cat mysteries

A life in cats, real and fictional

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Guest post by Lucy Burdette

When Ingrid asked if I’d like to write a blog about cats in my life as models for the cats in my books, I couldn’t wait to get started!

As I was about to turn thirteen, awkward and shy and brimming with early teenage yearning, I wanted only two things for my birthday. One was a date with Micky Dolenz of the Monkees. Which I could never have handled even had it been possible.

My second wish was for a kitten. Unfortunately, my birthday is in January and we lived in frozen Michigan, so kittens were scarce. But my pet-loving mother searched the animal shelters within a fifty mile radius and tracked down an orange tiger kitten. He had already been returned by one family, and so came with a “no refund” receipt.

Tigger was a huge hit, Continue Reading

About the author

Review and giveaway: Cat in a White Tie and Tails by Carole Nelson Douglas

Cat in a White Tie and Tails cover

Carole Nelson Douglas’ Midnight Louie series, featuring feline detective Louie and his human, public relations specialist Temple Barr, is probably one of the longest running and best known feline mystery series.

In Cat in a White Tie and Tails, the twenty-fourth book in the series, Louie accompanies Temple and her fiancé, rising media star and former priest Matt Devine, to Chicago so she can meet his family. Louie is catnapped right out of Matt’s mother’s living room. In a series of twists and turns, the kidnapping leads the reader back to Las Vegas. Meanwhile, Las Vegas homicide detective Molina has commissioned Temple’s former boyfriend, magician Max Kinsella, who suffers from amnesia following a recent attempt on his life, to help solve some old cold cases. In a series of wild twists and turns, involving Molina’s former boyfriend and father of her daughter as well as stonecold killer Kitty the Cutter who may have returned from the dead, Louie and his partner in crime and his daughter, Midnight Louise, have their paws full trying to tie up all the loose ends in a fast-paced, fun read that will leave the reader breathless.

If you’re a fan of the series, you will love Continue Reading

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Miss Marple, Feline Detective: It’s a dog’s life? I think not!

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Guest post by Miss Marple

Why is it that humans can’t leave well enough alone?  We could all live long and happy lives if they’d act more like cats.

Hello, my name is Miss Marple, and I dominate a woman named Tricia Miles.  She has provided me with everything a cat needs.  A lovely home, a purpose and a place to work everyday, and sees to all my worldly needs:  food, toys, catnip.

But recently when she goes out, she often comes homes smelling of DOG.  One dog in particular.  An incredibly self-satisfied bichon frise named (of all things) Sarge.  Perhaps he is aptly named, though, as he tends to come charging into a room barking orders like a drill sergeant.

This DOG keeps arriving in our store, usually in a big pink purse being carried by Tricia’s sister.  Continue Reading

About the author

Book review: How to Moon a Cat by Rebecca M. Hale

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How to Moon a Cat, the third book in Rebecca Hale’s Cats and Curios series, featuring a protagonist also named Rebecca, who has inherited her uncle’s antique shop, and her two cats, Rupert and Isabella, is not your average cat cozy.

From the publisher:

When Rupert the cat sniffs out a dusty green vase with a toy bear hidden inside, his owner has no doubt this is another of her Uncle Oscar’s infamous clues to one of his valuable hidden treasures. Eager to put together the pieces of the puzzle, she’s soon heading to Nevada City, accompanied by her two cats, having no idea that this road trip will put her life in danger.

This summary doesn’t do the book justice. I’m not even sure I would classify this book as a cozy, because it’s so much more. Continue Reading

About the author

Book review: The Cat, The Wife and The Weapon by Leann Sweeney

The cat the wife and the weapon Leann Sweeney

I’d been looking forward to The Cat, The Wife and The Weapon. I love reading cozy mystery series, especially when they feature cats. To me, reading books that are part of a series is like having a joyful reunion with old friends that you only get to see once a year.

This fourth book in Leann Sweeney’s Cats in Trouble series once again features cat quilter Jillian Hart and her three cats Merlot, Chablis and Chiraz, along with her human friends, who all live in the small town of Mercy, South Carolina.

