Trouble Restored: Trouble Cat Mystery By Carolyn Haines: Review/Giveaway/Guest Post

Sep 25, 2021 | 2021 Articles, Cynthia Chow, Mysteryrat's Maze

by Cynthia Chow
& Carolyn Haines

This week we have a review of the latest Trouble Cat Mystery by Carolyn Haines, along with a fun guest post by Carolyn about ghosts as we head into Halloween month! Details at the end of the post on how to enter to win a copy of the book, and a link to order it from Amazon.

Trouble Restored: Trouble Cat Mystery by Carolyn Haines
Review by Cynthia Chow

Following the death of her uncle Samuel, Tommy Sykes finds herself the unexpected heir of the historical Loftus Manor in Wetumpka, Alabama. The beautiful money-pit requires extensive upkeep and renovations, which is why Tommy is hiring a pair of HGTV stars to help her remodel her manor into an income-generating inn. Handsome, but unsociable, handyman Harley Jones hates the idea of change, but even he has to admit that an inn is preferable to it being sold, torn down, and replaced by a subdivision. Tommy’s not the only one with plans for the manor, though, as she’s barely had time to settle in before surprise heirs announce their intentions of getting their share of Samuel’s property. While even his lawyer admits that Samuel had his flaws, those closest to him are unable to accept that he lived a double life that included secret marriages and illegitimate children.

Fortunately for Tommy and the manor, an experienced investigator is on hand with a sixth sense that can shake out motives and the truth from the questionable heirs. Trouble is the feline companion of Book Basket owner Tammy Lynn, a humanoid who can testify to his talent for sniffing out crimes. His narrations are interspersed with those of Tommy’s and Harley’s, who have also grown suspicious about circumstances of Samuel Loftus’s “suicide.” Rumors of the manor being haunted and Tommy’s confrontations with an intruder lead the humans down a path of tracking down medical reports and history records, while Trouble uses his senses and keen observational skills to nudge the less wily bipeds towards an alarming conclusion.

This is the lucky thirteenth installment of a series that began with Carolyn Haines’ Familiar Trouble and has since been continued by a variety of talented authors, all of whom celebrate the bonds between cats and their humans. Here Carolyn Haines returns to share the exploits of Trouble, the son of Familiar and whose real-life counterpart had an affection for Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock. Each of these books can be read on their own, for while they follow the adventures of an assortment of new humans, all feature the same black cat noir detective who helps them solve crimes while also finding true love. Fans of Carole Nelson Douglas’s Midnight Louie will adore this series, as Trouble has the snappy narration and savvy detective skills to match any hard-boiled detective. The humor and dash of romance perfectly blend with the sly tone of this novel, which depicts small-town crime with big city motives. This is a charming mystery of intrigue, ghosts, and greed, one that deftly leaves readers satisfied and with the comfort of being given a warm hug.

Cynthia Chow is the branch manager of Kaneohe Public Library on the island of Oahu. She balances a librarian lifestyle of cardigans and hair buns with a passion for motorcycle riding and regrettable tattoos (sorry, Mom).


by Carolyn Haines

I have always loved ghost stories. I grew up reading Shirley Jackson, E.A. Poe, Sir Author Conan Doyle (The Hound of the Baskervilles is chilling!), and so many other wonderful writers. Magazines like The Saturday Evening Post always published the best short fiction. I’d park myself on the sofa in the living room that no one in my family ever used except at Christmas and read on a hot summer day. It was heaven.

I was also blessed to grow up in a family that practiced the oral tradition of stories. My parents were vivid fiction fabricators, but my grandmother was the premier ghost storyteller. There were three of us kids—I was sandwiched between two boys—and it became abundantly clear that while threats of punishment couldn’t make us behave, a delicious, chilling ghost story would make us jump under the covers by Grandma and be oh, so quiet! Grandma was a gentle woman, but she knew how to get the old pulse pounding.

Carolyn and and her great-niece, Jordan. She did her makeup for Halloween

“Bloody Bones,” “The Living Hand,” and “The Ghost of Leatherberry Slough” Grandma told these stories over and over again, changing them whenever she took a notion so they were always new to us. But she also told us stories of her own life, of things she’d seen and experienced. Both my grandmother and my mother had “the sight,” and that made her stories even scarier, like the ghost of the drowned woman at the bridge over Indian Creek. Grandma had seen the apparition one night when she was going home late from church. She’d been a young mother then in a horse-drawn carriage. The ghost had spooked the horse and she’d almost ended up in the creek where the other woman had drowned.

