In the meantime, I'm always grateful that Sandie Herron contributes some reviews of audio books. I probably reviewed all of Miranda James' Cat in the Stacks mysteries, but that doesn't mean I addressed how the books work for those who like to listen to them. Sandie does that for us. Thank you, Sandie.
Murder Past Due
Series: Cat in the Stacks Mystery Book 1
Written by Miranda James
Narrated by Erin Bennett
Listening Length: 8 hours and 46 minutes
Publisher: Audible Studios
Release Date: February 25, 2014
I very much enjoyed Miranda James's (Dean James) first entry in the Cat in the Stacks series MURDER PAST DUE. This was a relatively simple story that gained speed as it unfolded. By the end, we had been treated to several twists and surprises that pointed to an unlikely conclusion.
Taking place in the college town of Athena, Mississippi, we are introduced to Charlie Harris, who is widowed and whose adult children are on their own. Living in a large home, Charlie took in boarders who attended Athena College. This semester just one boarder - Justin Wardlaw, son of school and college classmate Julia Wardlaw - lived with Charlie and his cat. Diesel was a Maine Coon cat; therefore he was large among cat breeds. In fact, Charlie almost always took Diesel wherever he went bound by a harness and leash.
Another classmate of Charlie and Julia, Godfrey Priest, had gone on to become a famous and popular author. He returns to Athena for several reasons. He is to do a signing of his new book just published. He also wants to donate his "papers" to the college where Charlie was the head archivist. A dinner was planned to thank Godfrey for his donation; however, he never made it. Several people stopped by to see Priest, with his final visitor being Charlie Harris, who found Godfrey dead in his hotel room.
First we discover that Charlie’s boarder Justin is Godfrey's son from an affair he and Julia had many years ago. From there clues began popping up, or at least now that there was a murder to solve, they became more apparent. If I shared them now, there would be no reason for you to enjoy this cozy mystery.
There were some things that strained believability. Justin acted younger than 18, but then he's just been told that the only father he ever knew is not his father and then his biological father, Godfrey Priest, is killed, all in one day. Charlie tries to help since he knew everyone, but his involvement was unnaturally formal and friendly at the same time. On getting to know Charlie better, we discover that he is a southern gentleman which explains the importance of proper manners to him. Julia was around a bit too often, hovering over Justin. When the Will was read, Julia wanted to know how much was in the estate, in dollars, a rude question at the time.
While there might have been some flaws, I felt the clues to the murderer were well placed and plausible. Their presentation was unpredictable yet believable. When we learn more behind the motives, clues came together to support the final resolution, even though my jaw dropped once or twice on the way.
A great first mystery in the Cat in the Stacks series. I would enjoy seeing Charlie and Diesel in a certain sequel.