No Cats Allowed

no cats allowedNo Cats Allowed
A Cat in the Stacks Mystery

Miranda James
Berkley Prime Crime, 2016

I have been on the waiting list since February for this book – maybe even earlier – and was not disappointed in having to wait so long! Another cozy mystery starring the beautiful Maine Coon, Diesel and his human, Charlie Harris. Charlie works as an archivist in the library of Athena College in Athena, Mississippi cataloging rare books and collections. He loves his job and takes Diesel with him every day – in fact Diesel goes with him practically everywhere in town! The library has a new interim director, Oscar Reilly, whom everyone loves to hate. He is an obnoxious, know-it-all bully and has no problem stirring up trouble wherever he goes. Is it any wonder he gets murdered? After a couple of chapters of his noxious nonsense even I was ready for him to be killed off! As in the previous Diesel mysteries, murders  just seem to follow Charlie around and he is on hand to help the local cops figure it all out.

This is another fun book to read. I had my suspensions early on who the killer might be; I think the author made it a little too obvious in this one. But that didn’t stop my enjoyment of reading the book. Even though I figured out who did it, I didn’t know why so that was a mystery until the end!! I enjoyed getting caught up with the familiar characters from the other books and reading how their literary lives are moving on. I’m hoping Charlie and Helen Louise finally get married in the next book and it’s a shame I’ll have to wait a year or so to find out!! I love this series and haven’t come across a bad one in the bunch!!

Rating:  4 paws

cropped-cropped-visiting-the-vet-2005.jpgReviewer: Toby

I read this as a part of the Summer Reading Challenge;

Topic: Read a Mystery or Thriller!

Click on the Library Logo to go to our Summer Reading Challenge Page!

VBPL_Logo_w tag

Chihuahua of the Baskervilles

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Chihuahua of the Baskervilles

Esri Allbritten

A Thomas Dunn book for Minotaur Books, an imprint of St. Martin’s Publishing Group, 2011

Late one night Charlotte Baskerville hears a certain bark outside her house; she runs to the window and see’s what she thinks is a ghostly apparition floating across the lawn. She runs outside to see a glowing, ghost-like Chihuahua run toward an old stone house and disappear. The next day she contacts a friend whose husband runs a magazine for paranormal believers and asks for help in verifying her sighting. What starts out as an investigation into a dead dog’s reappearance leads to several attempts on Charlotte’s life and ultimately  ends up in a real death – accident or murder?

Main Characters:

Team from Tripping Magazine:

*Angus MacGregor, writer for Tripping, a magazine that specializes in travelogues to vacation spots with paranormal activity; he leads the team in search of the ghost dog, Petey.

*Suki Oota, photographer, stylishly beautiful and sarcastic; she can take a photo on the brightest day and make it look creepy.

*Michael Abernathy, graphics designer & writer; super cynical about the whole paranormal thing. He thinks the ghost dog is just a bunch of who-ha.

*Charlotte Baskerville, owner of Petey’s Closet, a company named after her dearly departed Chihuahua, Petey, that sells stylish dog clothes.  
While the company has done really well and is making tons of money, Charlotte has still managed to anger a few people . . . (see below).

Secondary Characters:

*Thomas Baskerville, husband of Charlotte, who is pretty teed-off about his wife’s company doing so well. He’s a real horse’s a** (no offense meant to horses) and thinks her company is “pathetic. Animals aren’t meant to wear clothes.” (pg 2) You’d think he’d be happy about it since its bringing in the money, but he’s not. Like I said, a real horse’s a**.

*Ellen Froehlich, designer for Petey’s Closet, and also a little peeved with Charlotte. She feels the company has been a success because of her designs and as an employee, everything she designs belongs to Charlotte. She feels like she deserves a bigger piece of the pie.

*Cheri Baskerville, Charlotte’s granddaughter and a not-so-recovering alcoholic at the age of 20, is mad because she has to live with her grandmother (both parents are dead) on the condition that she is not allowed to drink, argues with her step-grandfather (Thomas) and in general is not a happy person; although should Charlotte die, she would stand to inherit a lot of money.

