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, March 14, 2016

Book Review: A Whisker of Trouble

Our reading and reviewing adventures return us this week to North Harbor, Maine, and the engaging characters of Sofie Ryan’s Second Chance Cat mystery series. Those characters include one Elvis the black cat, who enjoys watching Jeopardy!, is a backseat driver no matter which seat he is in, and might—might, mind you—be able to tell when someone is lying. Naturally, Elvis is also adept at pointing out clues to the mysteries his witless humans get involved in.

The humans

Okay, “witless” is an unfair term. Elvis’s humans are actually pretty sharp—for humans. There’s his main person, Sarah Grayson, owner of a “part antique store and part thrift shop” called Second Chance. Sarah makes a fine amateur sleuth, not that she has any desire to get all mixed up in mysteries (at least that’s what she says). You’d think she’d want to get mixed up in something though, considering the surprisingly slow state of her love life (surprising because she has two eligible men right in front of her; surely she should be kissing one of them).

But Sarah has the great good fortune to be associated with a group of private investigators who call themselves Charlotte’s Angels. The Angels comprise three friends of Sarah’s grandmother, along with one bona fide PI who also happens to be the “gentleman friend” of one of the Angels.

The plot

In A Whisker of Trouble, Sarah and her Second Chance employees are preparing to clean out the home of the recently deceased Edison Hall. And when I say “clean,” I mean “sort through and dispose of the contents of the many, many boxes piled all about the house.” Unfortunately, when Sarah arrives at the house to begin work, she discovers the body of a murdered man in the kitchen.

It turns out that the dead man was a wine expert who’d recently declared Edison Hall’s wine collection to be worthless—cheap wine wearing fake labels. Had someone wanted the expert out of the way because he was about to shut down some scammers (the really creepy kind who prey on the elderly, swindling them out their savings)? Stella Hall, who’d hired Sarah to clean out her brother’s home, now hires the Angels to figure out who killed the wine expert, and the Angels swing into action, with Sarah as their reluctant chauffeur and Elvis as their furry clue-finder and lie detector.

A thoroughly enjoyable series!

We love the atmosphere of this book, and the series. Reading A Whisker of Trouble is not a roller-coaster experience (though there is a nice “don’t go in there!” moment toward the end). Instead, it’s like being welcomed into a gathering of extended family where you’ll be well fed and where you might get roped into joining some sort of (hopefully) harmless scheme. Whatever happens, you’ll know that the people around you have only your best interests at heart. And who wouldn’t want to meet Elvis, the Jeopardy!-watching cat?

We did wish that the fake-wine issue had been gone into in a little more detail; we sense an opportunity to add more depth to the story and add a creeping sense of evil intent on the part of the scammers. In the end, though, A Whisker of Trouble is not about anything dark; it’s about a big, somewhat crazy group who are a joy to read about.

An absolutely enjoyable reading experience. Recommended!

[A note on the "Paws Up" system: Miss C gives either one or two paws up. One paw is for a good read; two paws is for a great read. She never gives three or four paws because that would require her to lie on her back...and Miss C does not do that!]

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