Jugs, a cat with gleaming green eyes who can broadcast his thoughts to his guardian. Bingo, a chubby feline based on the author's adored cat, Boomerang. Miss Marple, a savvy cat who enjoys napping in the Haven't Got a Clue bookstore. Merlot, Chablis and Syrah, three delightful felines who star in the Cats in Trouble series.
Cats feature prominently in the current crop of cozies. Clever, alert and intuitive, they often provide assistance in solving crimes and always offer a serene, comforting presence to their owners.
In What the Cat Saw by Carolyn Hart, Nela Farley makes an interesting discovery when she agrees to care for a highly intelligent cat named Jugs. Whenever she looks into the cat's beautiful eyes, she "moves into his mind" and immediately receives messages about a murder he witnessed. At first Nela is disconcerted by this phenomenon and wonders if she is imagining it, but she quickly learns to trust Jugs' feelings about people. A tender romance with journalist Steve Flynn develops in the novel, and the two of them work together to solve a double murder.
In The Cat, the Wife and the Weapon by Leann Sweeney, heroine Jillian Hart creates cat quilts. She has three constant companions; Merlo, a red Maine coon cat; Chablis, a seal point Himalayan; and Syrah, an Amber Abyssinian. She refers to them as her "four-legged assistants" and she is convinced that they sense her feelings. She's adept at reading their body language and she trusts their intuitions about people. This is the fourth book in the series, and the sometimes rocky romance between Jillian and Tom Stewart progresses nicely. We learn that Tom comes from a dysfunctional family, and Jillian learns some secrets about his past. Tom is also a cat lover and is devoted to his cat, Dashiell. He endears himself to Jillian by setting up a "cat cam," so she can watch her cats when she is away from home.
In Murder of the Cat's Meow, Denise Swanson based the feline character, Bingo, on her lovely real-life cat, Boomerang. In the 15th release in the popular Scumble River series, Skye Denison, school psychologist, investigates the murder of a judge at a cat show. The behind-the scenes details about cat shows and cat fanciers are exciting and will appeal to anyone who loves felines. And the murder method is unique — death by catnip mouse! (When the judge's dead body is found, it appears he was strangled with the cat toy.) Skye's romance with Police Chief Wally Boyd is front and center in this book and readers will be pleased to learn that Skye is finally sporting an engagement ring.
In Murder on the Half Shelf, Lorna Barrett delivers another exciting release in the Booktown Mysteries. Tricia Miles, the owner of the Haven't Got a Clue bookstore in Stoneham, N.H., owns a lovely feline named Miss Marple. Miss Marple can nudge Tricia's attention to a clue by merely gazing steadily at it, and her interest in a cocktail napkin proves to be relevant to the case. Fans of the series will be happy to learn that Tricia's relationship with Grant Baker seems to be on firmer ground. They've had a complicated romance in the past, but now in the sixth release in this appealing series, they've taken their relationship to a new level.
Why are cats so popular in mysteries? Why do people rely on their intuitive responses? As Carolyn Hart says, "No one can fool a cat. A cat always knows exactly what someone thinks and feels."
Dr. Mary Kennedy is a licensed psychologist in private practice in the northeast, and the author of The Talk Radio Mysteries for Penguin. Visit her at www.marykennedy.net
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