Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Strong mystery and delightful characters as always
Cons: Despite my rant, none
The Bottom Line:
New library boss
Creates plenty of conflict
In fast moving book
New Director is Nothing but Trouble
I think I’ve mentioned my allergies to dogs and cats in some of the reviews I’ve written recently since I’ve been reading more pet themed mysteries. As the main character takes their pets with them everywhere, I think about the poor people who are allergic to animals. That issue finally comes up in No Cats Allowed, the newest Cat in the Stacks mystery by Miranda James.
You see, the Athena College library has a new director, and Oscar Reilly is making enemies among the staff. He’s accused Charlie Harris’s friend Melba Gilley of lying on her time card and threatened to scrutinize her attendance as an excuse to get someone younger in her job. The heads of the various departments in the library are angry with him for other reasons and Charlie has caught him leering at students and student workers. In fact, Charlie’s complaint, that Oscar has said Charlie can’t bring his cat Diesel to his part time job in the archives any more, is rather minor compared to the other issues if no less annoying.
With the number of enemies that Oscar has made in a short amount of time, it’s not too surprising when he turns up dead, although his death seems especially brutal. Charlie doesn’t intend to get involved, but the police think that Melba is their top suspect. As others on the library staff come to Charlie with tidbits, he finds himself completely involved in another murder investigation. Can he figure out who killed Oscar?
Okay, I do have to get a minor rant off my chest that has nothing to do with how I truly feel about the book. I just get so tired of how allergies are portrayed in books, TV, and movies. Oscar claims he is allergic to Diesel, which is why he doesn’t want Charlie to bring the cat to work anymore. Charlie doesn’t believe this claim because he hasn’t seen the signs of it the two times Oscar and Diesel have been in the same room. As an allergy sufferer, I will argue that if you are looking for the over the top signs we usually see in the media, you will often miss the signs of an allergy attack. For me, it’s an itchy throat and allergy induced asthma that would be the first signs followed by watery eyes with sneezing being the last. So after 15 minutes in the same room with a cat, I might be miserable but you would most likely never know. Of course, I would also talk to the person who has the pet first instead of going straight to Human Resources like Oscar does here. Having said all that, I am as confident as Charlie that Oscar was lying about his allergies. Oscar is a complete and total jerk who would lie about this for his own reasons. In other words, he’s the kind of person we love to see as the victim in a murder mystery because of all the suspects it sets up.
And let me be clear – I absolutely loved this book. In fact, it might be my favorite in the series. As always, the author does a great job of setting up the suspects and motives before the murder takes place. At that point, it is up to Charlie to figure out what is really happening and which of the motives was enough to commit murder. There are some good twists and turns before we reach the solution. The climax might have been a tad rushed, but I’m being very nitpicky here since all of our questions and lose ends are tied up.
I absolutely love these characters. I will always wish to see more of the supporting cast, but we actually got to see a good amount of most of them here, including some nice advancement in series plot lines for a couple of them. There are great new characters as well who fill the suspect slots perfectly. Diesel is his usual charming self. I love getting to visit animals via the page since I wouldn’t last long around them in person.
One of the things I love most about this series is how Charlie goes about doing his investigation. He has a respect for the sheriff who is officially investigating the murder. He shares what he learns with her immediately. And even when he feels she is looking in the wrong direction, he trusts her to be fair. He even does his best to avoid dangerous situations. It’s a refreshing change from most of the cozies I read.
I can’t say this strongly enough, if you’ve yet to start the Cat in the Stacks series, do so today. These are fun and charming books that will be over before you know it. And if you are already a fan, don’t hesitate to pick up No Cats Allowed. You’ll be charmed again.
Need to backtrack? Here are the Cat in the Stack Mysteries in order.
NOTE: I received a copy of this book in the hopes I would review it.