The first thing I did, as I do with most books, was read the plot summary on the back cover:

When quilter Jillian Hart returns to her lake house in Mercy, South Carolina, she discovered her friend, Tom, is missing-and his estranged half-brother has moved into Tom’s house. Jillian doesn’t trust the guy, especially since he allowed Tom’s diabetic cat to escape. When police officers find Tom’s wrecked car with a dead stranger inside, Jillian is determined to find out what happened to Tom-before someone else turns up dead.

And then I couldn’t believe my eyes. Continue Reading

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Review and giveaway: Grey Expectations by Clea Simon

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.Continue Reading

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Book review: The Cat Sitter’s Pajamas by Blaize Clement

the-cat-sitters-pajamas-blaize-clement

I first discovered Blaize Clement’s Dixie Hemingway series when the cover of the first book in the series, Curiosity Killed the Cat Sitter, caught my eye.  Dixie Hemingway is a pet sitter who lives on one of the Florida keys – just based on those two pieces of information, I had a feeling I was going to thoroughly enjoy the series, and I wasn’t disappointed.  I’ve since read the entire series, and I was eagerly awaiting The Cat Sitter’s Pajamas.

From the publisher:

Blaize’s beloved heroine Dixie Hemingway is back for another adventure, and she has her hands full when the worlds of celebrity hijinks, counterfeit fashion, and naughty cats collide.

Dixie Hemingway, no relation to you-know-who, accepts a job taking care of famous linebacker Cupcake Trillin’s cats, Elvis and Lucy, while he’s away. But what seems like an easy job turns scary when Dixie finds a celebrity fashion model in Cupcake’s house. The woman refuses to leave AND she also claims to be Cupcake’s wife. But Dixie has met Cupcake’s wife, and this woman certainly isn’t her.Continue Reading

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A day in the life of an author’s cat

Fred, Lorna Barrett's cat

Guest post by Fred, owner of
New York Times bestselling author Lorna Barrett

Hello, my name is Fred. I’m a Tuxedo. That means I’m black and white. And very handsome. I know, because my author told me so.

Yes, I own an author. She wasn’t always an author, but when I came to live with her, her luck changed. Who says black cats are unlucky! She started selling lots of books. She has lots of author names: Lorna Barrett, Lorraine Bartlett, and L.L. Bartlett.

Why do people think black cats are unlucky? Okay, I do have some white fur, too, but I’m mostly a black cat. (Unless I lie on my back, and then my mapmaker—that’s the husband of my author—says I’m mostly white. Go figure!)

As an author-owner, I lead a pretty busy life. My day often starts at 3 or 4 in the morning. Sometimes I get restless and like to walk around the house talking to the cupboard. It holds lots of cans of cat food and kitty treats. I tell it to feed me, but it doesn’t listen well. So I walk around the house and talk to the furniture and the walls. Sometimes I talk (and scratch on) the bedroom closet door. For some reason when that happens, water comes squirting off of the mapmaker’s bedside table. Go figure!

I like to go back to bed about half an hour before everybody else gets up. Then I like to have a lie-in while my author and mapmaker play on their computers before breakfast.

I show up for breakfast every morning, but sometimes I don’t like what’s on the menu. I refuse to sit up and then I walk away. (But I sneak back when no one is looking. Hey, I gotta eat ya know.)

After breakfast, I like to jump on my author’s lap to take make sure she is correctly answering her email. Then I take a long nap on my mapmaker’s extra office chair. Sometimes I go sit under his 200 watt light bulb in my kitty bed. It’s too small for me, so sometimes I have to hang over the edges.

At lunchtime, I like to go see what my author is having. Sometimes she cuts up onions and celery and that means tuna will happen, and I get to drink the tuna water. I like that. (Doesn’t happen enough, though.)

After lunch, it’s nap time. I need to stay well rested because, like I said, I get up at 3 or 4 in the morning to talk to the walls and furniture. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it.

My favorite part of the day is Happy Hour. My author and mapmaker like to read (and my author often edits her work in progress at this time of day). Sometimes cheese happens. Yum! Chester (their other black cat) is good about telling them that WE NEED CAT TREATS NOW! Sometimes Betsy (one of the two sisters that live here—I like to chase or LOOK AT HER and make her SCREAM) leaves her treats. I’m fast. I clean up her leftovers.

