Familiar Trouble By Carolyn Haines: Review/Giveaway/Guest Post

Sep 23, 2017 | 2017 Articles, Mysteryrat's Maze, Pets

by Doward Wilson
& Carolyn Haines

This week we have a review of a fun new cat mystery by Carolyn Haines, and an interesting guest post by Carolyn about how this new series came to be. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of Familiar Trouble. We also have a link to order it from Amazon..

Familiar Trouble: A Familiar Legacy #1 by Carolyn Haines
Review by Doward Wilson

Meet Trouble, the son of The Black Cat Detective Familiar. He and his Human, Tammy Lynn, live in the town of Wetumpka, Alabama. During the day they run the local bookstore, and at night Trouble immerses himself in watching episodes of Sherlock Holmes. Trouble is determined to grow up following in his famous father’s footsteps.

bookWhen Tammy Lynn is attacked and knocked out on Rook’s Vantage while using a friend’s telescope to hunt for the arrival of a new planet, Trouble is there protecting her until she comes to. Getting back down the ridge to her car she discovers that all four of the tires have been flattened. When the tow truck gets there, Trouble takes off going back up the trail they had recently come down. As the sun rises, Tammy Lynn follows Trouble to the edge of a sharp drop off. Peering over the side to see what is getting Trouble’s attention, Tammy Lynn is shocked to discover the nude body of the missing bank teller that she had just been told about by her friend, the tow truck operator. She and Trouble rush back down the trail and call 911. Deputy Aiden Waters takes the call and comforts Tammy Lynn while he gets the details. Hearing that the young woman had been strangled with a nylon stocking confirms his theory that the notorious and elusive John Wexler, the Silk Stocking Killer, was in the area. The serial killer moved into an area and got comfortable with the locals while spying on the young women he eventually kidnapped and killed.

As the FBI Agent profiling and working to find the serial killer, Aiden had gotten too close and the killer struck back. Aiden’s wife was taken and killed. Aiden left the FBI and continued to pursue leads to the killer’s current whereabouts. Taking jobs with local law enforcement let him follow the killer’s trail around the country. When he learned of a young Montgomery woman who disappeared on her way home from Wetumpka and later found dead, Aiden knew he was closing in on the killer. When Tammy Lynn is almost accosted in her parking lot, Trouble intervenes and scares off the person. As the suspects move up and down on Aiden’s list, Trouble continues his own investigation.

Carolyn Haines has given us the first book in a fantastic new series. Using the very resourceful Trouble as the central character gives us a two-way perspective on the story as he interacts with the Humans. I enjoyed all the characters and found them to be like old friends. The murder plot was well thought out with enough red herrings to make the ending a total surprise. Trouble in Dixie Familiar Legacy #2 is authored by Rebecca Barrett. We find Trouble in Savannah, Georgia, helping Tammy Lynn’s friend, Julia, at The Hampton Detective Agency. Cozy mystery and cat fans alike will love these characters, and I can’t wait to read more of them.

Doward Wilson is a retired and avid cozy, paranormal, and adventure reader who can’t say no to most books. He recently moved from Independence, Missouri to Gladbrook, Iowa. Located in Central Iowa, Gladbrook (population 900+) is small town, rural farming at its best.

The Mystery of Cats
by Carolyn Haines

I’ve always been a cat lover. There’s never been a time in my life when I haven’t owned at least one cat. Currently I have eleven because I took in two kitties from one of my former students who joined the Air Force. She needed peace of mind that her beloved pets would be okay. I also rescue cats, dogs, horses, an eagle once, a wolf once, and sundry other critters who show up in my corner of the world.

I believe that animals are here to teach us, and I’m trying hard to pay attention to the many valuable lessons they impart. But also, I just enjoy the heck out of their company. As I’m writing this column, Ares is perched on the bookcase eyeing Castor and Karma (all cats). Tundra, Buster, and Leroy are sleeping beside my chair (all dogs). The rest of the critters are scattered about the house. For the moment, peace reigns in Casa Carolyn. It won’t last. It never does.


Carolyn and Weezie, the Bay St. Louis (Mississippi) library cat.

