Joe Grey Mystery, Book 21
Written by Shirley Rousseau Murphy
Publisher: William Morrow (April 23, 2019)
1st edition hardcover
The small town of Molena Point, California is having a big problem. Bank couriers and business people alike are being mugged as they make big cash deposits. These may be tied to a man the MPPD is informally watching; a scruffy looking man who is attending Saturday morning story hour at the library where children listen to stories as closely as four cats. Dulcie, the official library cat, insists that her mate Joe Grey attend, and is glad when her daughter Courtney joins along with friend Kit and her mate Pan. Joe Grey and his gang are all sentient cats who can read and speak, a secret kept from everyone but their housemates.
Police only know Joe Grey as the unofficial cat of the police station. Joe frequents Chief Max Harper’s desk often, reading reports and notes so that he can do his own detecting work. While the police don’t know it, Joe is the phantom snitch, a voice that calls in tips to the police that always reveal clues or information they might otherwise never have. This time Joe Grey has foiled a man burying a woman in the sandy beach, and he calls in so a rescue can be made. No one knows who she is.
The police are perplexed when they receive another anonymous tip from someone who sounds very different but whose message is urgent. A businessman has been mugged and gravely injured. The caller is recently widowed Zebulon Luther whose sons, daughter-in-law and granddaughter have moved to town from his farm and left him alone. A chance delivery of his son’s bank statement reveals he has an enormous sum of money stashed away, so Zeb follows his son Nevin and watches him murder the restaurant owner headed for the bank.
While the cats are searching the town for clues, the scruffy man kidnaps Courtney! He has focused on her striking appearance, which has been featured in artwork and tapestries from as long ago as medieval times. He takes her to his antique shop and apartment above it, revealing his disguise. He has grand plans to put Courtney on display and travel the world when her feline markings link her to the classic artwork featuring her likeness. He promises a life of luxury and stardom. Stars fill Courtney’s dreams, but she knows she won’t be happy even in a three-story cage studded with gems.
Courtney is watching the store owner, for he is dealing with Zeb’s son Nevin too. How are they connected, and where is all this cash going? Will Courtney escape? Will Zeb survive if his son Nevin discovers he is being watched? Will Joe Grey and friends save the day? Tangled storylines finally bring the answer to how all is interconnected.
This 21st entry in the Joe Grey series is just as charming and compelling as the entire series. Having read all the entries up to this one brings a rich and full understanding of all the characters, human and feline. However, this book can stand alone as the enthralling story it is. Brief explanations bring the newcomer into the story without boring the long-time reader. I enjoyed it immensely.