During happy hour, I like to run around the house and pretend I’m a bullet train. (Only I can jump over chairs and knock over tables. It’s fun!) I have kitty OCD which makes my skin ripple and makes me run fast. The only thing that calms me down is my author petting me and telling me I’m a good and handsome boy. (I am!)

In the evening, I like to walk around the house and let everybody know that I’m in charge. (Chester doesn’t believe it.) I like to jump on the back of my author’s office chair and purr in her ear. She seems to like it.

If my author stays up too late, I have to remind her that it’s my bedtime. I start talking to the walls and furniture in her office until she says, “Alright already! Bedtime!” I sleep at the bottom of my author’s bed. I have an afghan my people-grandma made me and I have a little pillow, too. I like to rest my head on the pillow.

When I’m not doing all these things, I bring my author lots of luck to sell her books. That’s why she calls me her little prince (and her tiny son). She loves me a lot.

That’s my happy life. I hope your life is happy, too!

Lorraine Bartlett with Fred

Fred’s author is New York Times Bestselling author Lorna Barrett of the Booktown Mystery series. Sentenced To Death, #5 in the series, was relesed June 7th. Lorna also writes the Victoria Square Mysteries under the name Lorraine Bartlett and the Jeff Resnick Mysteries under the name L.L. Bartlett.

You may also enjoy reading:

An interview with Lorna Barrett

A mystery author and her cats

About the author

We are not (always) amused: Musetta on the challenges of living with mystery writer Clea Simon

Clea Simon's cat Musetta

Guest post by Musetta Simon

Do we have to do everything around here?

Staff was supposed to blog today. Something about those books she’s always letting into the house, those boxes that make such an unpleasant noise when she drops them on the floor. But staff is, as is her wont, a little overwhelmed and so yours truly is filling in.

Let me set the record straight. Staff is busy doing that which she calls “work,” which as far as we can tell is really just an excuse to sit in one place ignoring me in all my magnificence, until we are forced to pierce her self-involved little mindspace with a well-placed claw. It is true that sometimes when we do this, she yelps, which can be harsh to the ear. And that sometimes she responds by pulling us onto her lap. On principle, we object to this – so undignified – but if she rubs our chin just right, well, we will permit such indignities.

Perhaps it’s just as well, really, that we have been forced into such menial service. Ordinarily, we wouldn’t deign to explain ourselves to you, more incipient or present Staff to felines present, past, or future. Why should we? We are a cat. However, since we have taken control – or are, at least, dictating this to staff while we have her under the most stringent form of feline mind control – we shall set the record straight.

To start with, we are not a hapless kitten. Although we may have had some unfortunate misadventures in our earliest youth, we have never been as foolish as that kitten Esmé in Grey Zone. Truth be told, that whole episode with the fireplace, when Esmé stamped soot pawprints all over the apartment, including the Forbidden Places of the counter? That was my predecessor, the original for Mr. Grey. So there. And all that other stuff and nonsense: snoring. Sliding off the pillow as we slept? Not us, and if Staff says otherwise, we shall bite her.

Nor are we Wallis, the tabby who aids her Staff person, Pru, in the despicably named Dogs Don’t Lie. Wallis has the right attitude: condescension with just a soupcon of disdain. But she is a tabby. And really, aren’t tabbies common? One would think that for the occasion of a mystery novel, one would assume a more formal attire. Black and white, for example, which is always impeccably in style.

But let us dispense with such minor complaints. We understand that Staff is incapable of capturing us in our perfection. Like the poor humans in that old Greek’s book, she is only able to portray us as shadows of our greatness. Reflections of ourself. Pale purring imitations. We are beyond Staff’s ken.

For Staff is, of course, not the real creator of these books. Yes, we allow her to put her name on them, much as one would allow a child to stamp out the last cookie – or a kitten to scratch over her mess in the litterbox. We allow her to go forth and do signings or readings, or whatever excuse she uses to come home late and a little flushed. She is an adequate amanuensis, after all, and deserves to be let play.

Besides, we need our privacy as well. And when Staff is off doing such things as signings or gathering the cans that we require at regular intervals, we are replenishing our creativity. For we are the muse, the little muse – the Musetta. And there would be no books without us.

