cozy mystery

Review and giveaway: Cats Can’t Shoot by Clea Simon

Cats_Can't_Shoot_Clea_Simon_cover

For a book lover like me, it’s like my birthday and Christmas combined when one of my favorite authors has not just one, but two new releases coming out at the same time. I reviewed Clea Simon’s Grey Expectations, which came out on April 1, last week.

Cats Can’t Shoot, the second in Simon’s Pet Noir series featuring pet behaviorist (and psychic) Pru Marlowe, was just released on Tuesday. I received advance copies of both books from the author, and it was hard to decide which one to read first. I also knew from previous experience of reading Simon’s cat themed mysteries that it’s not wise to start reading unless I know I have some uninterrupted time, because they’re all impossible to put down.

Cats Can’t Shoot opens, quite literally, with a bang. Pru gets a call that there’s been a cat shooting, which infuriates her. As an animal behaviorist and psychic, she cannot stand the thought of animal cruelty, and she is determined to help the traumatized cat. Continue Reading

Book review: Death Drops by Chrystle Fiedler

Death Drops by Chrystle Fiedler

I was immediately intrigued when I first heard about Death Drops: A Natural Remedies Mystery by Chrystle Fiedler. If the two cats on the cover hadn’t caught my eye, the subtitle surely would have. A mystery featuring a naturopathic doctor, flower essences, and a dog and two cats, penned by a writer specializing in alternative health topics? I knew this one had to be right up my alley.

Death Drops’ protagonist Dr. Willow McQuade gives up her practice in Los Angeles to run her beloved Aunt Claire’s Nature’s Way Market and Cafe on Long Island after her aunt is found murdered. Next to her aunt’s body lies a bottle of flower essences intended to provide stress relief. Did they contain the poison that killed her aunt? The police’s investigation focuses on Willow, who had motive since she inherited her aunt’s business and the rights to an anti-aging cream formula that her aunt had been working on. Continue Reading

Book review: File M for Murder by Miranda James

file-m-for-murder-miranda-james

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 mysteryContinue Reading

Book review: Grace Interrupted by Julie Hyzy

Grace Interrupted Julie Hyzy

I first came to know Julie Hyzy through her White House Chef Mystery Series featuring the immensely likeable Olivia (Ollie) Paras. I thoroughly enjoyed all four books in the series, but there’s not a single cat in any of them. Neither was there a cat in Grace Under Pressure, the first in Hyzy’s Manor House Mystery Series, although that, too, was a delightful read. When I saw the cover of Grace Interrupted, the second in the series, I was thrilled to see the adorable little kitten on the cover.

If I hadn’t alrady liked Julie Hyzy, I would have become a fan for sure after reading the dedication for Grace Interrupted: “For anyone who has ever opened heart and home to a stray.” It turns out that Bootsie, as the kitten is named in the book, is modeled after Julie’s newest family member.

The book’s cover is actually one of the most descriptive covers I’ve seen in a while, as it covers all elements of the story: the kitten, the elegant manor setting, and Civil War re-enactments.

From the publisher:

Civil war re-enactors have set up camp on the grounds of Marshfield Manor. The group is very believable, especially when the unrest spills out of the barracks and inside the sumptuous mansion. Grace manages to settle a minor squabble, but loses the war when actor Zachary Kincade is found stabbed to death.

Jack Embers, the groundskeeper, falls under suspicion when he’s linked to the death of Zachary’s brother years ago. But there were others out for Zachary, actors who can be very convincing when the coveted role of “General” is on the line. Grace feels responsible for finding the murderer…and for the sweet tuxedo kitten found on her doorstep, Bootsie. Can she come to the rescue of her friends without putting herself in danger’s way?

This is an all-around wonderful cozy mystery, filled with likeable, well-developed characters. The setting is fascinating. I’m not a Civil War buff, but I enjoyed learning about what motivates re-enactors. And of course, there’s Bootsie, the tuxedo kitten that Grace takes in on a rainy night, fully intending to find it’s rightful owner, which added to my enjoyment of this book.

Treat yourself to this well-plotted, entertaining and thorougly engrossing mystery – you won’t be disappointed.

Julie Hyzy cat on wood floorJulie Hyzy is the national bestselling author of the White House Chef Mysteries and the Manor House Mysteries. She won the Barry and Anthony Awards for Best Paperback Original for State of the Onion in 2009, and several other awards for her novels and short stories. Her first Manor House Mystery, Grace Under Pressure, earned a Starred Review from Publishers Weekly. Julie loves to read, eat out, and watch old movies and TV shows with her husband and three daughters. They live near Chicago with two rambunctious cats, Kitka and Violet. For more information about Julie, please visit her website. Kitka, of course, was the inspiration for Bootsie. And isn’t she a cutie?  

