Cold cases, cats, and food. T.C. LoTempio hit my interests with the first in her Nick and Nora series, Meow If It's Murder. She brings together a cast of interesting characters, a hint of future romance, and a complex mystery. But, my favorite cast members are Nora Charles, investigative reporter turned sandwich shop owner, and the cat that adopts her, a handsome tuxedo named Nick.
When Nora's mother died, she returned to Cruz, California to take over the family business, a sandwich shop called Hot Bread. But, she can't leave behind her interest in true crime. Although she submitted a few short stories to an online crime magazine, Noir, she would like to write about cold cases. And, she's particularly interested in the death of Lola Grainger, a wealthy socialite who was a customer of Nora's mother. It seems odd that Lola, who feared water, would be found drowned off the family yacht. Everyone warns Nora about involving herself in a case that was ruled accidental death. Even her best friend, Chantal, who claims to be psychic, warns her, saying she sees danger in her future.
Maybe Nora should listen to Chantal. Right after she predicts "a dark handsome stranger" will enter Nora's life, Nick turns up at Nora's door. And, in an odd coincidence, Nora tracks his original owner, a private detective who disappeared while searching for answers to Lola Grainger's death. But, with Nick, it might not be such a coincidence. The cat seems to have an uncanny ability to communicate, to understand how an investigation works, and to offer clues. Nora might not be so far off when she says she has "the world's first psychic cat". It's just too bad the hot new detective in town, Daniel Corleone, doesn't understand Nora as well as Nick does.
I read my cozy mysteries with the understanding that most amateur sleuths would have no reason to get involved in the investigations. It's part of suspending disbelief, and enjoying the story. However, Nora Charles worked as an investigative reporter for years, and the death of a woman her mother liked is a logical first case in her new location. And, of course, she's stubborn and continues to investigate when everyone, including Detective Corleone, warns her away. It's much more logical that she would investigate than the role played by Nick, a cat who is also a detective in his own right.
Meow If It's Murder is an entertaining series debut. Suspend your disbelief, and enjoy the adventures of Nick and Nora. I'm certainly looking forward to their further investigations.
T.C. LoTempio's website is www.tclotempio.com
Meow If It's Murder by T.C. LoTempio. Berkley Prime Crime. 2015. ISBN 9780425270202 (paperback), 296p.
FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.