In Faux Paw, the latest installment in her Magical Cats Mystery series, Sofie Kelly brings us back to Mayville Heights, Minnesota, and to Kathleen Paulson, the town’s head librarian.
As the story opens, Kathleen has her hands full with preparations for an art exhibit to be held at the library. An art exhibit means there must be a curator, and in this case the curator is one Margo Walsh, who is the kind of person who will make sure the exhibit is absolutely perfect, but boy is she annoying when she’s in the process of nailing down all the details. Margo thinks the artwork should be kept safe in a museum, not in a library, which is not normally equipped to handle such things. Let’s just say a lot of security has been added, and a lot of people are on edge.
And then there is The Drawing, a famous and very valuable drawing of a Native American encampment. (It’s called the Weston drawing in the book, but we think of it as The Drawing; it does have a certain presence in the story.). Margo is particularly insistent on the conditions and security around The Drawing, which really, really, really should be in a more protected place.
Trouble starts when Kathleen notices a light on in her library office one night when no one should be there. She goes to investigate, only to find the alarms turned off and Margo Walsh dead on the office floor. In short order it is discovered that The Drawing is gone.
And so begins the investigation, which must answer the questions of where The Drawing is, how some ne’er-do-well got into the library (for surely Margo would not have left the building and the artwork unsecured), and who that ne’er-do-well is. Could that person be a rather well-known cat burglar? There is even some question about who actually created The Drawing and whether it could be even more valuable than thought.
All this, and I have not even mentioned what is always the most important part of any book: the cats.
Kathleen’s cats, Owen and Hercules, are of course an important part of the main plot, and they even have their own side story. We don’t see much magic from them this time, but just knowing that, at any time, Owen could become invisible or Hercules could walk through a wall brings its own feeling of delicious, low-level tension.
And what would a Magical Cats book be without Fred the Funky Chicken, and of course a cat grooving to Barry Manilow? Kathleen even has one other mystery to solve: Why on earth does Hercules keep decapitating Owen’s beloved catnip chickens?
Faux Paw is everything you could want in a cat cozy. It has entertaining and extraordinary feline characters, three-dimensional human characters, and a plot that is both intriguing and confounding. The side stories with Kathleen’s cats and her friends add a pleasing amount of depth to her life, so that reading Faux Paw feels like stepping into Mayville Heights in person and tagging along with the characters (and boy, would we like to go to Eric’s for some coffee and pudding cake!). In other words, it is a delight.