I write mysteries, and cats and mysteries are a natural fit. Back in the 1990s, when I first moved out to my farm, someone left a black kitty in a carrier at my door. I named him E.A. Poe, and he was the first black farm cat. He was a big boy with a crooked walk, and he was so smart. He was intuitive, and he knew what I was going to do before I did it. From my experiences with Poe, I created Familiar the black cat detective. At the time I was writing as Caroline Burnes for Harlequin Intrigue. My editor, Tahti Carter, suggested that I create a series of stories about Familiar. What a fortuitous suggestion. In many regards, I owe my career to Tahti. For whatever reason, she took an interest in me and gave me a chance. Twenty-two books later, my wonderful cat died of kidney failure. I discovered I could no longer write about Familiar. He was too linked with my own dear Poe.

bookYears passed and my writing career moved in many different directions. Still mysteries, some humorous, with ghosts, with dark Southern characters. But two years ago, Harlequin gave me the rights back to several of my Familiar stories. I decided to indie publish them because people were always asking for them. Fear Familiar, Too Familiar, and Thrice Familiar are all available as e-books for only .99 cents. These stories have been met with such a wonderful reception that it warmed the cockles of my black little heart!

At the same time, I had this idea to write a new black cat series. Trouble, son of Familiar, was born. Where Familiar talked like Humphrey Bogart, Trouble had been raised watching Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes. He learned the detective trade from his dad, Familiar, but also from watching TV. Even though he lives in Wetumpka, Alabama, he has a slight British accent. And he is smart, sassy, and brooks no interference from the inferior “humanoids” that populate his world. Humans can open cans, drive, and perform some necessary chores, but they are never as smart as a cat.

Over the years of teaching and writing, I’d developed friendships with other writers. I thought it would be fun to take the character of the cat, Trouble, and each writer could create her own story. We began to plan out how this would work.

We’re essentially world sharing—the world of Trouble, who belongs to Tammy Lynn in Wetumpka, Alabama (which was built around an impact crater, a fascinating bit of history). The first book, Familiar Trouble (by me), introduces the intrepid feline sleuth who helps his bipeds solve a serial killer tale. I handed the story off to Rebecca Barrett, who wrote Trouble in Dixie. Here Trouble must solve art heists, murders, and has lots of romantic fun. Rebecca is best known for historical sagas and post-apocalyptic fiction. Just keep in mind that Trouble is a far better cupid than any human could be. Rebecca’s book featuring Trouble was published in August.

In September, Trouble goes to Florida for Trouble in Tallahassee by Claire Matturro. This is a bit of a legal thriller with some Florida heat in the romance department. A lawyer and a published author who is well known for mystery and humor, Matturro is a cat lover from way back. The book goes on sale September 12.

In October, Susan Y. Tanner kicks off her series within a series including horses! Trouble in Summer Valley Ranch is the first contemporary mystery by Tanner, who is best known for historical romance.

And we’re planning a Christmas surprise and a Valentine’s anthology, along with more books in the Trouble series. I’m figuring out this indie publishing business while still writing Sarah Booth Delaney mysteries and more Pluto’s Snitch. These characters are like family to me, and I spend a large amount of time with them each year, so never fear—they aren’t going away.

It’s been interesting sharing my cat with other writers. I love to read the stories where he blooms into life under their skillful hands. I hope you feel the same way.

Please sign up for my newsletter at www.carolynhaines.com. Follow us on social media at my FB page www.facebook.com/Carolyn.Haines.is.R.B.Chesterton and at Trouble’s page www.facebook.com/FamiliarLegacy. Visit the Familiar Legacy Blog. We have a lot of fun planned for the future.

To enter to win a copy of Familiar Trouble, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “trouble,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen September 30, 2017. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address, and if via comment please include your email address.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & short stories in our mystery section.

You can use this link to purchase the book on Amazon. If you have ad blocker on you may not see the link:

Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases using those links. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.


  1. Thanks for posting a great review. I am thrilled about these new books. And while I’m giving away a print copy of Familiar Trouble here–the e-version is up for FREE for a limited time. I hope you enjoy the story and read more of Trouble’s adventures.

  2. Sounds interesting —- thanks for offering to us!

  3. This book sounds so interesting. I am adding it to my TBR list. Carolyn Haines writes really goid books. Thanks for the chance to win.

