Thursday, January 28, 2016

Book Review: Classified as Murder by Miranda James (Cat in the Stacks Mysteries #2)



Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Good mystery and enjoyable characters
Cons: A little slow to get started
The Bottom Line:
Rare book collection
Was it motive for murder?
Have fun finding out




Why Did I Wait So Long to Return to This Series?

It’s been almost two years since I read the first book in the Cat in the Stacks Mysteries.  I loved it, and I fully did intend to read Classified as Murder before now.  (Although in my defense, I did read the two books in the spin off series.)  I was very happy to return to revisit librarian Charlie Harris and his cat Diesel in this charming sequel.

In addition to his work at the Athena College in the rare book room, Charlie also volunteers at the local public library.  It’s through his work at the library that he’s come to know James Delacorte.  They are on a friendly basis, but nothing more, which is why Charlie is a bit surprised when James asks for his help.  It seems that James is a private collector who has amassed a huge collection of rare books.  However, he thinks someone has stolen something from his collection, and he wants Charlie’s expertise to help find if something was stolen and what it is.

As a result of this request, Charlie meets James’s family, an odd and greedy lot who seem to constantly be at each other’s throats.  However, Charlie doesn’t expect to return from lunch on his first day to find James murdered.  With a possible motive for the murder being a theft from James’s private library, Charlie has to keep on the job.  Had someone stolen a rare book?

It’s actually funny.  In reading the authors two Southern Ladies Mysteries, I commented on how both felt like modern day Agatha Christie stories.  In this book, Charlie himself, our narrator and a huge mystery fan, beat me to the punch.  That comparison is definitely true and that’s not a bad thing at all.

I will say the mystery started out a little slowly.  We needed time to get Charlie involved with the Delacorte family and meet the possible suspects.  There is also a sub-plot introduced involving Charlie’s grown son Sean, who has arrived unexpectedly for a visit.  There is tension here, but not as much as I would have liked.

That changes once the murder takes place.  At this point, we are in for a great ride as Charlie starts looking for clues in addition to any missing books.  The twists and red herrings kept me guessing until the killer was revealed at the end, and the climax was wonderful.

The cast of characters is strong.  We don’t have too many returning characters from the previous book, but that gives us more page time to get to know the suspects.  They are all memorable characters, and that makes it much harder to figure out who done it.  Charlie gets some great character development in this book, and I also liked seeing his relationship with the police grow here.

While I was expecting the tension that developed once the murder happened, I wasn’t expecting the laughs.  We got a couple of them over the course of the book, and some of that came from the antics of the animals.  Charlie owns a Maine Coons cat named Diesel, and Sean shows up with his dog Dante.  Both steal any scene they are in and will completely steal your heart.  They did mine, and I’m not much of an animal person.

My goal for this year is to read several books in this series, so I need to build on this great start.  I’m expecting all of them to be as enjoyable as Classified as Murder.

And if you need to catch up on the series, here are the Cat in the Stacks Mysteries in order.

6 comments:

  1. I read the first one in this series years and years ago but it sounds like I definitely need to go revisit it. How can I pass up a modern Agatha Christie? I want to try the Southern Ladies series as well.

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    1. I'm glad to see I'm not the only one behind on this series. You'll enjoy catching up, I'm sure.

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  2. Thanks for the great review, reminder, and link to the books! Have plenty of time in 2016 to catch up!

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    1. Looks like there will be a group of us catching up on these books this year.

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  3. I haven't read this series, but it sounds like one I might enjoy.

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    1. It's a very popular series, and from what I can tell, for very good reason.

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