murder mystery

Review: Into the Grey: A Dulcie Schwartz Feline Mystery

Into-the-Grey-Clea-Simon

I have been a fan of Clea Simon’s Dulcie Schwartz mystery series, featuring the Harvard graduate student, from the very first installment, and with every book, the series just keeps getting better and better. In Into the Grey, the 10th book in the series, Dulcie is the prime suspect in the murder of a professor who had been questioning her scholarship.

Readers of previous volumes know that Dulcie can’t resist becoming involved in murder investigations, and this time, the stakes are even higher:Continue Reading

No Respect: A Kitten Complains

tuxedo_kitten

Guest post by Clea Simon

I am not a kitten! I am a fully grown cat. For seven books now, seven entire outings by my primary person Dulcie Schwartz, I have been proving my value as a functional feline, and yet I still do not receive the respect I deserve.

Excuse me for starting off this way, but some things just make my fur stand on end. One of them, as you may have gathered, is when people – my people – do not take me seriously as an adult feline. Not to mention royal.

For those of you who don’t know me, I am both. To you, I may appear a rather, shall we say, roly-poly black and white tuxedo catContinue Reading

The Cat Lecturer

Musetta Clea Simon

Guest post by Clea Simon

When I thought about what to blog about for The Conscious Cat this time, I thought I’d talk  about writing. You know, a very specific kind of “this is what I do, and this is how I do it” blog. And I meant to – I really meant to – only as I started to draft some kind of introduction –I got yelled at by my cat.

I’m not sure what I did exactly. It wasn’t food related, of that I’m sure. People who don’t live with cats – maybe people who don’t live with any animals at all – tend to think that all they care about, all they need from us, is food. Well, food and treats, and while that’s a large part of our role in their world, it isn’t the entirety.  Because when Musetta – tuxedo cat who rules my roost – started in on me, her dish was full. No, I think it was that I’d gone out while she was napping.

You see, for all my talk about process, I’m having trouble starting my next book – the seventh in the Dulcie Schwartz series – and when I am at this stage of things, I tend to wander. Continue Reading

Review and giveaway: True Grey by Clea Simon

True_Grey

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,Continue Reading

Review: Lost and Found by Amy Shojai

Lost_and_Found_Amy_Shojai

Don’t worry, my book reviews have not gone to the dogs. The front cover of Amy Shojai’s debut thriller Lost and Found is a bit misleading, which is why I’m showing the back cover as well. While Shadow, the dog featured on the cover, plays a central role in the book, Macy the Maine Coon makes important contributions to solving the mystery, even if she was relegated to the back cover.

Amy Shojai is a certified pet behaviorist and award-winning author of more than 24 non-fiction pet books. I was intensely curious about her first foray into fiction.

From the publisher:

Animal behaviorist September Day has lost everything—husband murdered, career in ruins, confidence shot—and flees to Texas to recover. She’s forced out of hibernation when her nephew Steven and his autism service dog Shadow disappear in a freak blizzard. When her sister trusts a maverick researcher’s promiseContinue Reading

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

Book review: Murder on the Half Shelf by Lorna Barrett

Murder_on_the_Half_ shelf_cover

Murder on the Half Shelf is the sixth in Lorna Barrett’s bestselling Booktown mystery series featuring Tricia Miles, the owner of the Haven’t Got a Clue mystery book store and her cat, Miss Marple.

The small town of Stoneham, New Hampshire may have its share of bookstores, but had been sadly lacking in Bed & Breakfasts. This is about to change when the Sheer Comfort Inn is ready to open its door. But first, they offer a free trial night to some local residents, including Tricia. What should have been a relaxing night quickly turns into a nightmare when Tricia discovers the murdered body of the inn’s owner.

The plot thickens when it turns out 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: 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: Curiosity Thrilled the Cat by Sofie Kelly

Curiosity Thrilled the Cat by Sofie Kelly

Curiosity Thrilled the Cat is the first in the brand new Magical Cats Mysteries series. Even if I didn’t already love cat-themed mysteries, the cover would have drawn me in for sure: cats and books, my two favorite things!

 From the publisher:

When librarian Kathleen Paulson moved to Mayville Heights, Minnesota, she had no idea that two strays would nuzzle their way into her life. Owen is a tabby with a catnip addiction and Hercules is a stocky tuxedo cat who shares Kathleen’s fondness for Barry Manilow. But beyond all the fur and purrs, there’s something more to these felines.

When murder interrupts Mayville’s Wild Rose Music Festival, Kathleen finds herself the prime suspect. More stunning is her realization that Owen and Hercules are magical-and she’s relying on their skills to solve a purr-fect murder.

I loved everything about this book. The character of Kathleen, a determined amateur sleuth whose boyfriend in Boston went on vacation and returned home married, which prompted her move to Minnesota, is extremely likeable. The small Minnesota town she moves to is home to a cast of enjoyable secondary characters ranging from interesting to slightly bizarre. But it’s the cats who steal the show in this mystery. Owen is addicted to his Fred the Funky Chicken catnip toys, and Hercules is a fan of Barry Manilow’s music, which is definitely one of the more unique character traits I’ve seen in a cat!

I prefer if cats don’t talk in cat-themed mysteries, and these two don’t, but they do help solve the mystery, and at times, overshadow the human characters. I had no problem with that! But what really endeared me to Owen and Hercules is the fact that they seem to have magical powers: they can appear and disappear at will. Okay, so far, nothing that your average pet cat can’t do, right? But Owen and Hercules appear to be able to walk through walls and other solid surfaces.

The murder mystery gets solved, with a lot of help from the cats, but the magical properties of the two cats are left up in the air. Some readers may be bothered by this, but I actually liked it – it makes me look forward to the next book in the series even more.

Curiosity Thrilled the Cat is a whimsical, funny, magical read for cat and mystery lovers.

Sofie Kelly is the pseudonym of young adult writer and mixed-media artist, Darlene Ryan. Sofie/Darlene lives on the east coast with her husband and daughter. In her spare time she practices Wu style tai chi and likes to prowl around thrift stores. And she admits to having a small crush on Matt Lauer. You can learn more about her on her website.