Charlie Harris is a librarian and an intelligent amateur sleuth. But author Miranda James is even smarter. James knows the real reason readers love the Cat in the Stacks mysteries is because we love Diesel, the Maine Coon cat in the books. In the latest book, File M for Murder, Diesel has a much larger role, and fans will be happy.
The appearance of Charlie’s daughter, Laura, in Athena, Mississippi, was a joyful surprise. She and her brother, Sean, had kept it a secret that she was coming to teach drama for a semester at Athena College. Charlie couldn’t have been happier, until he learned it was an old boyfriend, playwright Connor Lawton who pulled strings to get her the job. The few times Charlie and Diesel met the man, they had been repelled by his rudeness and unpleasant nature.
When Sean brought a defaced photo of Laura to Charlie’s attention, he was outraged, but she laughed it off, saying it was a jealous actress who hung on to Connor. But, Connor’s behavior toward Laura wasn’t a laughing matter. And, none of the family had reasons to laugh when Connor was found dead, and Laura was the one who found him. Naturally, a former girlfriend would be on the top of the suspect list.
Laura’s hiding something, but Charlie, Sean, and Diesel team up again to protect her. It’s going to take Charlie’s research skills, and Laura’s knowledge of the victim, to uncover the truth.
File M for Murder is only the third book in this delightful series, but Charlie Harris and Diesel continue to grow and become even more attractive as characters and sleuths. Diesel’s personality has blossomed. He chirps and warbles, demands treats, hides his treasures. He remains a cat, one who understands emotions, feelings, and knows when something is wrong. He’s an essential part of Charlie’s life, and a vital element in the charm of these books.
In the first book, Charlie was a lonely figure, a widower, not close to either of his children. By the third book, he’s a father, a landlord, and a cat owner, filled with joy, surrounded by family and friends. And, he’s an intelligent amateur sleuth, who does his research, and realizes he’s getting too involved in cases. “I decided it was the librarian in me, the part that always wanted to help people find the information they needed. I wasn’t a busybody, surely.” Charlie Harris is smart enough to dig for answers, and then turn those answers over to Chief Deputy Kanesha Berry. My kind of sleuth, one who can even laugh with others that this isn’t an episode from a TV show in which the suspects are all brought together, and the amateur detective endangers himself. Charlie was very much aware of the danger to his family, and he did everything he could to prevent it.
Readers who want an intelligent amateur sleuth with a loveable sidekick won’t go wrong if they pick up Miranda James’ Cat in the Stacks mysteries. File M for Murder should be filed under “E” for entertaining.
Readers can visit Diesel at Facebook.com/DieselHarriscat.
File M for Murder by Miranda James. Berkley Prime Crime. ©2012. ISBN 970425246184 (paperback), 294p.
FTC Full Disclosure – The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.