File M for Murder is the third in the Cat in the Stacks series by Miranda James. Set in Athena, Mississippi, the series features kind-hearted librarian Charlie Harris and his rescued cat Diesel.
Diesel is no ordinary cat. The 36-pound Maine Coon was named for his rumbling purr. He is a gregarious, outgoing, laid back cat who wharbles and chirps at the humans around him. Charlie is convinced that Diesel knows exactly what humans are saying to him, even if the humans can’t always understand his responses. Needless to say, Diesel is my favorite part of this book.
But File M for Murder is also a highly entertaining mystery: Famous playwright Connor Lawton, known not just for his plays, but also for his abrasive personality, returns to his hometown of Athena for a semester at the local college as writer-in-residence. Charlie Harris’ first encounter with Lawton does not endear him to the man. Charlie’s daughter Laura has also returned to Athena to teach at the college. Much to Charlie’s dismay, he learns that Lawton is Laura’s former boyfriend. When Connor is found murdered, Laura is the prime suspect. She is not helping her case when she steals a thumb drive from the crime scene.
Charlie knows Laura didn’t kill Connor, and sets out to find the real killer to clear his daughter’s name. With a little help from Laura’s brother Sean, and his faithful cat, Charlie follows a twisted trail of secrets and lies.
This cozy mystery makes for a leisurely and enjoyable read. It is well-plotted, and the protagonist and the secondary characters are multi-dimensional and likable. And of course, there’s Diesel. I fell in love with the cat in the first book in this series, Murder Past Due. I like that he is all cat: he does not talk except for his chirps and wharbles, and he does not solve the mystery. He’s just a thoroughly lovable cat who is an integral part of the story.
If you like cat mysteries and have not read this series, I highly recommend it. You don’t have to read the first two books in the series to be able to enjoy this one, but as with all cozy series, part of the fun is getting to know the characters and visiting with them again in each new book.
Miranda James is a pseudonym for Dean James, the author of over twenty books, both mystery fiction and non-fiction. He has won the Agatha and Macavity Awards for his non-fiction and has twice been nominated for the Edgar Award for Best Critical/Biographical work. Formerly the general manager of Murder by the Book in Houston, he is currently a librarian in the Texas Medical Center. He also writes under the pseudonyms Jimmie Ruth Evans and Honor Hartman.