Miss C looks into the latest Nick & Nora mystery by T. C. LoTempio
We have been eagerly anticipating T. C. LoTempio’s next installment in the adventures of Nora Charles and Nick the tuxedo cat, and Claws for Alarm does not disappoint.
Nick is one of our favorite feline characters. First of all, he’s got that tuxedo thing going on, and who doesn’t love a guy in a tux? Then there’s that thing he does with Scrabble tiles, picking out the letters Nora needs to spell out a clue. So smart! He obviously benefited from the time he spent with his previous owner, private investigator Nick Atkins (whom I shall hereafter refer to as Atkins, to avoid confusion). Nick (the cat) is one cool, brainy feline.
In Claws for Alarm, Nick and Nora are called upon to solve the murder of a rather unpleasant artist, collector, and teacher named Thaddeus C. Pitt. Unable to create his own art anymore, Pitt collects rare paintings and sculptures and teaches in a way that is…well, let’s say he’s not really into constructive criticism. “Scathing” is a better word for his brand of instruction. Maybe that’s why he ends up with a knife through his heart.
Pitt’s murder would rather obviously be a matter for the police, and an arrest comes quickly. Hey, how hard is it to solve a case when you find someone standing over the body holding the murder weapon? Oh, and when that person earlier threatened to kill the victim in front of about thirty people? It doesn’t get more open and shut than that, at least for the prosecutor, who doesn’t waste time moving the case toward trial.
But of course there is a problem, and the problem is that the accused happens to be Nora’s sister, Lacey, who was one of Pitt’s students. This is where Nick and Nora come in, trying to prove Lacey’s innocence before her trial starts. Soon Nora (former reporter, now owner of a sandwich shop) is venturing undercover and into the murky world of art and money, where people won’t stick at murder if someone gets in their way.
LoTempio has created a plot that is nicely complex, as Nick and Nora have much more on their minds than Lacey’s case. They’re also wondering what actually happened to Atkins, who seemed to vanish off the face of the earth (is he dead, or just in hiding?). And then there’s the guy Atkins was investigating when he disappeared: Bronson A. Pichard. Nick keeps digging out bits of paper related to Pichard, but surely Nora should focus on one case at a time, shouldn’t she? And let’s not forget Daniel Corleone of the FBI, whom Nora has been “getting to know” on a sort of casual basis. And what’s up with Leroy Samms, the detective in charge of the case and a blast from the past for Nora? Just how well did they know each other?
And let’s not forget the sandwiches from Nora’s shop, Hot Bread. We recommend that you don’t read this book while you are hungry, especially if you are, say, lying in bed at night and feeling just a bit peckish, because the sandwich recipes might send you into the kitchen for a rather large snack. Not that this actually happened to us.
All in all, we thoroughly enjoyed this book’s twists and turns, we love Nick, and it’s hard not to love Nora and the way she gets herself into situations we’re not so sure she’s going to get out of. Plus, who doesn’t love a good tuna melt?
Also by T. C. LoTempio:
Meow if It's Murder