Hiss Me Deadly (Cat in the Stacks Mystery)
15th in Series
Setting – Mississippi
Berkley (June 27, 2023)
Hardcover : 320 pages
ISBN-10 : 0593199499
ISBN-13 : 978-0593199497
Kindle ASIN : B09891QPZQ
Charlie Harris remembers Wilfred “Wil” Threadgill as one of the outsiders during high school in Athena. Although Wil was a couple of years ahead of him and his friend Melba Gilley, Melba had a big crush on Wil, who dropped out after his junior year. An aspiring musician, Wil hit the road for California and never looked back. Wil eventually became a star, fronting a band and writing award-winning songs.
Coming back to Athena to work for two weeks with students in the college music department, Wil is now the big man on campus. Not everyone is happy to have him back, however. His entourage has been the target of several acts of petty harassment. At first, they are easy for Wil to shrug off, but the incidents escalate and become more troubling. When one of the band members is killed Charlie worries that Melba, now deeply involved with the man at the center of the attacks, could be in deadly danger. It is up to Charlie and Diesel to find out who hates Wil Threadgill enough to silence his song . . . forever!
After a bit of a hiatus, we are back in Athena, Mississippi visiting Charlie Harris and his family and my personal favorite fictional feline, Diesel. In this story, a man Charlie and his bestie Melba went to school with returns after making it big musically in California. He is being given an honorary degree at the college and will spend two weeks mentoring students in the music department. Melba had/has a huge crush on the man and is acting like a schoolgirl whenever he is around.
But not everyone is thrilled to have the man back in town. It seems that his departure all those years ago had a real impact on the ones he left behind and someone is making it known. At a reception to welcome Wilfred “Wil” Threadgill home the threats and harassment hit a whole new level when one of Wil’s former bandmates is killed. Charlie is worried that anyone connected to the man could be in danger including Melba. Charlie has no choice but to try to find who was hurt by Wil’s departure bad enough to kill. With Diesel by his side, he hopes he can make the killer sing out a confession and fast before anyone else is singing their swansong.
It was great to catch up Charlie. He is always busy with some cataloging or smoothing something out for his family or friends or in the middle of another mystery. I can never get enough of his fabulous cat Diesel and his chirps and mrrrrs. His son Sean and his wife are going through some adjustments with a new baby and a home renovation and Charlie is always there with an open ear to listen and maybe impart some words of wisdom. Helen Louise and Charlie are getting closer and fans like me will love to see that relationship evolve in a meaningful way. Truthfully all the core characters continue to develop nicely but with everything Charlie had on his plate, he didn’t seem to be the Charlie I had expected to see. I can’t totally put my finger on it but heck people in real life go through ebbs and flows so there is no reason a fictional character can’t too. Charlie is blessed though to have the best cat who can lift anyone’s spirits and make them feel better with a couple of chirps, trills, and touches.
The mystery blended nicely with the subplots. I found myself focused on a couple of suspects pretty quickly but I had an inking about someone else too. So when all was revealed in dramatic fashion with some key characters in mortal danger I was pretty impressed with my own amateur sleuthing. I did enjoy the twists and clever attempts of misdirection. The ending was a little abrupt though. I didn’t get the final closure I needed regarding Wil Threadgill, his career, and Melba but maybe we will in the next book. I do wish Charlie had been more actively involved in the investigation but he was there when it counted.
The author always does an excellent job setting the scene so readers can easily visualize everything. Charlie’s home, his office, the library, Helen Louise’s bistro, Sean’s new home, and everywhere in between including where the showdown took place. It is always a joy to travel around with Charlie.
There were a couple of editing issues that I hope were ironed out before the final copy was printed like Charlie living through the same afternoon twice including two lunch breaks. They gave me pause and messed with flow but I was able to get back on track.
Hiss Me Deadly gets us back to Athena and the characters we love and that is a very good thing. I was delighted to see that the next book in the series has been turned in to the publisher as of yesterday and should be released next summer. I have already added it to my calendar.
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About the Author
Find out more about Miranda James and her books on her webpage here.
Also by Miranda James
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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.”