It is once again and already time to select our five favorite cat cozy mysteries of the year. There were lots of tough choices to be made, and it was hard to have to leave some very good reads off the list. In the end, we chose the books that entertained us the most, that made us want to go back and read them again (and still we had to leave some off!). Our favorites have a few common themes: realistic human characters, often with complex relationships or life situations; clever cats who are far more than token characters; a mystery that is fun to try to solve, rather than dark and gruesome; and often, a little magic.
So, in the order in which we originally reviewed them, here are our favorites:
A Midwinter’s Tail by Sofie Kelly, in which librarian Kathleen Paulson gets caught up in a mystery when a woman suddenly dies during a library fundraiser. And of course there are the two magical cats, Owen and Hercules, whose purrsonalities (sorry, I couldn’t resist) are entertaining in themselves.
Meow If It’s Murder by T. C. LoTempio, in which former crime reporter and current sandwich-shop owner Nora Charles teams up with a stocky tuxedo cat to solve a murder in Cruz, California. The cat, Nick, once belonged to a private investigator who has gone missing. We love Nick’s skill with Scrabble tiles, arranging them just so to help Nora spell out clues.
Hiss and Tell by Claire Donally, in which Sunny Coolidge and a gray tom named Shadow become embroiled in the strange goings-on in the lead-up to a high-profile society wedding. The mystery (of course there is a suspicious death) is top-notch, and the scene in which Shadow romps through a posh event while being chased by security is hilarious and worth the price of admission.
Paws and Effect by Leighann Dobbs, in which we see the magical cats of Mystic Notch, New Hampshire, work to protect a mysterious box that must not fall into the hands of those who would use it for evil. This series has ghosts, which we love, but certain ghosts can only be seen by certain people (or cats). We also enjoyed seeing the world through the eyes of Pandora the cat as she matures into her abilities.
Look Both Ways by Carol J. Perry, in which Maralee “Lee” Barrett buys a bureau with a link to a well-known murder and soon finds herself involved in a much more recent murder (and by “recent” I mean “Lee finds the body”). Lee is oh so slowly learning what to do with her gift (or curse) of “gazing,” or seeing visions in shiny objects like the mirror on that bureau. This series features a big yellow-striped cat named O’Ryan who may once have been a witch’s familiar—and boy, is it a good thing for Lee that O’Ryan hangs around!