Double Booked for Death
A Black Cat Bookshop Mystery
Berkley Prime Crime, Penguin Group, 2011
This is the first in a series of cozy murder mysteries. It features a bookshop in New York City with an in-residence black cat who is basically a curmudgeon, but everybody loves him anyway – when he’s not attacking customers!
*Darla Pettistone, bookshop proprietor recently transplanted from Texas when her Great-Aunt Dee died and left the brownstone to Darla. Included in the building was a basement apartment, already rented out; a two story bookshop with 2 employees, 3 if you count the cat; and a third floor furnished apartment.
*Hamlet, almost solid black fat cat. He became the shop’s cat when he wandered in as a kitten and fell asleep behind a book of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Watch out for those sharp claws he wields all too often!
*Jacqueline “Jake” Martelli, Darla’s tenant in the basement (really ground floor), former police officer and de facto security guard for the store. She helps Darla investigate and solve the mystery of who killed Valerie.
*Professor James T. James, university professor, bookstore manager and a real snob when it comes to literature; well, actually he is a snob about anything he considers beneath him.
*Lizzie Cavanaugh, part-time book store employee, gregarious and gossipy; she carries the manuscript of her novel around with her everywhere, continually hoping it will be published.
*Valerie Baylor Vixon, noted author of the “Haunted High” and a b***h to everyone – including her fans. She arrives late for her book signing event and is later killed there.
*Officer Reese, police officer and friend of Jake’s who is investigating the accident/mystery.
* Everest, body guard & chaffeur, a mountain of a man
* Koji Foster, publicist, nice but a bit of a wimp
* Hillary Gables, agent, obnoxious and arrogant
* Mavis, personal assistant, she doesn’t say much even when Valerie is nasty to her
*Morris Vickson, Valerie’s brother who ends up being the primary suspect in his sister’s death
This is a good murder mystery – I really didn’t figure out the person who did it until the author let the reader know. The clues were well laid out, the suspects were given excellent reasons for doing the deed and were all gradually eliminated. The main character, Darla, is likeable, relatable and sure to following clues for many books to come. My favorite character was Hamlet: he is aloof, expects perfection from his servant and when he doesn’t he gives her the cat equivalent of “the finger” – sitting down, throwing his back leg over his shoulder and licking the base of his tail. Now that is feline attitude!
However, I was unable to give it a four – paw rating for the following reasons:
1. The author does go on – by that I mean she spends a lot of time describing various and sundry things in great detail; I am not a detail-oriented cat . I like to get to the meat of the story and stay there. There were pages where I skipped whole paragraphs just to keep reading about the mystery.
2. The book was published in mass-market paperback and the typeface is really small. This complaint is not the author’s fault but that of the publishers. Small print is difficult for me to read and if it’s hard to read I’m not going to enjoy reading it as much as I would a larger print. It doesn’t have to be LARGE PRINT, just a bit larger.
3. The story doesn’t have the charm of other cozy mysteries I’ve read. Maybe its because it is set in a big city and I’m a country cat; I don’t know. But I won’t be reading any of the follow-up books of this series anytime soon.
Rating: 3 out of 5 paws
More books in the series (not necessarily in order of publication):