Miss Cuddlywumps reviews The Cat, the Vagabond, and the Victim
Jillian Hart of Mercy, South Carolina, is a habitual helper of cats. She is also a quilter who makes special quilts for cats. (We like the fictional Jillian a lot and wish she could be a real person so we could meet her and maybe she would make us a kitty quilt.) She has three cats of her own—Syrah, Merlot, and Chablis (an Abyssinian, Maine Coon, and Himalayan, respectively)—and readily agrees to foster a fourth cat who happens to be at the center of a media circus. In the opening scene of this latest installment in the Cats in Trouble series, Jillian’s home becomes the “undisclosed location” where this cat, a big orange tabby named Clyde, can be protected from the media spotlight.
He got into that spotlight by taking a 200-mile trip, all on his own, from Hilton Head to his person’s home in Mercy. Unfortunately Clyde’s person could not open the door upon his furry friend’s arrival, because Clyde’s person was dead. His body was only discovered after the cat disturbed the neighbors when he made so much noise trying to get in. (Clyde has a very loud meow.)
Now at first it doesn’t seem all that odd that Clyde’s old friend, Norm Jeffrey, has died. He did have cancer, after all, and Norm had apparently sent Clyde to live with his sister when he became too frail to care for the cat any longer. But when something irregular turns up with Norm’s heart medication, suspicions are raised and questions are asked. Clyde, the orange cat with the perpetual smile, is suddenly not just a remarkable cat in a simple tragedy, he’s a cat involved in a possible murder investigation.
Things heat up when a second death—this one murder beyond a doubt—occurs in Norm’s home. Soon Jillian finds herself trying to untangle the threads of a story of old family troubles, hidden relationships, and that old troublemaker, money. All this while also dodging an ambitious young reporter and preventing Clyde from escaping and getting himself into danger.
The Cat, the Vagabond, and the Victim is both a mystery and a story about families—the ones we’re born into, the ones we create with friends, partners and pets, and even the ones we don’t know about. It’s an enthralling story with a truly exciting climax that had us worried for both Jillian and Clyde. Each of Leann Sweeney’s characters is so well-drawn we feel like they could be our neighbors from down the street.
We especially enjoyed Jillian’s propensity for finding the best in everyone (sometimes easier said than done) and the unreserved care she has for all felines. The world needs more people like Jillian! It is she who makes the insightful comment “Maybe we should all be as watchful, playful and fierce as cats.” Indeed.
A book worth reading!