Monday, November 08, 2010

Cat Coming Home by Shirley Rousseau Murphy

I think I'm where I'm at today in the world of books and crime fiction authors, partially due to Sandie Herron.  Sandie gave me a start, introducing me to mystery authors, when I first started as Chair of the Authors' Programming for the Lee County Reading Festival about twelve years ago.  So, when she asked if she could do a guest review, I jumped at the chance.  It's not every day that someone of Sandie's stature and experience in the book business wants to do a book review. 

Sandie's review was originally published in


By Shirley Rousseau Murphy
William Morrow, 2010 (10/26/10)
ISBN: 9780061806933 Price $19.99

CAT COMING HOME is an excellent addition to the mystery series featuring feline Joe Grey and his pals in a small town nestled among the hills next to the sea. Molena Point, California is home to a unique breed of cat, one that is capable of reading and speaking the human language. Please don’t jump to the conclusion that this must then be some implausible, cutesy tale of talking cats; it is not. The ability of Joe Grey, his lady love Dulcie, and their young friend Kit to speak is kept private and hidden from all but a few chosen humans. The cats choose to anonymously help the local police department using their unique skills and instincts.

The Joe Grey series focuses on a different individual or family in Molena Point in each book. However, the community is still very much involved with their own set of skills. Each entry can stand alone yet the reader’s enjoyment is so much richer when the books are read in sequence. Even though this is 16th in the series, none of the charm has been lost with longevity, rather it has been enhanced as we watch how the people and cats interact and grow. 

Maudie Toola has just returned to Molena Point along with her orphaned grandson Benny. They are trying to start life anew following the horrible shooting deaths of Benny’s father and new stepmother. It is almost Christmas, but Molena Point is having trouble of its own: isolated individuals are being attacked in their homes. The lone women are then roughed up and their homes ransacked with the perpetrators fleeing just as quickly as they arrived. With nothing of substance stolen, Chief of Police Max Harper and his men can’t seem to get a handle on how to catch these criminals or get a clue on where they might strike next. They have determined that the attackers plan a diversionary break-in which captures the police’s attention while the invaders go on to attack their chosen victim. Trying to cover the entire town for both possibilities is stretching the small police force very thin.

Joe Grey and Dulcie are as frustrated as the police. After all, how can two cats survey the entire town at once? Kit is helping but is distracted by a large yellow tomcat who seems to know more about these crimes. Could he be another speaking cat? Where did he come from and why is he here?

Ryan Flannery is building a studio onto Maudie’s home where she can make her award-winning quilts. Ryan isn’t the only one worried about Maudie being alone with all those new windows through which she is so visible. Maudie has a secret, one that only reveals itself at sly moments when she thinks no one is looking. Maudie and Benny both admit that they did not see the killer in those brief flashes of gunfire yet, if the killer thinks otherwise, he could have followed them from Los Angeles, putting them at great risk.

Maudie is unclear who she can trust. Her sister and nephews live just up the street but they haven’t offered any assistance or support. Maudie has become fond of young teenager Lori who helps Ryan in construction. Yet Lori’s father is in prison for murder and one of Maudie’s nephews has just stabbed him in jail. Perhaps Lori is in just as much danger as Maudie.

Who is behind the vicious newspaper attacks against police chief Max Harper and the entire department? Ownership of the paper recently switched hands and what used to be news coverage has become twisted and opinionated quasi-editorials. Most residents read the paper, and some actually believe the drivel printed every day. Max needs to calm everyone down and prove he is still capable of doing his job. There is a particularly amusing scene when Ryan sneaks Joe Grey into town hall.

Shirley Rousseau Murphy’s writing has taken a step forward with her agility in twisting many storylines together. Plot lines that seem unrelated come together effortlessly. Mrs. Murphy has a way of weaving all the events together with strings of friendship. I suppose one of Maudie’s award-winning quilts could represent the various factions and plot lines patched together so seamlessly. I am certain that CAT COMING HOME will be an award-winning addition to this heart-warming series. It absolutely deserves to be on everyone’s “TBR” piles this fall. Just in time to celebrate the holidays along with Molena Point once Joe and pals help Max and his crew put the violence to rest. Highly recommended.

Sandie Herron


Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Sounds like a great book! I love it when subplots and main plot lines all tie in together at the end. Thanks for the recommendation. :)

Lesa said...

Thanks, Elizabeth. I'm glad you enjoyed Sandie's review.

Helen Kiker said...

Sandie, I really enjoyed your review of Cat Coming Home. I hope that you will rview other books for Lesa. This cat series will be added to my TBR list.

Helen Kiker

Sandie Herron said...


Seldom today do we meet people who remember the kindness of years ago and then repay them so graciously as you have today. I'm very touched by your generous expression of appreciation and trust.

I'm delighted that you enjoyed the review so much Elizabeth and Helen. I'm sure you'll enjoy the entire series. I look forward to a new "Joe Grey" story every fall, just in time for Christmas.

Sandie Herron

Lesa said...

Thank you, Helen. I hope Sandie will review books again for me now and then.

Lesa said...

Oh, Sandie,

Definitely my pleasure. Thank you again for the wonderful review, as well as everything else.

Anonymous said...

I've read only one but I love this series! There was a minor subplot of cat romance in the one I read but even that didn't get cutesy. I'll look for Cat Coming Home.

Mary M

Lesa said...

Cat Coming Home is a little different for a book with a touch of Christmas in it. I'm glad Sandie reminded you of this series, Mary.

Sheila Beaumont said...

I love this whole series, and I preordered "Cat Coming Home" as soon as I heard about it. It's another delightful addition to a terrific series. All the characters, feline and human (and the dogs too), are so well portrayed. I really enjoyed Sandie Herron's perceptive review.

Lesa said...

Thank you, Sheila. I'm glad you enjoyed Sandie's review because she might do an occasional review here. This is a series I haven't had a chance to get to, so I'm pleased Sandie was able to share the review here.

Lisa Swan said...

Just finished reading this book. The review is an excellent summary, without giving away what happens. Shirley Rousseau Murphy has really kept up the quality in these books. At no point do they feel stale; in fact, the characters growing and changing is a real plus.

Lesa said...

Thank you, Lisa! Since I haven't read the book, it's great to hear from readers commenting on Sandie's review, particularly saying she doesn't give away too much. I never expected Sandie would, but I love to hear that. Thank you.