*Ivan Blotski, trainer of the dogs who appear in the catalog and former Russian circus performer, wants Charlotte to sponsor a television show with him as the star.

*Bob Hume, creepy next door neighbor; he’s overly friendly, tries pushing his all-natural dog food business (named Petey’s Pride) on the Baskervilles, very nosy, and enables Cheri with her hidden drinking.

This nice little cozy mystery makes a pretty good attempt at being light-hearted and funny. The quotes on the back of the book from other authors who reviewed the book  use words like “laughing”, “snappy”, “quirky”, and “fun.” I won’t be using any of those words. Yes, the book was mildly amusing but I think the author tried too hard. The characters were too clichéd and too  boring. There is certainly no emotional investment on the part of the reader even if it was an intriguing mystery and had me guessing all the way to the end.  And, if you are familiar with our reviews, then you know the Board much prefers books that require something of us. If I am going to invest precious time in reading a book then I want it to touch my heart and mind. So for that reason, I rate it . . .

3 out of 5 paws

selfie 092015aaReviewer: BobbieSue

 

Blood Rubies

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Blood Rubies
A Josie Prescott Antiques Mystery

Jane K. Cleland
Minotaur Books, 2014

Blood Rubies is a cozy murder mystery set in the fictional Rocky Point, New Hampshire with antiques as its underlying theme. This book is number nine out of a series of nine. In it, the reader is given a lesson in Russian Imperial antiques, namely the Fabergé Eggs as well as ‘gadget canes’ something I’ve never heard of. The story is basically an up and coming celebrity chef has a Fabergé egg that has been passed down through her family and she asks Josie to appraise it for her. While waiting for the egg to show up, the fiancé of the chef’s best friend is murdered and the priceless egg is found smashed beyond recognition around his feet. Together with the local police chief, Josie solves who killed the fiancé and where is the Egg, while trying not to be murdered herself.

Main Characters
*Josie Prescott, antiques dealer, appraiser and owner of Prescott’s Antiques
*Ana Yartsin, up and coming celebrity chef, asks her father to bring the family’s Fabergé Spring Egg to her in Rocky Point where she is filming her new TV show.

Secondary Characters
*Chief Ellis Hunter, local police chief and friend to Josie. He blatantly seeks her help in solving the murder constantly by asking “What would you do?” which doesn’t make him seem to bright.
*Ty, former local police chief and boyfriend to Josie. The moments between him and Josie are all sugary-coated-sweetness and romance. Blechhh!
*Heather Walker, Ana’s best friend and fiancé of Jason, seemingly so dazzled by Jason’s brilliance, can’t see him for the creep he really is
*Jason Ferris, fiancé of Heather, arrogant, mean-spirited and self-centered – which makes him a perfect murder victim
*Peter Yartsin, hot-headed, fly-off-the-handle brother of Ana and obsessed with Heather in a stalker-like way
*Stefan Yartsin, father to Ana and Peter, seems guilty from the beginning because he is most definitely hiding something!!

Most important character
*Hank, the Maine Coon Shop Cat

I enjoyed this book as its always fun to learn about antiques. The mystery was well thought out and all the various suspects eliminated one by one in a logical and thoughtful way. I guessed at who the murderer was almost from the beginning – not because of any evidence but because of the way his/her character was written. It was pretty obvious, at least to me. 

Blood Rubies is pretty far along in the Josie Prescott series and although it can stand alone for the most part, I did feel like I had missed out on previous stuff that might have made the events in this book more meaningful. That was a long sentence to say, it is a series book and it reads like a series book. It didn’t help that the author footnoted her previous books three  separate times when describing events or characters. And, as adult authors usually do, she is very, very descriptive when it comes to – well, just about everything. Does the fact that Josie sits and gazes out the restaurant window at “A small brown bird landed on a birch tree. It fluttered its wings for a moment, then grew still. . . . The little brown bird appeared to be resting, its head tucked under its wing.” (pgs 181-182) really make a difference to the story? Some readers may like little moments like these. I don’t; I think they’re just fluff. I won’t be reading the rest of the series any time soon – there are just too many other books on my to-read pile.