  4. I have a black cat named Barnabus. Yes, after the vampire on Dark Shadows back in the 60’s, 70’s. Several months before we adopted him we had a tuxedo cat named Sox who passed from cancer. The same kind of cancer that my Dad had passed from just 2 months before. That was a lousy year. But we got an email from this shelter in Salem MA saying they had all these black cats and were having a hard time finding homes for them because of that silly superstition. I had my husband drive me there and I sat in the room and I let the cat pick me. Now he is our little buddy. He follows us everywhere. He doesn’t like to be alone.

    Thank you for the chance at the giveaway.

    • Paula, In each of our Trouble books, we feature a photo of a black cat and tell the cat’s story. I LOVE your story. Would you consider writing up 3 or 4 paragraphs and sending a photo of Barnabas to my assistant at priyancessbride@aol.com Priya is lovely, and we’d be delighted to feature Barnabas in the back of one of our books. We are all about helping shelters adopt black cats (and dogs) because people choose them last!

  5. What do you know? Another Cat mystery writer after my own heart. And a black cat, at that. We should have your Trouble and my Thumper (Black Cat) meet up and solve a crime together! The town would never be the same!!!
    Black Cat’s Legacy
    Black Cat and the Lethal Lawyer
    Black Cat and the Accidental Angel

    • I’m going to take Trouble to Zinnia, Mississippi (where the Sarah Booth Delaney mysteries) are set and Trouble and Pluto are going to work together on a mystery. No reason he can’t team up with Thumper too!

      • Would love to consider that. I’m just finishing my fourth Black Cat mystery, and Black Cat is alive and well in Fern Lake, CA (fictional town) where he lives with his lady love, Angel.

  6. I always love cozies with kitties!

  7. I’d love to read about Trouble. My Pippi and Annie have gone on to kitty heaven and I’m ready to read about another black cat. Also, I know Tammy Lynn and I used to live in Wetumpka, so I’m eager to read this book, FAMILIAR TROUBLE.
    Coco Ihle

    • Coco, I love Wetumpka. And Tammy. I m so attached to my animals–I understand how you feel. I’ve run a rescue for nearly 30 years, and most of the pets who show up here end up staying. But my heart is damaged from so much loss. I’ve helped a lot of animals, but I think I am ready to retire. Karma Kitty (my little black girl) will likely be the last kitty to come in (I have 11). And i have 8 dogs. I just lost my bet friend Buster. Heart sore and very sad.

      • Bless you, Carolyn! You’ve provided a wonderful home for so many!

  8. A perfect time of year for black cats, thanks for the chance to win a copy of this book. crs(at)codedivasites(dot)com

  9. Thanks for the chance#

  10. Sounds like a really interesting new series.

  11. I enjoy pet-themed cozies, and this series looks promising.

  12. Using different authors is a little different–and we’re having a blast doing it. I just lined up the 2018 schedule through next June! More to come!

  13. Love this author and would love to read this print book and review! ptclayton2@aol.com

  14. I absolutely love this author. I have pretty much read everything she has written, including the original “familiar” series with Harlequin Intrigue. Thank you for the chance to win a copy of this newest title


  15. I’ll look forward to reading this!!

  16. Doward, thanks for the review. Carolyn, thanks for your comments.

    Trouble sounds like fun. Will definitely check out these books.

  17. Sounds like a great read. New series to me.

    • Thank you all for commenting. We have a fine lineup for 2018, and if you sign up for my newsletter at http://www.carolynhaines.com we’ll have a free Christmas story about Trouble to give away. Rebecca Barrett is the author. “Trouble Under the Mistletoe.” (I could speak to that!) Have some fun with us.

  18. I look forward to reading this. As a fellow “cat lover”, I will always pick a book where a cat is some how involved, regardless of if its just a picture of a cat on the cover. Thanks for the chance to win and happy Oct 1!

    • I’m hoping for some cooler weather down here in Lower Alabama. October is one of my most favorite months. Thank you, and I hope you enjoy the cat books. Remember if you don’t win the drawing, the first one is free as an e-book. FAMILIAR TROUBLE.

  19. We have a winner!


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