedding favors with the delicate task of interrogating the provider of both. Tina Tanaka’s family had been driven out of the restaurant business by Wesley Chancer, who would later harass and stalk her through texts. Prickly and not exactly welcoming to Lara’s intrusive investigation, the women discover an unpredictable commonality that binds them together in ways that few others could ever understand. It’s a connection that Lara desperately needs as she and Gideon hit a huge speed bump in their relationship, one that had recently seemed so strong and yet is now on the brink of a breakup.
This fifth in the series is a compelling standout as it examines the unexpected ramifications for those connected to an amateur detective. There is no small amount of emotional collateral damage when the investigator is frequently attacked and in danger, leaving those who love her always afraid and concerned for her safety. Lara’s friends can’t understand why she continues to place herself at risk by helping Megan, and even Lara herself can’t fully explain it to herself. By continuing to help Megan – who inserted herself into Lara’s life without sharing all of the truth and is taking advantage of her compassion – Lara jeopardizes her relationship with Gideon by giving out ultimatums of unwavering acceptance. Despite all of the romantic drama and turbulent personalities, comfort can still be found in the adoptions of Lara and her Aunt Fran’s cat shelter. Read-to-a-cat programs for children, an FIV positive tortoiseshell ready for a forever home, and especially the roly-poly black-and-white Panda who so closely resembles the kitten tattooed on Megan’s wrist all ensure that hearts will be warmed to the delight of the many cat-loving mystery readers. Plot twists, unexpected reveals, and a killer hidden under a kind face guarantee this as a suspenseful, unpredictable, and very entertaining read.
To enter to win a copy of all 3 pet mysteries, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “pets,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen June 6, 2020. U.S. residents only, and you must be 18 or older to enter. If you are entering via email please include you mailing address in case you win, it will be deleted after the contest. You can read our privacy statement here if you like. BE AWARE THAT IT MAY TAKE MUCH LONGER THAN USUAL FOR WINNERS TO GET THEIR BOOKS DUE TO THE CURRENT CRISIS.
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