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.
When 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.
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.
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.
Years 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.
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