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, May 18, 2015

“Buy a Whisker” Book Review: Elvis the Cat and Murder in Maine

Miss Cuddlywumps reviews the latest Second Chance Cat mystery By Sofie Ryan

We are delighted to have spent a few evenings (via our e-reader) up in North Harbor, Maine. It’s a place where the pace of life is slow, the buildings are mostly historic, and the businesses are mostly “quirky.” Too bad about that murder thing though.

Here’s what happens:

A new harborfront development project is in the works, and it is a big deal for North Harbor. A lot of people have a lot riding on it, but one woman, a bakery owner named Lily, is holding everything up by refusing to sell her property. Her obstinacy is a bit of a mystery, and Lily has been getting some harassment over her stick-in-the-mudness: her front windows have been egged, someone switched her salt with her sugar…you get the idea.

None of that is very neighborly, but things take a dark turn when Lily is discovered dead at the bottom of her bakery stairs: Accident, or murder?

Well, of course it’s murder, because nobody writes mysteries about deaths that turn out to be accidents. (Do they?) This is where Sarah Grayson and her cat, Elvis, get involved. Sarah owns one of those “quirky businesses,” a secondhand and antique store called Second Chance where Elvis likes to hang out, charming the customers. Elvis also enjoys watching Jeopardy!, though Sarah isn’t sure why. More importantly, Elvis can tell when people are lying.

Also involved is a group of ladies of a certain age—Rose, Liz, and Charlotte—who’ve taken up investigation and opened an agency called Charlotte’s Angels, Discreet Investigations. You can call them “the Angels” for short. Their biggest case so far? They found someone’s missing teeth.

The Angels—and Sarah and Elvis—have quite the cast of suspects to sort through. There’s the owner of the development company, who stands to lose a lot if that harborfront project doesn’t go forward. There’s Daniel Swift, whose son died years before under suspicious circumstances and who is thought to hold a grudge against Lily because he thinks she knew more about that death than she let on. There’s grainy security-camera footage showing a suspicious character slipping out the bakery’s back door: the killer, the prankster, or none of the above?

Buy a Whisker is a delight to read, with a cast of characters we loved getting to know and all sorts of quirky details that make North Harbor its own place (oh, how we’d love to go browse through Second Chance). The story is nicely plotted and is told with a touch of humor (we especially enjoyed the part where Liz threatens Daniel Swift; you really shouldn’t mess with mature ladies). We wished Elvis had played a more central role in finally solving the case, but his lie-detecting abilities did come in handy, so that is a minor complaint. And then, just when we thought some threads were going to be left hanging at the end, there is a little twist that explains everything. A-ha!

Easily, our favorite part of Buy a Whisker was the discreet agency known as Charlotte’s Angels. More mature ladies should conduct investigations. As one of the Angels says, “Nobody notices an old woman. We’re about as close to invisible as it gets.” But criminals in North Harbor had better just watch out for these old ladies. And for Elvis the charming lie detector.

Highly recommended!

Also by Sofie Ryan

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