Grey Expectations Clea Simon cover

I’m a huge fan of Clea Simon, and was eagerly awaiting this fourth book in the Dulcie Schwartz mystery series, featuring the Harvard graduate student, along with her new kitten Esme, and the spirit of her departed cat, Mr. Grey. When my review copy of Grey Expectations arrived, I cleared time in my schedule, because I was pretty sure that once I started, I wouldn’t be able to put it down. I was right.

In this book, we find Dulcie in a happy place. She’s settled in with her boyfriend Chris, a computer programmer, and her relationship with her new kitten, Esme, is deepening. Mr. Grey’s spirit is still around, providing his wise, if sometimes cryptic, counsel not just to Dulcie, but also to Esme, and, much to Dulcie’s delight, to Chris. Dulcie is making progress on her thesis about an incomplete gothic novel written by an unknown author in the 18th centruy, The Ravages of Umbria. Dulcie is trying to uncover the identity of this author, and, in the process of her research, at times almost finds herself identifying with the,  for her times, free-thinking and courageous woman, to the point where the mysterious author invades Dulcie’s dream.

And then, a phonecall from Dulcie’s friend Tricia disrupts the calm. Tricia claims that the police consider her a suspect in a possible homicide, and then she disappears. While trying to find her friend, Dulcie gets involved in a whirlwind of false identities, stolen ancient books, conspiracies, and murder. In the process, she uncovers some evidence that may put her thesis at risk. Through it all, the cats, both the ghost cat and the real cat, play a part in guiding Dulcie.

Even though the focus of the book is on Dulcie trying to solve the mystery around the stolen book and the murder, there’s a second mystery that is more prominent in this book than in any of the others, and that’s the mystery of the author of the gothic novel. The parallels between Dulcie’s life and the unknown author are woven throughout the story, and they hooked me as much as the cats did.

The passages featuring the cats, are, of course, my favorites. I could particularly relate to Dulcie’s emotions toward Esme. The lively, sometimes bitey, kitten is such a contrast to her beloved Mr. Grey, who was calm and settled. It reminded me of how I felt when I first adopted Allegra as a high-energy seven-month-old kitten, after being used to the quiet, gentle energy of twelve-year-old Amber. Like I did with Allegra, Dulcie realizes that sometimes, it takes a little time for a new love to grow, and following the softening of her heart toward the little kitten throughout the book melted mine.

This is an extremely well-crafted book. Clea’s elegant and almost lyrical prose and the multi-layered plot elevate Grey Expectations from a mere cozy mystery to serious literature. But fear not, all the elements that make a cozy such an enjoyable read are still present as well. The book can be read as a standalone, but I’d encourage you to read the entire series – it’s simply too wonderful to miss.

Clea Simon is the author of the Dulcie Schwartz and Theda Krakow mysteries and the nonfiction The Feline Mystique – On the Mysterious Connection Between Cats and Their Women as well as several other nonfiction books. For more information about Clea, please visit her website or her blog.

Clea Simon has generously offerd one autographed copy of this book to go to one lucky winner. To enter the giveaway, tell me in a comment why you’d like to win this book. For an additional chance to win, tweet about this giveaway or share on Facebook, and post the link in a separate comment. This giveaway ends Friday, April 6 .

This book was sent to me by the author. Receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.

Coming Thursday:
my review of  Clea’s new Pru Marlowe Pet Noir
Cats Can’t Shoot

And stay tuned for an interview with Clea’s cat Musetta!


27 Comments on Review and giveaway: Grey Expectations by Clea Simon

  1. Cute cover! I’ve been meaning to read this series for ages because the author and I overlapped in college. Thanks for the reminder.

  2. Clea Simon is new to me, thanks so much for the heads up. I would be thrilled to win a copy of her book.

  3. I would love to have this book simply because I love mysteries and cats, and haven’t read a good whodunit in a while. Also looking to explore an author new to me! Definitely, I intend to check out the “mytsique” non-fiction book. Thanks for the tip!

  4. I love Clea’s books, just read Dogs Don’t Lie. I would LOVE to win this book as I am a feline fancier and know it will be a great read! Thanks for the opportunity.

  5. I just finished the book “Dog’s Don’t Lie” and loved it. I’m a huge cat lover so this would be right up my alley. Thanks for the giveaway!

  6. I’m wondering HOW and why I’ve never read this author? I’m a bona fide crazy cat lady and a total bookaholic with a Kindle and not afraid to use it!

    Will definitely look up the author on Goodreads and Amazon. Thanks!!!

  7. Ingrid, please enter me-I am not familiar with these book-but a kitten that shares my name of course I want to know more.

  8. I love Clea’s books, too. I’ve read the earlier Dulcie Schwarz books and also thefirst in her new series, Dogs Don’t Lie.

    Glad to know they’re now available as ebooks. My sister loves cats and cozies and just got a Kindle for Christmas. I’m putting these on my list for her right now!

    Thanks to Clea for writing and to The Conscious Cat for hosting!

  9. Thank you, Stacey, for entering – and good luck! For what it’s worth, as of this month my Dulcie Schwartz feline mysteries are now available as e-books, which cross all borders! I also have a free Dulcie short story up on my publisher’s website,

    Ingrid – thanks so much for reading!

  10. I love Clea’s books! For some reason they aren’t available locally at our bookstores (even the BIG box stores) in Canada, so I would love to win a copy. I think these have to be some of my favourite mysteries. The story lines are always so tight and they always keep me is suspense and intrigue until the very end.

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