A Midwinter’s Tail

6 midwinter's tail

A Midwinter’s Tail
Magical Cats: Book 6

Sofie Kelly
Obsidian, 2014

From the back of the book, “Winter in Mayville Heights is busy and not just because of the holidays. Kathleen is hard at work organizing a benefit to raise money for the library’s popular Reading Buddies program. She has her hands full hosting the event. And when a guest at the gala drops dead, her magical cats, Owen and Hercules, will have their paws full helping her solve the murder.

“The victim is the ex of town rascal Burtis Chapman, but she hasn’t lived in the area in years. And though everybody is denying knowledge of why she was back in town, as Kathleen and her detective boyfriend, Marcus, begin nosing around, they discover more people are connected to the deceased than claimed to be. Now Marcus, Kathleen, and her uncanny cats have to unravel this midwinter tale before the case gets cold.”

That’s right – Kathleen finally got together with Marcus. Thank goodness! Their on-again, off-again relationship was making me crazy. It’s stuff like that that can make me stop reading a series of books because it’s just so mind numbing –  for me, anyway. This mystery was another good one. I was really surprised when the murderer was revealed, although when I think about it, the clues were fairly obvious, I just didn’t pick up on them! Like any good mystery, there were a lot of red herrings and possible suspects to sift through, but Kathleen, Owen and Hercules figured it out.

The one thing that bugged me throughout the novel was a consistent misspelling of the victim’s name. She was introduced to the reader as Dayna Chapman. But about 1/3rd the way in the name was spelled Dana. From then on, through out the rest of the book the spelling of the name went back and forth between Dayna and Dana – sometimes in the same paragraph! Now for some folks, this wouldn’t bother them; but me – it bugged me big time. As we’ve said in previous reviews, misspelling in published novels is inexcusable due to the number of times the book is read/edited before printing. For non-professionally published cats like ourselves, an occasional spelling snafu is acceptable if our humom misses it. Therefore, we are resolved to point out spelling/grammar errors when we find them in published books!

Rating 3 out of 5 paws – Even though I love the way the author makes sure the library figures heavily in this series, the frequent spelling errors (make up your mind, author/editors how you want to spell the victim’s name!) brought the review down a whole paw.

Reviewer: bobbiesue-locBobbieSue

Buy a Whisker

buy a whisker

Buy a Whisker
Second Chance Cat: Book 2

Sofie Ryan
Obsidian, 2015

From the back of the book, “Things have been quiet in the coastal town of North Harbor, Maine, since Sara Grayson and her rescue cat, Elvis, solved their first murder. Sarah is happy running Second Chance, the shop where she sells lovingly refurbished and repurposed items. But then she gets dragged into a controversy over developing the waterfront. Most of the residents – including Sarah – are for it, but there is one holdout: baker Lily Carter.

“So, when Lily is found murdered in her bakery, it looks like somebody wanted to remove the only obstacle to the development. But Sarah soon discovers that nothing is as simple as it seems. Now, with the help of her cat’s uncanny ability to detect a lie, Sarah is narrowing down the suspects. Can she collar the culprit before the ruthless killer pounces again?”

Yes, of course she can!! She wouldn’t be our hero if she couldn’t. This 2nd book of the series had me stumped for a while – and the reason why the murder happened isn’t what it seemed at all. There is a large cast of reoccurring characters – 8 in all, not including the lie-detector cat, so there’s plenty of plot-line development which makes for a very good series but definitely not stand-alone books.  But, all in all, the many plot twists and turns as well as some fantastic ideas on repurposing junk make for a very quick and easy read. Elvis is pretty cool, too!

Rating: 4 out of 5 paws for a relaxing cozy murder mystery. Easily read at one sitting if you have the time – and its worth making time for!

Reviewer: bobbiesue-locBobbieSue

The Whole Cat and Caboodle

cat and caboodle

The Whole Cat and Caboodle
A Second Chance Cat Mystery: Book 1

Sofie Ryan
Obsidian, 2014

From the back of the book, “Sarah Grayson is the happy proprietor of Second Chance, a charming shop in the oceanfront town of North Harbor, Maine. At the shop, she sells used items that she has lovingly refurbished and repurposed. But her favorite pet project as far has been adopting a stray cat she names Elvis.

“Elvis has seen nine lives – and then some. The big black cat with a scar across his nose turned up at a local bar when the band was playing the King of Rock and Roll’s music, and he hopped into Sarah’s truck. Since then, he’s been her constant companion and the furry favorite of everyone who comes into the store.

“But when Sarah’s elderly friend, Maddie is found with the body of a dead man in her garden, the kindly old lady becomes the prime suspect in the murder. Even Sarah’s old high school flame, investigator Nick Elliot seems convinced that Maddie was up to no good. So it’s up to Sarah and Elvis to clear her friend’s name and make sure the real murderer doesn’t get a second chance.”

You may or may not remember a few weeks ago I posted a review of The Fast and The Furriest, which happened to be number 5 in this series of books and I admitted how confused I was in the beginning because the whole cast of characters (and there’s a lot of them) had a long background story and how they became friends and solved other mysteries together. I gave that book a 3 out of 5 paws because the book was unable to stand on its own, even though I did like the mystery. Well, now that I’ve read the first in the series, I am better able to understand the character involvement and what makes them tick. That understanding doesn’t change my rating of the other book, but it does make me like it more.

