Saturday, October 31, 2015

Claws for Alarm by T.C. LoTempio

Have you ever finished a book despite your frustration with the main character? I loved Nora Charles, the investigative reporter turned sandwich shop owner, and the intuitive, spooky cat she adopts, Nick, in T.C. LoTempio's Meow If It's Murder. But, I found Nora exasperating in Claws for Alarm, the newest book. Maybe it's a sign of a well-written story that the characters are so alive that they make you angry?

When Professor Thaddeus C. Pitt, a wealthy art collector and instructor is murdered, Lacey Charles is found standing over the body, holding the murder weapon. It's easy to understand why the police arrest Nora Charles' sister. Although Lacey and Nora aren't close, Nora immediately rushes to Cruz, California, to be there for her sister. Lacey admits she had a public confrontation with Pitt that same day, but insists she didn't murder him. But, she's angry that Nora has to intervene, "the cool, levelheaded older sister has to step in to save the family legacy from the flighty, impetuous younger sister, the one who has yet to make a success of anything she undertakes."

But, they are sisters. And, Nora will do anything she can to keep her sister from going to prison for a murder she didn't commit. With Nick, the cat with extraordinary detective skills by her side, Nora is determined to find out who really killed Pitt, whether it was another disgruntled student, a cheating wife, a cast-off son, or someone else in the art world.

Nora will do anything. And, that's why I was so angry with her character. She's friends with both the homicide detective and an FBI agent who is involved in the case, yet she insists in plowing ahead with her own investigation, interfering at every turn. Daniel, the FBI agent, knows her well. Your "zeal for solving puzzles often overshadows your better judgment." Nora acts childish at times, crossing her fingers as she lies to the men, and, once she leaves their presence, continues her rash actions.

I know. We always suspend disbelief when we read mysteries of any kind, particularly cozy mysteries when an amateur sleuth is involved. But, Nora Charles just went too far for me. The sad part? I'm still curious about the underlying question of the disappearance of detective Nick Atkins, and I'll probably pick up the next book in the series. But, I'm so disappointed after reading Claws for Alarm, that I'm taking a break from cozy mysteries for a week or so.

T.C. LoTempio's website is

Claws for Alarm by T.C. LoTempio. Berkley Prime Crime. 2015. ISBN 9780425270219 (paperback), 290p.

FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.


Jeffrey Meyerson said...

Sounds like the old "Had I But Known" syndrome.

I hate that.

Jeff M.

Lesa said...

It's my "Had I But Known", Jeff, Had I but known, I probably wouldn't have read the book.

BPL Ref said...

I agree, Lisa. I've hit a big patch where it seemed every cozy heroine was TSTL. And, like you, I'm frustrated. It's more because there could have been a really good book in there except for that, and I feel the author could have pulled it off. It's the "What Might Have Been." If the whole book is stupid, well, that's my fault for continuing to read when there are no redeeming features. I don't really care in that case. But where there potential, I am frustrated, especially when I like the writing in general.