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Cat Me If You Can By Miranda James: Review/Giveaway/Interview

IN THE September 26 ISSUE

FROM THE 2020 Articles,
andMysteryrat's Maze,
andPets,
andSandra Murphy
SECTIONS

by Sandra Murphy

This week we have a review of the latest Cat in the Stacks Mystery by Miranda James aka Dean James, along with a fun interview with Dean. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of the book, and links to purchase it.

Cat Me If You Can: A Cat in the Stacks Mystery by Miranda James
Review by Sandra Murphy

Charlie, Helen Louise, and Diesel are on their way to Ashville, North Carolina, to meet the Ducote sisters and the rest of their book club members for a week long discussion of favorite authors. The Ducote sisters reserved every room in the hotel for the group.

The first thing amiss is finding what looks to be a dead woman on the couch in their suite. It turns out to be, Cora, the maid, who says has narcolepsy. If she sits down, she falls asleep. Several guests are shocked to find her reclining in their rooms. Charlie’s relieved to find out she’s fine if a bit silly.

Ellie is one of the members. When her boyfriend, ex, she says, fiancé he says, shows up uninvited, he causes a scene. At the request of the Ducote sisters, he’s allowed to stay if he behaves. However, his body is found the next morning, in his room.

Charlie has helped solve murders a few times, but he’s at a disadvantage in Ashville. He doesn’t know anyone, has no rapport with the police, and realizes, this is close to a locked room, Agatha Christie style murder. In a hotel with no outside guests, the killer is among them.

The group is a mix of ages, marrieds and singles. The Ducote sisters are older, wealthy, and a force to be reckoned with. They’re traveling with their ward, Benjy. Zac is young, rather arrogant, and good looking. Paul Bowen is Melba’s date for the event. He’s few years younger than she is but doesn’t seem to notice. She seems smitten. Johnny Ray Floyd with his family, Ellen, Burdine and Elmore, and Celia round out the group.

When a second body is found, Charlie and Helen Louise are determined to help find the killer before another murder happens.

This is book thirteen in the popular series. Diesel, a Maine Coon cat, steals every scene he’s in, as it should be. Charlie and Helen Louise are a delight as an older couple who are deeply in love. This time Charlie has to solve the murders with only the help of Helen Louise and the Ducote sisters, no help from convenient gossip. His main problem is he likes the members of the group and has a hard time picturing who among them is a killer.

Another enjoyable addition to the series, this story is slightly different than usual in that the setting is away from Charlie’s hometown, adding an extra layer of suspense. Warning first time readers—you’ll fall in love with Diesel…oh yeah, and all those people with him, too.

Sandra Murphy lives in the shadow of the Arch in St. Louis Missouri. A Murder of Crows, edited by Sandra Murphy (a popular title so you need her name to search), has twenty-one cozy stories. Each features the collective name of an animal and a crime. The animals range from tarantulas, koalas, wolves, bears, jellyfish, toads, cats, dogs, alpaca, goats, penguins and more. No animals were harmed. The people weren’t so lucky. Available at the usual outlets, print or ebook.

Interview with Miranda aka Dean James:

KRL: How long have you been writing?

Dean: About fifty years, if you count my adolescent attempts at writing mysteries in the vein of Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden.

KRL: When did your first novel come out, what was it called, and would you tell us a little about it?

Dean: My first novel, Cruel as the Grave, was published in 2000. The heroine, Maggie McLendon, discovers after her father’s death that she has family she never knew about. She goes to visit them in Jackson, MS, and while she’s there, her wealthy grandfather is murdered. The killer is obviously a family member, and Maggie sets out to discover who did it.

KRL: Have you always written mysteries/suspense? If not what else have you written?

Dean: I’ve written primarily mysteries, both novels and short stories. I did write one children’s book for ages 8 to 12 as an assignment in a class, but it was never published.

Dean James

KRL: What brought you to choose the setting and characters in your latest book/series?

Dean: I grew up on a farm in north central Mississippi, and I wanted to set my Cat in the Stacks series in a small Mississippi town in the same general area. My publisher suggested I write about a librarian with a cat, and from that Charlie Harris and his Maine Coon cat were born.

KRL: Why did you decide to use a pen name with this series?

Dean: The publisher wanted me to use a female pen name because of the perceived market for the books, i.e., women who prefer to read cozies written by women. Plus, my own name, Dean James, disappears on the internet when you search it. You get lots of hits about a dead movie star instead.

