A note about The Cuddlywumps Chronicles

This blog is written and maintained by Miss Cuddlywumps, a fluffy-tailed calico cat who is both classically educated and familiar with mysteries. She receives creative input from the Real Cats and clerical assistance from She of Little Talent (old SoLT, a.k.a. Roby Sweet). Comments or complaints should be addressed to Miss C rather than to old SoLt (Ms. Sweet). Ms. Sweet accepts no responsibility for Miss C's opinions.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Cats Caught Up in a Tornado of Mystery

Miss Cuddlywumps reviews The Cats That Chased the Storm by Karen Anne Golden

An old pink mansion, a tornado that reveals a mystery, a fatal accident that might not have been so accidental, and an heiress living with four cats … these are the main ingredients in Karen Anne Golden’s latest fast-paced mystery, The Cats That Chased the Storm.

Katherine, or “Katz,” is living in Erie, Indiana, in the pink mansion left to her by her great-aunt Orvenia. Living with her are her three Siamese—Scout, Iris, and Lilac—and Orvenia’s Abyssinian, Abby. All Katz has to do is live in the mansion and take care of Abby, and she will inherit a fortune. Sounds easy, but odd things keep happening.

Abby is “accidentally” poisoned when she chews on an unattractive floral arrangement that is supposedly not dangerous. Then the woman who had delivered the arrangement is seriously injured in a suspicious car accident. That very night, a tornado strikes the mansion, causing extensive damage but also revealing a mystery in the basement, in the form of a human skull.

Katz and the cats find themselves needing to improvise a new place to live while also piecing together the story of this skull, the skeleton it belongs to, and the secret, walled-off tunnel it was in. Could it belong to Katz’s long-lost great-uncle, who may or may not have been a Prohibition-era bootlegger? Does it have anything to do with John Dillinger and a famous bank robbery? And did Orvenia brick that tunnel off deliberately to hide a decomposing body?

The story kept us guessing from beginning to end, but the cats and their antics were our favorite part of this book. We especially enjoyed Scout, the talented Siamese who is adept at locating important clues (such as a skeleton in the basement). In particular, I admired Scout’s shrieking Halloween dance that alerts Katz to the presence of something ghoulish. The fang marks left in important documents were also a nice touch.

Though we enjoyed the book overall, a couple of things did bother us. The dialogue often did not ring true and did not feel natural. We rarely had the feeling that we were listening in on a real conversation. Also, we wished there had been more meat on the bones of this story—more “telling details” of the sort that make characters and their actions come alive for readers.

Nevertheless, The Cats That Chased the Storm is a fast read with an intriguing mystery at its core. All in all, 

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