Title: Escape Claws
Series: A Cat Lady Mystery #1
Author: Linda Reilly
Publisher: Lyrical Underground/Kensington
Publication Date: December 26, 2017
Genres: Mystery, Cozy
From the publisher—
Here, killer, killer, killer . . .
For the first time in sixteen years, Lara Caphart has returned to her hometown of Whisker Jog, New Hampshire. She wants to reconnect with her estranged Aunt Fran, who’s having some difficulty looking after herself—and her eleven cats. Taking care of a clowder of kitties is easy, but keeping Fran from being harassed by local bully Theo Barnes is hard. The wealthy builder has his sights set on Fran’s property, and is determined to make her an offer she doesn’t dare refuse.
Then Lara spots a blue-eyed ragdoll cat that she swears is the reincarnation of her beloved Blue, her childhood pet. Pursuing the feline to the edge of Fran’s yard, she stumbles upon the body of Theo Barnes, clearly a victim of foul play. To get her and Fran off the suspect list, Lara finds herself following the cat’s clues in search of a killer. Is Blue’s ghost really trying to help her solve a murder, or has Lara inhaled too much catnip?
When Lara goes back to Whisker Jog (don’t you just love that name?) for a short visit, it’s mainly because an old friend has let her know that her aunt needs help and Lara decides it’s time to get past all the years they’ve been out of each other’s lives. Soon after arriving in town, Lara learns that, besides Fran’s physical troubles, she’s also being bullied by a land developer who wants her property.
As it turns out, the bully is murdered and there are legitimate reasons for both Fran and Lara to be prime suspects. Since Lara really doesn’t know who can be trusted, it’s natural that she’d set out to do her own sleuthing, with a little help from Blue, a cat only she can see. This is no easy investigation with its multitudes of possible killers and plenty of red herrings.
A nice touch is the cast of characters…feline characters, that is, and it’s needed because there are so many of them and, as you might anticipate, they demand attention. The pacing of the story is a bit slow but, since character development is so important in a cozy, I kind of expect an author to focus on that in the first book. I liked Lara and Fran but I did wonder at first why Lara would ignore her “beloved” aunt for so long yet stay in touch with an elementary school friend. Ms. Reilly settled my misgivings about that as the tale progressed and, at the end, I was ready for more adventures with these people and cats, not to mention the charming town of Whisker Jog.
Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, January 2018.
Over the low clamor sifting through the coffee shop, a
feminine voice suddenly rang out from the doorway.
“Cheer up, everyone—don’t look so glum. Theo Barnes is dead!”
About the Author
Armed with a degree in Criminal Justice, Linda Reilly once contemplated a career in law enforcement. But life took a twist, and instead she found her niche in real estate closings and title examinations, where the dusty tomes in the Registry of Deeds enticed her into solving mysteries of a different sort. A dyed-in-the-wool New Englander, Linda lives in New Hampshire with her husband, who affectionately calls her “Nose-in-a-Book.” A member of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America, she loves solving mysteries of the cozy type. When she’s not pounding away at her keyboard, she can usually be found prowling the shelves of a local bookstore or library.
A thread of unease wound through Lara. She wasn’t sure why, but
she couldn’t help thinking that the driver of the black car had been
watching her before he took off. Unfortunately, through the car’s
tinted windows, Lara hadn’t been able to get a glimpse of his face.
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