Rating: 3 out of 5 paws

Reviewer: BobbieSue

Jane Cleland  Jane K. Cleland

Other Books

Consigned to DeathDeadlly AppraisalAntiques to Die ForKiller KeepsakesSilent AuctionDeadly ThreadsDolled Up for MurderLethal TreasureOrnaments of Death

Faberge Eggs

File:Tsarevich (Fabergé egg)-crop.jpg The Tsarevich Egg is a Fabergé egg, one in a series of fifty-two jewelled eggs made under the supervision of Peter Carl Fabergé. It was created in 1912 for Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna as a tribute by Faberge to her son the Tsarevich Alexis (Alexei). The egg currently resides in the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. (Wikipedia)

File:Madonna Lily Egg.jpgMadonna Lily Egg in Moscow Kremlin Armoury, taken August 2003 by User:Stan Shebs 

File:Memory of Azov Egg.jpg  Photo of en:Memory of Azov Egg (1891) in Moscow Kremlin Armoury, taken August 2003 by User:Stan Shebs

File:Peterthegreategg.JPG  Peter the Great Egg

File:Romanov Tercentenary Egg-2.jpgRomanov Tercentenary Egg by Fabergé 1913

Dead with the Wind

 

Dead with the Wind

Dead with the Wind
A Southern Ladies Mystery

Miranda James
Berkley Prime Crime, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC, 2015

The two grand ladies-of-a-certain age are back for another murder mystery. This time they travel to St Ignatiusville in Louisiana for the wedding of a cousin’s granddaughter. Together with their “ward” Benjy (he is a college age young man who came to stay with them during the last book when his mother was killed) and their two rescued pets, Peanut the Labradoodle and Endora the Abyssinian cat, they help the local police solve the murder of 3 (or is it 2?) distant relatives.

Main Characters

*An’gel Ducote, the elder of the two unmarried sisters and the more direct of the two. She puts herself in the middle of the investigation of the accidental(?) death of her goddaughter, even when the local police say its’ an accident. She is not at all pleased when said police officer treats her condescendingly as an “old girl.” She stands toe-to-toe with him and only backs down when good manners insist upon it.
*Dickce Ducote, the younger of the sisters and more easygoing than her sister. She is charming, a bit flirtatious and dotes upon their goddaughter’s little girl – something An’gel would never do!
*Benjy Stephens, travels with the sisters but mostly looks after the animals. He also brings information he gleans from around the country home to the sisters to help solve the mystery.

Secondary Characters
*Mirielle Champlain, matriarch of the stately Southern home, Willowbank. She is afraid of conflict of any sort so when her granddaughter tears up an antique wedding gown during a temper tantrum, she has a massive coronary and is absent for most of the book.
*Jacqueline Mims, daughter of Mirielle and goddaughter to An’gel and Dickce, and even more afraid of conflict than her mother. She kowtows to both her husband and daughter and weeps through most of the book.
*Sondra Mims, spoiled rotten brat daughter of Jacqueline, is used to getting everything she wants when she wants it. She’s beautiful and knows it and is about to marry an equally beautiful man; only she refuses to wear the antique wedding gown her grandmother wants her to. She is a true ‘bridezilla’ and causes her mother and grandmother no end of grief at least until someone tosses her off the third floor balcony!
*Lance Perigord, Sondra’s intended and equally as beautiful and as dumb as she is. But he is also gay – which begs the question, why would Sondra knowingly marry a gay man?
*Horace Mims, second husband of Jacqueline and supposedly a shrewd business man but is in cahoots with another man in a bid to recover from some bad investments.
*Estelle Winfield, housekeeper for Mirielle and unbelievably rude to everyone she comes across. Tactfulness is not her watchword!
*Jackson, mild-mannered elderly butler at Willowbank. Certainly Jackson isn’t the murderer! He’s too caring and sweet!
*Trey Mims, son of Horace from his first marriage, has an EXPLOSIVE temper and is not happy that Sondra is marrying Lance.
*Richmond Thurston, long time family friend and lawyer for the Champlain family, is privy to family financial secrets.

