Published by: Ingrid King. Last Updated on: February 2, 2023 by Crystal Uys


I always look forward to a new installment in Clea Simon’s Dulcie Schwartz mystery series, featuring the Harvard graduate student, along with her kitten Esme and the spirit of her departed cat, Mr. Grey. This series has become one of my favorites. In Stages of Grey, the eighth book in the series, Dulcie is still working on her doctoral thesis about a mysterious 19th century author of two gothic novels. Her relationship with her boyfriend Chris finally seems to be on an even keel, and her black and white spirited cat Esme, and the spirit of her beloved Mr. Grey, are both guiding her through life as best as they can.

But of course, we know by now that it’s impossible for Dulcie to not become involved in murder. When an actor at an experimental theater troupe is found dead, Dulcie can’t help but start to ask some questions. The fact that the theater has a resident cat, who gets temporarily displaced in all the activity following the discovery of the body, makes it even more important to Dulcie to take part in the investigation. Before long, Dulcie finds herself caught in a web of confusing relationships between students and actors as she tries to find the missing theater cat and unravel the mystery.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, both for the intricate plot and for the relationship drama. Dulcie seems to be more flaky than usual in this installment, but the author paints her personality in such an endearing manner that you can’t help but like her. I felt quite protective toward Dulcie; I found myself thinking “don’t do it, Dulcie!” frequently throughout the book.

Clea Simon has another winner on her hands with this installment. If you enjoy mysteries with lots of plot twists and plenty of cat references, you’ll love this one. The author provides enough backstory so that Stages of Grey can be read as a standalone, but why deprive yourself of the fun of reading the entire series?

The author has generously offered up an autographed copy for one lucky reader.

Clea Simon is the author of the Theda Krakow and Pru Marlowe 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.

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