Musetta’s Staff is Clea Simon, 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.

For more about Clea Simon’s books, please read:

Book review: Dogs Don’t Lie

Book review: Grey Zone

Book review: The Theda Krakow Series

About the author

Book Review: Murder Past Due by Miranda James

Murder Past Due is the first in the new A Cat in the Stacks series by Miranda James.  Set in Athena, Mississippi, it features librarian Charlie Harris and a very unique rescued Maine Coon cat named Diesel who, among other things, walks on a leash.

When bestselling crime fiction author and former classmate of Charlie’s, Godfrey Priest, returns to Athena to promote his latest book and make a bequest to his school library, Charlie is less than thrilled.  He remembers Priest as being an arrogant, manipulative jerk, and he’s not the only one.  Priest’s homecoming causes quite a stir in the small Southern town:  by lunchtime, Priest has put a man in the hospital, and by dinnertime, he is dead.  Since it seems as though every last one of Charlie’s friends and coworkers was connected to the murder victim, Charlie gets involved in the investigation into Priest’s murder.

I was drawn to this book by the irresistible cover, and I wasn’t disappointed.  This was an entertaining, well-crafted mystery with a likeable hero and interesting secondary characters, but what really makes this book is Diesel.  I feel in love with the big cat from the beginning.  What’s not to love!  Diesel is friendly, loves attention, walks on a leash, and warbles and chirps rather than meows.  And best of all, Diesel is all cat. He doesn’t talk, he doesn’t help solve the murder, he’s just a thoroughly lovable feline who is central to the story.  I’m looking forward to the next in this series.

Miranda James is a pseudonym for author Dean James, who also writes under the names of Honor Hartman and Jimmie Ruth Evans.

About the author

Book Review: The Cat, the Professor and the Poison

In The Cat, the Professor and the Poison, the second book in Leann Sweeney’s Cats in Trouble series, we once again join Jillian Hart and her beloved three cats, Merlot, Chablis and Syrah.  Jillian, busy with her cat quilt making business, is settling into the small town of Grace, South Carolina, where she moved with her husband, looking forward to a long retirement.  Within a few months of moving there, John died from a sudden heart attack and Jillian found herself alone in a strange town.  But now, she has found a new best friend in Deputy Candace Carson, and once again, she gets involved in helping solve a murder.   It all begins with a missing milk cow from a friend’s farm, which leads to the discovery of fifty stray cats and a dead body – a victim of cold-blooded murder. 

As Jillian gets involved with helping to save the stray cats, even taking one calico mother and her kittens home with her, she also gets drawn ever deeper into the murder investigation.  And if that weren’t enough, in the middle of all of this, her husband’s daughter arrives for an unannounced, and apparently open-ended, visit.  A former journalist, she becomes intrigued with the mysteries hiding in the small town of Grace, and also begins to look into clues to the murder and possible suspects – and there are plenty of those.  Even the cats get in on the act!  From academic research to dysfuctional family dynamics to cat food, the investigation takes Jillian on a wild ride as she comes ever closer to helping solve the mystery.

This book will delight readers of amateur sleuth stories and cat lovers alike.  Interspersed with plenty of fascinating facts about cats, this book is a fun and entertaining read and is very hard to put down.    It’s the purrfect book for curling up with your favorite feline for an afternoon of suspense, cat trivia and small town charm.

The Cat, the Professor and the Poison will be released on May 4.

Leann Sweeney was born and raised in Niagara Falls and educated at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Lemoyne College in Syracuse, NY. She also has a degree from the University of Houston in behavioral science and worked for many years in psychiatry. Currently a school nurse, she began writing about fifteen years ago, fulfilling her lifelong dream. After perfecting her writing skills with classes and a small fortune in writing books, she joined MWA and Sisters in Crime. Her short fiction won many awards and several mysteries were published in small market mystery magazines. One novel and another mystery novella went straight to audio. Leann is married with two fabulous grown children, a wonderful son-in-law and a beautiful daughter-in-law. She has lived in Texas for almost thirty years and resides in Friendswood, Texas with husband Mike and her three cats.  You can learn more about Leann and her books at http://www.leannsweeney.com.

FTC full disclosure:  I received an ARC copy of this book from the author.

About the author