I grew up in a haunted house. The ghost of the original owner haunted the place. It was a big house with fourteen-foot ceilings and an attic fan. It was on an acre lot so there were no really close neighbors, and my brothers played a lot of pranks on me. But there was something about the house that let me know there was a presence there. Something to be aware of, if not afraid of. I saw Miss Victoria only once in the years we lived there, but it was plenty for me, even though my mother assured me she was harmless.

My mother and grandmother never tried to convince me I hadn’t seen what I thought I’d seen. They did try to allay the fear that came with my spirit sightings. They also knew my imagination was affected by the scary stories I read or watched including the most delicious Boris Karloff’s Thriller or Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone. Yes, we were a family that watched the scary shows together.

Along with the Trouble Cat detective books and Sarah Booth Delaney mysteries, I’ve written some creepy books. The Darkling and The Seeker are pretty scary (but not gory). I love writing them—though I have had to call my neighbors, Tommy and Angie Beech, to come over and check my closets. It should embarrass me, but it doesn’t. I get so caught up in the story when I’m writing that I can scare myself. As some people would say, “small minds are easily entertained.” I do love the classic scary, not the slasher or stories that give me the dreads. Ghost stories are my absolute favorite.

It was only natural that I would eventually put Trouble, the black cat detective, in a house that might be haunted. Cats do have a sixth sense about spirits. When I bought a pickup truck at auction several years back, my yellow cat Chester hated it. He would walk by and hiss at it.

One night I was hunting Chester to bring him inside. I stepped out in the chill November air and the tallow tree beside the truck started quaking. The dying leaves were rattling. There wasn’t a wind, but I thought maybe birds, so I turned my high-beam flashlight up into the tree to see what was making it quiver when all the other trees were still. Nothing. As I moved the light down, I saw a man sitting in my truck. He gripped the steering wheel and spoke to me. The light in the truck became blue and shifting, like the light in a swimming pool at night. I was terrified but I couldn’t move. And he kept trying to talk to me. At last I got my feet working and I bolted into the house.

I saw him several times—never when I had someone with me, darn it! And after consulting with a friend, I went out to the truck at midnight with some blessed water and a candle. I asked him what he wanted and told him he should move on, that he had no place among the living. I lit the candle, sprinkled the truck with the water, and waited. He didn’t return, and I haven’t seen him since, and yes, I have the truck still. It’s twenty-five years old and runs like a top!

Is there a real ghost in Trouble Restored? Now you know I can’t tell you that. It would spoil the story. But if you have any ghost stories, I sure would love to hear them.

To enter to win either a print or ebook copy of Trouble Restored, 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 October 4, 2021. 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 WILL TAKE MUCH LONGER THAN USUAL FOR WINNERS TO GET THEIR BOOKS DUE TO THE CURRENT CRISIS. BE SURE TO STATE IF YOU WANT PRINT OR EBOOK.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Be sure to check out our new mystery podcast too with mystery short stories, and first chapters read by local actors. A new episode goes up next week.

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

Carolyn Haines is the USA Today bestselling author of the Sarah Booth Delaney mysteries. She also works with several authors on the Trouble, black cat mysteries series. Trouble Restored is the latest book in that collection.

Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. 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. Sounds interesting! Count me in!

  2. First I’ve heard of this series, sounds like a great read. Thanks for the opportunity.

  3. I’ve never had any ghost encounters and pretty sure I wouldn’t want to. Too scared. Thanks for the giveaway.

  4. I love these kind of books. Would love to read & review them in print format.
    Love that Halloween and the niece did a wonderful job on the makeup.
    I think this is the purrfect book for an anytime read. Got to love the cover and that title, excerpt, cover just makes me want to read it.
    Please enter me hope I Win

  5. I’ve never met a ghost and enjoyed
    reading the stories of those you’ve
    met. Stay safe. Print copy
    please. Just found this series
    awhile back and want to continue
    it. thanks. txmlhl(at)yahoo(dot)com

  6. Perfect book for the Halloween season and I love cat characters.

  7. Your book sounds so good and the cover does too!!
    Love your picture!
    Thank you for your wonderful giveaway!!

  8. Sounds like my kind of read!

  9. Great series. Would enjoy reading. I prefer a print book. Thanks for the chance.
    diannekc8(at)gmail (dot)com

  10. Trouble Restored sounds like a wonderful and enjoyable book that we should all “paws” and read. I do not know any ghost stories.

  11. Trouble is at his best when searching out spirits from the great beyond…or the attic. Read his thoughts with Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlockian voice in your head and it’s even better…if that’s possible.

  12. We have a winner!


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