Miss Cuddlywumps reviews the novel Ghostly Paws by Leighann Dobbs
Ghostly Paws is a fun tale set in a New Hampshire town called Mystic Notch. We meet Wilhelmina “Willa” Chance as she discovers something unusual at the town’s library early one morning. Of course she only notices the unusual thing after her gray cat, Pandora, points it out to her (because as we all know, humans are not half as smart and perceptive as cats). What Willa and Pandora find in the library is a body lying at the foot of the stairs. Accident or foul play? Willa, who happens to be a former crime journalist and whose sister happens to be the sheriff, begins investigating.
The first thing you need to know about Mystic Notch is that it is strange, but mostly in a nice way. It is actually the kind of town She of Little Talent and I would like to live in. There is the library, of course, a haunted bookshop (inherited by Willa from her grandmother), a tea shop (owned by Willa’s friend Pepper, whose tea concoctions often have unintended effects), a coffee shop, and, most importantly for our purposes, quite a lot of cats.
The cats of Mystic Notch are not your ordinary felines. They are “an elite species of cats sworn to help humans since ancient times.” There are other cats, too: the “wild ones,” feral cats who serve no humans and know much about many things. All of these cats are instrumental in pointing Willa toward the clues that will solve the mystery, and in saving Willa in the end. I especially enjoyed Pandora’s clue-giving method of repeatedly pulling a particular book off the shelf until Willa (finally) gets the point.
Willa has some other help as well, in the form of the victim’s ghost, who says she was in fact pushed down those stairs by someone wearing a cape and a large ring. Seems like not much to go on, but Willa perseveres, even after being warned over and over that things might get dangerous. Old SoLT and I liked Willa a lot.
We also enjoyed the town’s mysterious milieu. This place is not named “Mystic Notch” for nothing. Everything is pervaded by a sense of magic, which Willa herself seems out of touch with (this despite the fact that her bookshop is home to the ghosts of Robert Frost and President Franklin Pierce and sometimes she swears her cat is talking to her). Perhaps she has just spent too much time “down south” (i.e., in Massachusetts).
Ghostly Paws is an entertaining read with a nice twist at the end. The characters fit right in with the magical-mysterious feeling, and the plot kept us guessing right up until the killer’s identity was revealed. There are some typos in the book that old SoLT found a bit distracting (the occupational hazard of being an editor is that old SoLT mentally edits everything; it is extremely annoying). Overall, though, we enjoyed the book very much and so I am giving it…
Visit Leighann Dobbs’ page on Amazon to find Ghostly Paws and her other cozy mysteries, which promise to be just as much fun!