My thanks to the author, Iris Leigh, Victory Editing and NetGalley for a review copy of this book.
With an entire page devoted to cats and books (or should that be cats in books), Keli Cat’s Book Corner, on my book blog, a cosy mystery with cats, and not ordinary cats, but talking ones, was not one I was going to pass up, so when I saw this on NetGalley, I had to request.
Tabby Trouble is the first in the Cat Aunt Cozy Mystery series, and introduces us to our main character Kat (no, she isn’t the, er, … cat). Kat, whose full name we don’t learn in the book, is browbeaten by her friend into taking in the latter’s three fur babies—Lola, Zaira, and Luna while she is away travelling. Kat who is used to dogs but not felines is apprehensive, and as she realises before long, quite inadept at dealing with cats. As soon as they come into her home, things start to smash and she finds she is in above her head, having sleepless nights almost similar to having a newborn in the house.
One morning she is awoken by the sounds of sirens and finds that her neighbour Rose Hastings has died—apparently of a heart-attack, but another neighbour, Mrs Higgins (the wife of a former policeman, and the head of the neighbourhood ‘gossip ring’ as Kat has named it) isn’t convinced and tells Kat this was murder. Kat returns home to find Mrs Hastings’ cat Rusty on her doorstep. She puts out some food, unsure how he’ll get on with her charges, but when she re-enters her home, something seems to hit her and she blacks out. On coming to she finds, of her three charges, Lola has vanished and Rusty has come in—but that isn’t all—now Rusty, Luna and Zaira are actually talking to her. Terrified that she has lost her friend’s cat and about how she will now face her, she tries to ask the three cats where Lola has gotten to. Rusty tells her that he will help her find Lola but only once she solves Mrs Hastings’ murder for murder it was.
With not much choice in the matter, and also half-believing that she has gone mad, Kat is determined to solve the mystery and restore the lost Lola before she is locked up! Snooping around at Mrs Hastings’ home (not particularly well since almost everyone notices), and then after having a chat with Mrs Higgins, Kat finds that there was something different at the brunch Mrs Hastings had hosted just before she died (Mrs Hastings hosted regular brunches and invited many of the neighbourhood, including the gossip ring). She finds out exactly who attended the party and decides to tackle each one by one and pin down the murderer. The domineering but reluctant-to-help Rusty does agree to help her out (the killer was apparently allergic to cats), but eventually Kat has to do much of the detecting herself.
This is a very short little cozy (just over an hour’s reading) which turned out to be a good deal of fun. I loved the whole plot idea since while one usually does find cats aplenty in cozies, but not very often do we find talking cats—and while this was the one fantasy element in an otherwise ‘normal’ mystery, it added a real fun touch. Watching the different cats’ attitudes and ‘hearing’ their different voices as they interact with Kat was pretty amusing.
As for the mystery itself, while nothing out of the ordinary, it was fairly enjoyable as well. We had a good set of suspects, though perhaps, one could have done with a few more suspicious occurrences or circumstances surrounding them since Kat seemed to be able to clear them off rather too easily; but with the length of it, may be that wasn’t such a bad thing. Still, there was a little twist at the end, even after Kat thinks she has things figured out, so there is a surprise there (though the reader might be able to guess much earlier).
The only thing I thought wanting in the book, considering that it was an introductory one in the series was more details about Kat herself. We don’t for instance learn her last name at any point; there is no indication of what she does for a living—in fact she seems to be able to get up and go investigating at any point in the day without any work mentioned (one character does ask her to house-sit, so perhaps she is a house-sitter?). We also learn nothing about her family and where they are though it is mentioned that Kat had a summer job in the neighbourhood flower shop when she was younger which is an indication that she has lived there fairly long.
But other than those little niggles, I though this book, though nothing exceptional, was a fun and quick read; great to while away an hour or so. I certainly am looking forward to following the series and hope the same cats continue on, and perhaps take a more active role in future investigations too!
For lists of books, reviews and links on books and cats, stop by my page Keli Cat’s Book Corner
Cover image: NetGalley