What the Cat Dragged In (Cat in the Stacks Mystery)
14th in Series
Setting – Mississippi
Publisher : Berkley (August 31, 2021)
Hardcover : 304 pages
ISBN-10 : 0593199464
ISBN-13 : 978-0593199466
Kindle ASIN : B08CTFV6VW
Librarian Charlie Harris and his faithful feline companion, Diesel, have inherited Charlie’s grandfather’s house, along with a deadly legacy: a decades-old crime scene, in this all-new mystery in the New York Times bestselling Cat in the Stacks series.
Charlie has always believed that his grandfather had sold his house to his longtime tenant, Martin Hale. So when Martin dies, Charlie is surprised to discover the house was not left to Martin but instead belongs to Charlie. As he and Diesel check out the house he remembers fondly from his childhood, he is pleasantly surprised that it is in better condition than expected. That is, until they find a literal skeleton in a closet.
While the sheriff’s department investigates the mysterious remains, Charlie digs deeper into the past for clues to the identity of the bones and why they are there. But the cold case heats up quickly when Martin’s grandson is found dead on the farm.
As Charlie delves into his own family history, he encounters many people who might have been motivated to take a life. But Charlie and Diesel know that things are not always what they seem and that secrets seemingly lost to time have a way of finding their way back to haunt the present.
In this latest Cats in the Stacks Mystery Charlie gets a big surprise. He inherits the family farmhouse outside of town. He had always thought his grandfather had sold the property but instead he gave the tenant Martin Hale, a lifelong lease. When Mr. Hale passed away the property reverted back to the Harris family, Charlie. His son Sean, a lawyer, is helping him wade through all the paperwork and necessary actions. Not having been in the house in years Charlie is anxious to take a tour of the place with Diesel by his side. The place will need a little work but is in better shape than he expected. While checking out the attic, Diesel makes a scary discovery . . . a human skeleton in an old wardrobe. This puts any plans for the place on hold.
Charlie reports Diesel’s find to the sheriff’s office who calls in a specialist to try to identify the skeleton. Charlie realizes he doesn’t know or remember much about his family history so he takes the opportunity to investigate his family tree. He may even be able to identify the remains before the sheriff.
A huge storm moves through the area leaving downed trees at the family homestead and a body is found under a downed limb. It is quickly identified to be Hale’s grandson who thought he would be inheriting the property. When the limb is removed evidence shows the man was killed before the storm and it wasn’t any accident. The investigation into the skeleton turns into a current murder investigation and Charlie uncovers many reasons for the death and many other secrets as well.
I loved this story. Charlie’s deep dive into his family’s history drew my interest. I have a niece that has been researching our family history, something I have wanted to do for years but haven’t been able to do. I realized too late that I should have sat down with my mother who had vast knowledge of our family on both her and my father’s sides and his was very complicated. She would always know how everyone fit together and had wonderful stories that I should have listened to more carefully. When she passed away much of that knowledge passed away with her, knowledge I would have loved to pass on to my children and grandchildren. So you see, I was very excited to see Charlie take on this project. Keeping track of a family’s history is so important.
The mysteries Charlie was entangled in, the murder, and the skeleton were just a jumping-off point. There was another case the Athena Sheriff’s Office had been trying to solve that was really unknown to Charlie that he was able to solve as part of a terrifying incident at the end of the story. It was totally off his radar as he struggled with decisions about his family homestead and the deaths that had occurred.
I really enjoyed the author’s description of the Harris Family Homestead. I know the layout of Charlie’s current home, Helen Louise’s Bistro, (she on a girls getaway with her friends during this story), the college, his office, and the layout of the small town of Athena quite well after the 13 previous books in this series. She gives good concise details of this new to us property and I was able to follow along through each room and even into the neighboring woods.
Ms. James plotted such an excellent story with intrigue, secrets, drama, and action while allowing us to catch up on the regular daily news with Charlie, his family, his tenants, Melba, Kanesha, Azalea, plus Ramses and Diesel too. All of these characters are charming in their own ways and while I know there is going to be a stellar mystery or two in each book it is those characters that bring me back for each new installment of this wonderful series.
What the Cat Dragged In is now my favorite book in this series. It has everything I look for in a cozy mystery and more.
You will find What the Cat Dragged In on my Best Reads of 2021 list because in my opinion it deserves more than 5 stars and receives my Paradise Rating.
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About the Author
Find out more about Miranda James and her books on her webpage here.
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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.”