Saturday, July 21, 2012

Sticks & Stones by K.J. Larsen

Hot men. Murder. Funny family scenes.Eccentric sidekicks. If you're thinking Janet Evanovich, you're wrong. When K.J. Larsen's first Cat DeLuca mystery, Liar, Liar, came out, I referred to Cat as Stephanie Plum with brains. After reading Sticks & Stones, I'm sticking with my opinion. The latest Cat DeLuca crime caper is as much fun as the early Evanovich books.

After Cat DeLuca caught her husband cheating, she was more than capable of operating a Chicago detective agency called Pants on Fire Detective Agency. She catches liars and cheats. She might be the disgrace of her large Italian family of cops, and her mother might spend all her time praying for her thirty-year-old single daughter to find a husband, and stop taking dirty pictures, but Cat's good at what she does. She even hired a former client, Cleo Jones, after Cleo caught her husband in bed with her sister, and shot his backside full of buckshot. She told her she'd get her dog back from her cheating husband, Walter, and the money he took. But, when Cleo and Cat showed up at Walter's house, someone had already shot him. And, Cleo, captured on video screaming she was going to kill him, is the number one suspect. Cat would have been right there with her, considered an accessory, if she wasn't related to half of the local precinct.

All of Chicago might think Cleo's guilty after seeing that video, but Cat is determined to prove she's innocent. She rallies the troops, her hot FBI boyfriend, Chance Savino, Tino, owner of Tino's Deli, who was once a covert operative for the U.S. government, and Max, a friend and former colleague of Tino's, and Cat's best friend and older brother, Rocco. Men drift in and out of Cat's kitchen, as suspects pile up. Walter had a few enemies, and quite an interesting past. There's a famous Chicago designer, Walter's former boss, a childhood friend. Cat's determined to find the real killer, even as she prepares for a family wedding, and continues to spy on cheating husbands.

The Cat DeLuca mysteries have my favorite quality in a book, wonderful, quirky characters. It's enough to make a reader wish to be part of a large, loving Italian family with all that good food. The stories are filled with cops, including a cop hangout, Mickey's. Then, there's Cat, who won't settle for being a cop's wife and brood mare. She's found a job she loves, and despite her mother's prayers, she sticks to it.

The dialogue in this book creates the humor. The story is fast-paced, and Cat does not always come out on the best side of every meeting. But, those situations, her family, and the other characters are priceless.

If you're a fan of Janet Evanovich's early works, or Deborah Coonts' books, I'm recommending K.J. Larsen's Sticks & Stones. Meet Cat DeLuca, a private eye with a heart of gold in mysteries filled with humor, hot food, and hunks.

K.J. Larsen's website is

Sticks & Stones by K.J. Larsen. Poisoned Pen Press. 2012. ISBN 9781590589236 (paperback), 229p.

FTC Full Disclosure - I bought my copy of this book.


SandyG265 said...

This sounds good. I'll have to look for the first book.

Lesa said...

I even recommended the first one in a women's magazine, Sandy. These are just fun.

Jane R said...

I have been a huge fan of the Evanovich/Stephanie Plum books, but my enthusiasm has waned a bit over the last few years. This series sounds like a great option and I've put it on my book list. Thanks for the heads up!

Lesa said...

You're welcome, Jane. I'm with you. I sort of gave up. I read one here and there, but they don't seem to offer much anymore. This one made me laugh.

Sandie Herron said...

This book sounds like a lot of fun -- and with your description, just the kind of book I'd enjoy reading. I actually have the first book on my e-reader because I ran into a freebie day for the title. Didn't know who she was, but the story sounded fun. Now i can start at the beginning and have some good laughs! Thanks for such a wonderful review! Sandie

PS Your review reminds me that I'm reading a really fun book by Lucy Burdette called AN APPETITE FOR MURDER about a food critic who covers Florida's lower keys, mostly Key West. The second is on the way soon, too - DEATH IN FOUR COURSES. I'll let you know what I think of it when I'm done but I can already tell you I'm loving it.

Lesa said...

K.J. Larsen is actually three sisters who write together, Sandie. I love the humor in this series.

Sandie Herron said...

The fact that this story comes from three sisters -- at the same time -- makes it even more amazing!