Miss Cuddlywumps reviews Fat Cat at Large, the first Fat Cat Mystery by Janet Cantrell
There’s trouble in Dinkytown, and Chase Oliver and her butterscotch tabby named Quincy are right in the middle of it. Dinkytown, a neighborhood in Minneapolis, doesn’t seem a likely setting for murder, but anything can happen when you combine money, greed, and deceit.
First some preliminaries. Charity “Chase” Oliver is the co-owner of a dessert bar shop called the Bar None. She has a business partner named Anna, two young employees who don’t get along, and of course Quincy, the cat whose hobbies include eating things he isn’t supposed to and escaping from the shop (and sometimes escaping to eat things he isn’t supposed to). Then there is one Gabe Naughtly, who keeps siccing the health inspector on the Bar None in an attempt to force Chase and Anna out so he can have that space for himself.
Things heat up when Quincy, who is supposed to be on a weight-loss plan and can have treats only once a day (can you imagine?), escapes and follows the alluring scent of meatloaf straight to a murder scene. Chase then follows and finds her cat—and the body of the same Gabe Naughtly with whom Chase has recently exchanged heated words. She also finds herself a suspect in a murder investigation.
Chase soon doesn’t know what to believe about anything or anyone. She doesn’t know where she stands with her new boyfriend (if that’s what he is), with her business partner, with the old “friend” from Chicago who suddenly shows up in town and hovers, menacingly, around the edges of Chase’s life. The only thing Chase seems to know for sure is that she herself is innocent—innocent of the crime(s) she may or may not be suspected of, innocent of overfeeding her cat, innocent of stealing cash from her business.
But then, who is guilty?
Fat Cat at Large is about suspicion, friendship, and deciding who you can trust. (It is also about how to lose weight if you happen to be a cat who spends a lot of time in a dessert shop. Hint: don’t eat the merchandise.) The story is well-crafted, with just enough complexity to keep readers guessing. The cast of characters is diverse and believable. Chase in particular feels like the sort of friend you can count on to share a cup of coffee, a little dessert, and some good conversation. We like that she has a past with some unfortunate, shady bits in it; this gives her character a satisfying richness that makes us want to read more and get to know her better. We also like the way Quincy, just by being himself, inadvertently leads Chase to both trouble and clues. What a cat! And the setting in a dessert bar shop is delicious. Recipes for Hula Bars and Kitty Patties are a nice bonus.
We very much look forward to Cantrell’s next installment in this series!