As much as I love cats, I'm a little leery of cutesy cat mysteries. I like my cats to be cats, even if they do help to solve cases. I don't want talking cats. Sofie Ryan avoids that situation with the first in a new series, The Whole Cat and Caboodle. Elvis, the cat, doesn't talk, but he certainly communicates. Just like Diesel in Miranda James' Cat in the Stacks mysteries, this is a cat to fall for. There are also many other reasons to read this book.
Sarah Grayson returned to North Harbor, Maine, where she spent her happiest summers at her grandmother's. Now, she owns Second Chance, a shop where she sells used items that have been refurbished and repurposed. And, Elvis, a used cat, somehow acquired her. Elvis also acquired a whole slew of admirers who recognize a loving, intelligent cat.
Sarah also has a slew of admirers, the women who are her grandmother's best friends. When Sarah teaches a class, and one of those friends, Maddie, doesn't show up, everyone says it's because of the new man in her life. But, it's not like Maddie to fail to call. Sarah and Charlotte head over to check on her, and find Maddie sitting in her garden, next to the man she's been seeing. But, Maddie is in shock, and Arthur Fenety is dead.
Two of Sarah's old friends are on the case. Charlotte's son, Nick, is now working for the State Medical Examiner's Office. And, her former best friend, Michelle, is the investigating officer. That doesn't mean Maddie has it easy. All clues point to her as the main suspect. Sarah quickly calls another friend, now an attorney, and leaves the case in his hands. But, her grandmother's friends, Charlotte, Rose, and Liz, have something else in mind. The three are determined to turn "Charlie's Angels", and find a better suspect. Elvis is on their side, while Sarah reluctantly agrees to keep the women out of trouble.
My sister, Christie, actually sent me an excellent summary before I read this book. She said she liked Sarah and Elvis. No one was "Too Stupid To Live", trying to hide information from the police. And, she told me I would love Elvis. She even liked the size of the print, a little larger than normal for a paperback. Christie summed it up perfectly. This first book in the Second Chance Cat mystery series does have an enormous cast of characters, but it's an introductory book to the series. Ryan is introducing them, providing backstory, and preparing for future books. It's just hard to sort out the three "Charlie's Angels" sometimes.
But, I suspect readers will enjoy meeting Sarah and all her friends. The Whole Cat and Caboodle is an intelligent mystery set in a small town filled with people who care about each other. And, they all seem to care about Elvis. It's a mystery filled with food, music, friends, and one streetwise intelligent cat. What more do you want?
Sofie Ryan's website is www.sofieryan.com
The Whole Cat and Caboodle by Sofie Ryan. Obsidian, 2014. ISBN 9780451419941 (paperback), 323p.
FTC Full disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.