I’m a huge fan of Clea Simon, and was eagerly awaiting this fifth book in the Dulcie Schwartz mystery series, featuring the Harvard graduate student, along with her kitten Esme and the spirit of her departed cat, Mr. Grey. I knew enough from reading the previous four books to set some nice chunks of reading time aside when I received my review copy of True Grey, because once you pick up one of Simon’s mysteries, you’re not going to want to put it down.
In this book, we find Dulcie finally making some real progress on her thesis about an incomplete gothic novel written by an unknown author in the 18th century. But just when things are going so well, Melanie Sloan Harquist, a visiting scholar, shows up and claims that not only has she found the incomplete novel, she is preparing to publish a biography of Dulcie’s author! Dulcie is devastated, because this would mean that years of research were wasted. Dulcie makes several thwarted attempts to contact Harquist. When she finally plans to pay a friendly visit, it’s too late: she finds the woman murdered, and ends up – literally – with blood on her hands. To make matters worse, Dulcie had threatened to kill Harquist just days before the murder when she was venting her frustration about the situation to friends.
Dulcie looks like the prime murder suspect, and does everything she can think of to clear her name. When she finds out that the dean of students had a strong connection to the murder victim, the plot thickens. When the dean accuses Dulcie of plagiarism, she is beside herself. Dulcie’s anxiety level rises constantly throughout this book, and she doesn’t get much help from her distant and preoccupied boyfriend. Colleagues who appeared to be friends start to look suspicious. And even her ghost cat, Mr. Grey, and her adorable kitten Esme, are more cryptic than helpful with their advice.
In addition to Dulcie’s race to clear her name and find the murder victim, Simon masterfully weaves in a subplot about the anonymous author of the gothic novel. The juxtaposition of the two story lines will keep you guessing all the way to the end.
Of course, I thoroughly enjoyed the passages with the two cats, and they’re plentiful throughout the book, but this entire book is an edge-of-your-seat, suspense filled read. Add in Simon’s beautiful, highly descriptive, well-nuanced and sometimes lyrical prose, and you’re in for a multi-layered treat of a book. The book can be read as a standalone, but I’d encourage you to read the entire series – it’s just too good 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 offered 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, Google+ or Pinterest, and leave a separate comment letting me know that you shared. This giveaway ends Friday, December 7, and is limited to readers in the United States only .
This book was sent to me by the author. Receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.
Coming Wednesday: a guest post by Clea Simon about her writing process…which is ruled by her cat Musetta.