KRL: Oh how funny. Do you write to entertain or is there something more you want the readers to take away from your work?

Dean: My primary goal is to entertain, but there are undertones sometimes of serious issues that you can’t help writing about, especially if you want to write about characters who aren’t cardboard.

KRL: Do you have a schedule for your writing or just write whenever you can?

Dean: I have a full-time day job as a medical librarian, so I have to fit in my writing time around that. Since I spend most of my day at work at a computer, I tend to write more on the weekends when I’ve had a chance to rest.

KRL: Do you outline? If not, do you have some other interesting way that you keep track of what’s going on, or what needs to happen in your book when you are writing it?

Dean: I don’t generally outline, though I do have ideas when I start a book about things that will happen. I jot down notes to myself. I set out to be a historian and my training taught me to be logical and analytical. I write straight through, no skipping about, writing scenes here and there. This approach helps me keep things mostly straight. There are always small lapses, though, that I have to go back and fix.

KRL: If you had your ideal, what time of day would you prefer to write?

Dean: Mid-morning through early afternoon.

KRL: Did you find it difficult to get published in the beginning?

Dean: I got a few rejections, but I broke into publishing with non-fiction. That eased the path somewhat into selling fiction.

KRL: Do you have a great rejection/critique or acceptance story you’d like to share?

Dean: I never had a nasty or unpleasant rejection, though I did get a badly mimeographed one when I was about twelve. I sent the “book” I had written (actually a long short story, but I didn’t know any better) to the publisher of Trixie Belden. They weren’t impressed!

KRL: Most interesting book signing story-in a bookstore or other venue?

Dean: At a library fundraising event, I was approached by a woman who looked at my books on the table, then looked at me, and informed me that she was “up to here” (indicating her neckline) with books about cats. What can you say to someone that rude and ignorant? I simply smiled.

KRL: Future writing goals?

Dean: To keep writing and entertaining readers as long as possible. I would like to write more books in two of my other series, and I also have an idea for a new series that I’m itching to try. But with my current job and publication schedule, I don’t have much time for that.

KRL: Writing heroes?

Dean: Agatha Christie, Margery Allingham, Elizabeth Peters/Barbara Michaels, and Georgette Heyer.

KRL: What kind of research do you do?

Dean: Depends on what I need to know. At my day job I have access to a lot of resources, plus I have found that experts are often willing to answer a question or two for a book.

KRL: What do you read?

Dean: Mysteries (cozy, historical, occasionally paranormal), historical fiction, historical romance, history non-fiction, science non-fiction about archaeology and ancient hominins.

KRL: Favorite TV or movies?

Dean: TV – Bewitched, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, As Time Goes By, I Love Lucy, To the Manor Born; movies: The Philadelphia Story, Bringing Up Baby, Some Like It Hot, Singing in the Rain, Pillow Talk, and many more.

KRL: Any advice for aspiring or beginning writers?

Dean: A couple of things: first, read, read, and read. Both good books and bad ones and learn to tell the difference. Also write the kind of book you find entertaining; don’t write to a trend.

KRL: Anything you would like to add?

Dean: I am deeply thankful to the readers who have made Charlie and Diesel successful. I couldn’t do it without them, and they inspire me all the time.

KRL: What is something people would be surprised to know about you?

Dean: That I have tattoos.

KRL: Ooh fun! Website? Twitter? Facebook?

Dean: I have three FB pages, but the two important to readers are the Miranda James and Diesel Harris pages. I do have a website at www.catinthestacks.com, but it’s woefully out of date. I’m working on getting it completely revised and brought up to date.

Thanks again for inviting me to participate!

To enter to win a copy of Cat Me if you Can, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “cat me,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen October 3, 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 WILL TAKE MUCH LONGER THAN USUAL FOR WINNERS TO GET THEIR BOOKS DUE TO THE CURRENT CRISIS.

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. Also listen to our new mystery podcast where mystery short stories and first chapters are read by actors! They are also available on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Spotify. A new episode went up this week!

You can use this link to purchase this book from indie bookstore Mysterious Galaxy, and KRL gets a portion of the sale:

You can use this link to purchase these book from 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. 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.

{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jaime Minter September 26, 2020 at 7:13am

Thanks for the chance! JL_Minter(at)hotmail(dot)com

Reply

2 Carol Knudtson September 26, 2020 at 7:28am

I just love these books. Thanks for the contest.

Reply

3 Glen Davis September 26, 2020 at 9:22am

Interesting interview! Count me in!