I purchased this book.

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Book review: The Cat, the Lady and the Liar by Leann Sweeney

Reading The Cat, the Lady and the Liar, the third in Leann Sweeney’s Cats in Trouble series, was like visiting with old friends. I came to know and like cat quilter Jillian Hart, who settled in the small town of Grace, South Carolina, in The Cat, the Quilt and the Corpse and in The Cat, the Professor and the Poison. Jillian’s best friend, Deputy Candace Carson, step daughter Kara, and new boyfriend Tom round out the cast of human characters, and they’re joined by Jillian’s three cats Merlot, Chablis and Syrah.

When Jillian tries to track down the owner of a gorgeous black stray cat who was found by the local animal shelter, she turns out to be none other than Ritaestelle Longworth, the fabulously wealthy owner of a large estate in a neighboring town. Something seems amiss with Rita. Her live-in relatives claim that she’s been stealing from local stores. Rita herself fears that she’s been drugged.

When Ritaestelle shows up at Jillian’s home one night, and a body is found in the lake on Jillian’s property that same night, Ritaestelle becomes a suspect in the murder. Jillian’s instincts tell her that Ritaestelle is innocent, and, with the help of her three cats, she sets out to solve the mystery. As Jillian and her boyfriend Tom, a former cop and PI,  begin investigating, they uncover a tangled web of old family feuds. The cats, in their own way, provide clues along the way.

Tightly plotted, with likeable characters, and filled with cat trivia, this entertaining mystery will become a favorite for cozy and cat lovers alike. I’m already looking forward to the next book in the series.

The Cat, the Lady and the Liar book trailer:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mY3pFCGyL98

Leann Sweeney, a former nurse, has been writing full time since 1980. She lives in Texas with her husband, her three cats Agatha Christie, Archie Goodwin and Indigo, and Rosie, her labradoodle. You can find out more about her and her books on her website.

The author sent me an ARC copy of this book.

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Book review: The Cat, the Professor and the Poison

Book Review: Chapter and Hearse by Lorna Barrett

Even if I wasn’t already a fan of Lorna Barrett’s Booktown Mystery series, I would have picked this book up just based on the cover design.  I think it’s one of the prettiest covers I’ve seen in a while and it contains everything I love:   a cat, books, coffee, and a bright, cozy spot by a window to sit and enjoy all of them.  Can’t you just picture yourself there?   

In Chapter and Hearse, the fourth book in the series, we return to Stoneham, New Hampshire, a small town where not much remains a secret.  We find Tricia Miles, the owner of the Haven’t Got a Clue mystery book store, at the Cookery, Stoneham’s cookbook store owned by Tricia sister Angelica, who views herself as the next celebrity chef and is hosting a launch party for her newly released first book, Easy-Does-It Cooking.   The event appears to be jinxed – not only is it lacking in guests, but a nearby gas explosion injures Angelica’s boyfriend Bob Kelly, the head of the Stoneham Chamber of Commerce, and kills the owner of the town’s history bookstore. 

Tricia suspects foul play when she finds Bob being tight-lipped about the incident, and she gets drawn into investigating the murder.  As the list of suspects grows to include the victim’s mother and Angelica’s employees at her restaurant Booked for Lunch,  Tricia still seems no closer to identifying the murderer.  Then a series of strange occurrences on Angelica’s book tour have Tricia increasingly worried about her sister’s safety and raise the stakes in finding the murderer before he or she can strike again.  Filled with surprising plot twists and turns and well-developed secondary characters, including Tricia’s lovely cat Miss Marple, the story builds to a surprising ending.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book and found it very hard to put down. 

As a bonus, the book includes Angelica’s recipes for Hacienda Tacos, Coconut Cake, Blueberry Muffins, Cinnamon Coffee Cake and Lemon Bars. 

Chapter and Hearse was released on August 3.  The first book, Murder Is Binding, was published in April 2008. The second book, Bookmarked for Death, was a February 2009 release, and the third, Bookplate Special, was released last October.  If you love books, cats and food, you will love this series! 

You can learn more about Lorna Barrett by visiting her website.  You can also find her at her delightful blog Dazed and Confused.

Look for an interview with Lorna Barrett here on The Conscious Cat next week.  Lorna will talk to us about writing, her cats, and more!

I received an ARC of this book from the author.