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, November 13, 2017

Book Review: Familiar Motives

Mysterious Monday #cozy #mystery #cats

On this Mysterious Monday, we bring you our review of book 3 of Delia James’s Witch’s Cat mystery series, Familiar Motives. As the series title indicates, this book features plenty of witches and a couple of pretty terrific cats. It is the first book we have read in this series, but we had no trouble getting right into the story.

The plot

Familiar Motives, by Delia James
Annabelle Amelia Blessingsound Britton is an artist and a witch—well, an apprentice witch; she’s new to the craft. She is from an old New England family and lives in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. She also has a gift she calls her “Vibe,” with which she can sense emotional vibrations resulting from dramatic events—murder, for example. This gift comes in handy when a local veterinarian, Ramona Forsythe, meets an unfortunate end under mysterious circumstances. Ramona’s death is bad, obviously, but also bad is the disappearance of Ruby, a cat better known as Attitude Cat. Attitude Cat is the spokesfeline for a cat food line, and her disappearance has pet lovers in a tizzy as “Where is Attitude Cat?” becomes the question to be answered.

For Anna and the rest of her coven, though, there are two additional big questions: “Who killed Ramona?” and “Which witch was involved?”

See, Ramona was also a witch, and she was trusted with taking care of the “special” pets in town—such as Anna’s feline familiar (more on him later). She had “wards” on her home to protect it, and they were shattered by another witch ... a witch who might just have killed the vet and snatched the famous cat she was keeping at her home for a few days. Anna’s witchcraft mentor, Julia, is livid to know that a witch may have had something to do with Ramona’s death, and she announces to the coven that they will be searching for that witch—and doing whatever they have to do to get justice for Ramona.

There are plenty of non-witch suspects as well, as Ramona might have been disposed of simply to get her out of the way so Ruby could be stolen. Possible motives include greed and a possible conspiracy to cover up a big problem with that pet food company (in other words, greed again). Because there is a big chunk of money involved with Ruby.

The cats

The main cat in Familiar Motives is Anna’s familiar, Alistair. He’s a big gray cat who is able to disappear at will, a skill that is both useful to Anna and sometimes kind of a pain. (You know how sometimes you can’t find your cat and she’s just hiding under the bed? Well, imagine if she was able to vanish into thin air and go anywhere.)  Alistair is important to the plot and plays a major role, as Anna assigns him the task of finding Ruby. Ruby is a black-and-white cat who became sort of accidentally famous when her human took her to a photo shoot on a whim. Now she’s a Very Big Deal and is worth quite a lot of money. Obviously she is extremely important since she is the one who gets cat-napped, but we don’t actually see a lot of her since she is also, you know, missing for most of the book. We do like how she gives ladies’ man Alistair the brush-off early in the book!

Our verdict

Familiar Motives is truly a great cozy. We loved reading about how Anna’s magical abilities affect her life, and the descriptions of how she senses emotional energy were engrossing. The final confrontation had us turning pages like mad, but even before that we enjoyed the delicious tension between so many of the characters—and within characters as they deal with internal struggles. For example, should a cop who’s also a witch use magic to help solve a crime? (Answer: no.) Should Anna tell her family that she is a witch? (Answer: undetermined—or at least, I’m not going to tell you.) The mystery is well crafted, and we enjoyed meeting Alistair and seeing him play such a vital role in the plot. He is an excellent cat. He should really find himself one girlfriend and stick with her though, instead of falling for every female feline he meets!

We will have to find time to go back and read this series from the start. Recommended!

Two Paws Up--A Great Read!

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!

The link below is an Amazon Associates link. If you purchase the book through this link, old SoLT and I could get some coin for our kibble account. Thank you!


  1. We love this series! I think this is the best book of the 3 so far. Alistair is such a fun feline character :)

  2. This sounds like a fun book! I love that it takes place in my state and in a town I'm familiar with. That always makes things more interesting for me.