Reply

4 Katherine Holom September 26, 2020 at 2:43pm

Great interview! Congrats on the new release.

Reply

5 Kathleen C Kendler September 26, 2020 at 6:05pm

wonderful interview

Reply

6 Kara Marks September 27, 2020 at 8:11am

This sounds great! Legallyblonde1961@yahoo.com

Reply

7 Teresa Warner September 27, 2020 at 10:45am

Sounds good, count me in! tWarner(at)aol(dot)com

Reply

8 KarenM September 27, 2020 at 11:20am

I hope you were able to visit Ashville in person to do some research. I have been anxious to visit ever since I read the Sam Blackman series by Mark de Castrique.

I have also discovered your series and have enjoyed the books I have read so far.

Karen94066 at aol dot com

Reply

9 Dianne Casey September 27, 2020 at 11:28am

Great series! Would really love to read.
diannekc8(at)gmail(dot)com

Reply

10 Carl September 27, 2020 at 12:48pm

More Cat in the Stacks fun from Miranda James, count me in. Thanks for the chance to win a copy. crs(at)codedivasites(dot)com

Reply

11 Paula
Twitter: @Community_Books
September 27, 2020 at 6:36pm

What a great author and chance for a book

Reply

12 Meagan Meier September 27, 2020 at 6:55pm

Love the series! Thanks for the chance!

Reply

13 Margo Sue September 28, 2020 at 6:24am

Love this series!

Reply

14 Mary Holshouser September 28, 2020 at 8:59am

Love this series. Have followed
it since the beginning. Can’t
wait for the next installment.
thanks. txmlhl(at)yahoo(dot)com

Reply

15 Jo LaMore September 28, 2020 at 9:09am

Thanks for the interview. I enjoy all of Mr/Ms James’ works and look forward to future books.

Reply

16 Mel K September 28, 2020 at 10:57am

I have tattoos and love Diesel!

Meljprincess AT aol DOT com

Reply

17 Rosemary J September 28, 2020 at 11:01am

Enjoyed the interview. You asked good questions!.

Reply

18 Nancy Curtis September 28, 2020 at 11:22am

I love all the Cat in the Stacks books and look forward to reading Cat Me if You Can

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19 Judith Sickler September 28, 2020 at 1:15pm

I will neve r get tired with books about cats and this one looks so good. jasblue0324 (at) yahoo (dot)com

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20 Sally Fortney September 28, 2020 at 2:25pm

I love your series. It will be interesting to see Charlie and Diesel in Ashville. Stay safe and well.

Reply

21 Kari September 28, 2020 at 7:42pm

I have only read the first book in this series but have picked up the next two, really looking forward to catching up with Charlie and Diesel!

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22 Gabrielle September 28, 2020 at 10:31pm

Ooh, I can’t wait to read Cat Me if You Can. I’ve read all the books and hunger for more.

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23 Meg C September 29, 2020 at 1:58pm

This is one of my favorite series and it’s great to see another addition. Can’t wait to read it. Thank you for the chance to win. robbfan141729(at)yahoo(dot)com

Reply

24 Nancy September 29, 2020 at 11:15pm

Thank you for taking the time for the interesting and informative interview.
In this Year of Cancellation, I am so happy that your book release wasn’t cancelled too!
I love how clever your titles are. They really grab your attention. I really enjoy books that are written so well that I don’t figure out who the murderers are.
Thank you for the opportunity to win your lovely book.

Reply

25 Kim Heniadis
Twitter: @KHeniadis
September 30, 2020 at 8:32am

I need to catch up on this series… remember I enjoyed it and always looked forward to the scenes with Diesel. He reminded me so much of our Maine Coon, River. 🙂

Reply

26 Kelly Braun
Twitter: @69steelers2
September 30, 2020 at 8:35pm

Great interview… I love these books! Thank you so much for the generous opportunity to snag one of these, I appreciate it ?

Cheers-
Kelly Braun
Gaelicark(at)yahoo(dot)com

Reply

27 Mary V. Taylor September 30, 2020 at 10:22pm

I love your books and am so pleased you are a fellow medical librarian.

Reply

28 Linda Herold
Twitter: @1957
September 30, 2020 at 11:42pm

I am a fan of this author and love this book cover! lindaherold999(at)gmail(dot)com

Reply

29 Kathleen Davis October 12, 2020 at 10:28am

I would love to enter the competition please.

Reply

30 Lorie
Twitter: @mysteryrat
October 13, 2020 at 12:30pm

We have a winner!

Reply

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