What the book publisher’s blurb doesn’t tell you is that Sarah has a group of friends, ‘ladies of a certain age’ who consider themselves detectives and help to solve the mystery. The suspect list wasn’t long but I surely didn’t think it was going to be who it turned out to be. I enjoyed reading about Sarah’s shop and how she remade/repurposed various items to sell. It makes me want to be a shop cat along with Elvis. And, speaking of Elvis, his particular talent is being able to tell when someone is lying. That could be a good skill to have – especially when your human comes home and tells you the store was out of cat food and you’ll have to eat scrambled eggs instead. (Not that my human would do such a thing!) Anyway, I like the book a lot and am looking forward to the next three so I can get caught up with Elvis and his people!!

Rating: 4 out of 5 books for a good cozy mystery that kept my interest from start to finish!!

Reviewer: bobbiesue-locBobbieSue

Patricia Highsmith / Strangers on a Train


Patricia Highsmith
Selected Novels and Short Stories

Edited with an Introduction by Joan Schenkar
W. W. Norton & Company, 2011

From the dust jacket, “Patricia Highsmith’s {1921-1995] dark talents, obsessive interest in love and murder, and macabre sensibility produced some of the most influential and deeply unsettling fiction of the twentieth century. For the reader uninitiated in the deadly world of her canon, this collection offers the first serious introduction to her remarkable range and psychological insight.

“…Even with her first novels, Highsmith tore at the very fabric of 1950s middle-class society, revealing the stark emotional brutality that lurked beneath the sunny façade of Eisenhower suburbia.

“Chosen by Joan Schenkar, the selections in this book – two iconic American novels and a trove of her most representative short stories – chart the virtuosic range of Highsmith’s voice, as she deftly leaps from suspense to horror, from biting social satire to deeply moving psychological drama. In Strangers on a Train (1950) – Highsmith’s debut novel and the inspiration for the classic Hitchcock film – a casual conversation between acquaintances devolves into a tangled web of murder, desperation, and manipulation. This thriller provides as thorough an examination of guilt and obsession as can be found in contemporary literature. Highsmith’s second novel, The Price of Salt (1952), is a seductive tale of sexual obsession that demonstrates the astounding versatility of Highsmith’s insight into human nature, and has only recently begun to receive commensurate literary recognition. Written during the intensely creative period of her late twenties, The Price of Salt blends Highsmith’s richly figured language with the then-scandalous subject of lesbian love. The accompanying thirteen short stories demonstrate Highsmith’s mastery of the short story form and reveal her to be as fine a craftsman as any American twentieth-century novelist.

“This volume introduces a new generation to the haunting fiction of one of our most underappreciated literary geniuses.”

Strangers on a Train – I saw the Hitchcock movie first, which is how I became interested in the author, and found it to be fascinating. Now, after having read the novel, the movie seems hokie. It’s certainly a product of its age (1950s) – with the hero winning in the end and having an all around positive ending. The novel, however, is dark and twisted with psychological torture and doesn’t have a nice, pat, happily-ever-after ending. The theme of ‘I-kill-for-me-you-kill-for-me’ has been used in other movies and television shows, but Highsmith did it first and best.

I didn’t finish the rest of the very large book. I wasn’t interested in reading the novel, The Price of Salt nor the author’s later short stories. I did read the earlier ones and after having read one that only alluded the sexual abuse of a child, I was sufficiently turned off to read any more.

Rating: for Strangers on a Train – 4 out of 5 paws; for the rest of the book, 2 out of 5 paws because I didn’t read all of it but the rest of what I did read was uncomfortable.
Reviewer:toby-loc Toby



Cat Got Your Diamonds

cat got your diamonds

Cat Got Your Diamonds
A Kitty Couture Mystery

Julie Chase
Crooked Lane Books, 2016

From the dust jacket, “Grandeur and opulence are everything in the famed New Orleans Garden District, where pets are family and no bling is too big. Opening Furry Godmother, pet boutique and organic treat bakery, is Lacy Marie Crocker’s dream come true. After returning home following a nasty breakup with her (now ex) fiancé Pete the Cheat, it’s exactly the fresh start she needs, despite her old money mother’s disapproval.

“Full of peanut butter pupcakes and bacon-infused pawlines, and displaying sparkly Shih Tzu tutus and swanky cat headscarves, Lacy’s pink-and-green, chandeliered shop is a pet lover’s paradise. That is, until a man attacks her in her shop only to turn up dead the next morning – with her glitter gun as the murder weapon. And Lacy becomes public enemy #1.

“Now handsome yet dogged Detective Jack Oliver is hounding her, her business investor wants out before his name is tarnished by association and a string of jewel heist has locals on edge. To save her dream, Lacy must make a stand, put her keen eyes to work, and unravel what really happened at her shop that night. But can she sniff out the killer in time to get her tail-raising designs on the catwalk?”

This was a fun book to read even though it’s a formulaic cozy mystery. I consider books like this a day at the beach for the brain – they’re relaxing and easy to read after taxing day at work or reading what I call a heavy or thought-provoking book. There’s a beautiful woman who has turned to sleuthing to prove her innocence, the dashing male detective who thinks she’s guilty at first, and an odd assortment of family and friends who come to her aide. The only thing missing in this first book is a four-legged companion!

Rating 4 out of 5 paws – the lush New Orleans atmosphere is palpable; the mystery is nicely twisted and the solution was a total surprise! Plus, there’s recipes for Pupcakes, Pawlines, and Tiny Tuna Tarts in the back of the book that sound really good – especially the tarts because, well, it’s got tuna!! Get your human to make you some snacks, then sit back, read and enjoy!!