So, there you have all the players in this multiple murder mystery. Read it and see if you can figure out who did the killing!

Another great book from Miranda James – a nice little cozy mystery about Southern families and traditions. James does an outstanding job of capturing the atmosphere and familial interactions of well-to-do Southerners. However, I would really like to see her (him) turn her hand – or pen, as it were – toward the not so well off folks of the South; there are just as many eccentric characters in the lower income demographic as there are in the upper incomes!

Rating: 4 out of 5 paws

selfie 092015aaReviewer: BobbieSue 

https://sp.yimg.com/xj/th?id=OIP.Ma0c9a1bab8bd26552a945657c9513304o1&pid=15.1&P=0&w=300&h=300Miranda James, aka Dean James

Its a labradoodle like Peanut!!

Its a Ruddy Abyssinian like Endora!!!

Arsenic and Old Books

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Arsenic and Old Books
A Cat in the Stacks Mystery

Miranda James
Berkley Prime Crime, Berkley Publishing Group, Penguin Group, 2015

Charlie Harris and Diesel return again, this time to solve the murder of a college professor that is widely disliked by students, faculty, Charlie and even Diesel. When the mayor of Athena, Mississippi shows up in the archive with 4 diaries that her husband’s distant grandmother wrote before,during and after the Civil War, a new war begins for those diaries. What do they contain that causes so much clamor and ultimately the death of the professor? Charlie and Diesel will find out!!

Main Characters
*Charlie Harris, librarian, semi-retired, working as an archivist in the local college library, most of his days are quietly spent cataloging old books and papers while Diesel sleeps in the window. Somehow trouble seems to find them and in this book its’ no exception. The Rachel Long diaries cause quite a stir, especially when Charlie starts discovering all the secrets it holds.
*Diesel, a gentle giant of a cat, a Maine Coon, seems to know exactly where to be at the right time. He does give Charlie quite the fright when he briefly disappears from the office.

Secondary Characters
*Lucinda Beckwith Long, Mayor of Athena, her family (and her husbands’) has a long history of politics, power and money in the region. Her son, Beck Long is running for state office and she donates the diaries in hopes his ancestor’s experiences will encourage voters
*Dr. Marie Steverton, history professor at the college, pushy, rude and totally unliked by any of the characters; she and Lucinda go back a long way and she wants those diaries. She has a definite way of getting what she wants, no matter who gets in the way.
*Kelly Grimes, another pushy woman who lies to Charlie about why she is demanding to see the diaries,

Continuing Characters
*Deputy Kanesha Berry, Sheriff’s deputy and reluctantly tolerates Charlie’s continuing presence in solving crimes.
*Azalea, Charlie’s housekeeper and mother of Kanesha; she keeps Charlie and Diesel well fed.
*Melba, secretary to Peter Vanderkeller, the director of the library, works downstairs from Charlie and Diesel; knows all the gossip around town
*Helen Louise Brady, Charlie’s love (he doesn’t like the word ‘girlfriend’), she makes an occasional appearance whenever Charlie and Diesel go to her place for lunch

Like the other books, I really enjoyed Arsenic and Old Books; although it wasn’t until the very end the arsenic came into play, the old books were there from the first page. The story delves into the past quite a bit as the diaries play an important role, but the story isn’t overloaded with static historical information. I really liked this book. The mystery is well developed and it wasn’t until the very end I figured out who the murderer was. I guessed several times along the way, but I was wrong. I guess that’s part of the fun of mysteries! Anyway, if you want a relaxing read, and a good mystery, this is the story for you. In fact, the only thing I didn’t like about it was that the mystery was over and the book had to end. I wanted to keep on reading about the folks of Athena, Mississippi!

Rating: 4 paws out of 5 because I can’t wait for 2016 to get here to read the next installment!!

selfie 092015aaReviewer: BobbieSue

“Miranda James” a pseudonym of Dean James

Murder By The Book » Where a good crime is had by all!Click on the image above for another review!

Miranda James - Cat in the Stacks mysteriesClick on the image above to be directed to Miranda James website!

And of course, I have to close the review with a picture of a Maine Coon!!