Welcome to Cozy Wednesday!
I am so excited to have Miranda James stop by today!
For Old Times’ Sake
by Miranda James
I love old movies. Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, Irene Dunne, Claudette Colbert, Clark Gable, Barbara Stanwyck, Fred McMurray, Rosalind Russell, Carole Lombard, Audrey Hepburn, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers – these were the great stars of Hollywood’s Golden Era (and yes I know I’ve left off a lot of names, so you can add your own favorites to the list). My favorite genre of movies from this period is screwball comedy. I love the fast-paced stories, the rapid-fire dialogue, and the subtle ways that sexual attraction is handled.
My favorite screwball comedies, you ask? Well, Bringing Up Baby tops the list, but close to the top are gems like The Awful Truth and Ball of Fire. I have seen my favorites numerous times. I like to re-watch my favorites for the same reasons that I like to re-read favorite books. It’s simply spending time with old friends, particularly old friends whom you can trust not to disappoint you.
There is at least one screwball murder mystery, The Mad Miss Manton, with Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda. It’s actually a fairly clever plot, and it’s well worth seeking out. So is The Lady Eve with the same two stars; it has crime as part of the plot, and Stanwyck and Fonda are superb in it.
When I was trying to come up with a title for the latest “Cat in the Stacks” novel, I found a list of movies titles that had been changed so that each had some kind of cat reference. The one that immediately attracted my attention was The Pawful Truth. It’s obviously a take-off on one of my favorites, named above, and that set me thinking.
What if? These are the two most useful words for a mystery writer. What if I took elements from the comic movie and used them in the plot of a murder mystery? How would that turn out?
The result was the latest book in the series, The Pawful Truth. If you’ve seen the movie, I hope you will enjoy some of the in-jokes in the story. If you haven’t seen it, I hope you’ll watch it at some point. It’s enormous fun, and I hope you also have fun with the story I have told.
Oh, Miranda, I love old movies too! I haven’t seen The Awful Truth in years. I may have to rectify that soon 🙂
Thank you, for visiting today!
Keep reading for my thoughts about A Pawful Truth.
The Pawful Truth (Cat in the Stacks Mystery)
11th in Series
Setting – Mississippi
Berkley (July 16, 2019)
Hardcover: 304 pages
Kindle ASIN: B07JLMQHRF
In addition to his library duties and his role as doting grandad, Charlie has enrolled in an early medieval history course offered by young, charismatic professor Carey Warriner. Charlie feels a bit out of place- his fellow classmates are half his age- except for Dixie Bell Compton, another ‘mature’ student. When Charlie hears an angry exchange between her and their professor, his interest in piqued. He’s even more intrigued when she shows up at his office asking for a study partner. Charlie turns her down and is saddened to learn just a few days later that Dixie has been killed.
Charlie wonders if Professor Warriner had anything to do with Dixie’s death. Warriner is married to a fellow professor who happens to be a successful author. There are rumors on campus that their marriage was on the rocks. Was Dixie’s death the result of a lovers’ triangle gone bad? Charlie soon discovers that the professor’s wife may have some secrets of her own and his suspect list is only getting longer.
As he and Diesel step further into the tangled web of relationships, someone else is viciously killed. Whose jealousy finally erupted into murderous rage? Was it a crime of passion or is there another more sinister motive? Charlie races to unravel this mystery: and to draw out the culprit, he may just have to put his own life on the line…
Grandpa, Dad, Archive Librarian, Landlord, Student, and Diesel’s person, Charlie Harris has a very full life. Being a student is new as he is auditing an early medieval history course at the college taught by Professor Carey Warriner. Charlie is not the only “mature student” taking the class. Nowhere close to his age but older than the rest in the class Dixie Bell Compton is taking the class for credit and offers to be his study partner. Since he is just auditing the class he turns her down. Charlie is very impressed with Warriner’s lecture skills but after overhearing the professor’s after-class conversation with Dixie and the rumors he has heard about him and his wife, Irene, another professor, he is concerned about his other qualities. When Dixie is killed a few days later he truly wonders if Warriner is involved.
Charlie also takes in a new boarder, a man Stewart and Haskell met at the gym. He also has ties to the college. Dan Bellamy teaches history with a focus on Regency England. He is close to Irene Warriner who is also an author with books set in the time Bellamy specializes in.
All the rest of the cast we have come to love over the course of this series return including Dante, Stewart’s poodle, my favorite fictional feline, Diesel, and the new kitten in residence, Ramses. We are also introduced to a large number of people as the story proceeds in Charlie’s effort to investigate. I was thrilled to see Miss Dickce Ducote make more than a cameo appearance.
The first part of the book gives background for new readers and introduces some of the new characters all before the murder occurs. Since Charlie is now known for his investigations people seem to come out of the woodwork to offer their assistance. There are plenty of suspects and Charlie works hard to pare those down as quickly as possible. Diesel also offers his opinions with a variety of chirps and head bumps. Fans of the series realize his talents and in this installment, he gave a clear indication of who he had his sights on earlier than usual.
I do enjoy the way Ms. James constructs her stories. We get to drop in on the entire Harris family and catch up with them. His daughter-in-law was having a hard time in a previous book and we learn that she is still working through something many women deal with and that there is no quick fix. I appreciate the way all the family storylines continue to evolve and are allowed to run their course. She entangles the murder mystery in key and meaningful ways. The pace she sets is very comfortable at first but as we get deeper into the story and clues start to fall into place the pace picks up until we get to the big reveal. At that point, pages can’t flip fast enough and the reader’s heartrates increase.
This entire series is wonderful. Miranda James is an excellent author. Her characters are some of my cozy favorites. Seeing that cat on the cover always brings a huge smile to my face. You truly can’t go wrong with any book by this author.
Find out more about Miranda James and her books on her webpage here.
Use the search feature to find my reviews for all of the Cats in the Stacks Mysteries.
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”