Thursday, February 15, 2018

Book Review: The Corpse with the Silver Tongue by Cathy Ace (Cait Morgan #1)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Interesting mystery with complex characters
Cons: Cait at times
The Bottom Line:
A death at dinner
Ruins Cait’s working vacation
And starts this series

Deadly Trip to Nice

There are so many authors and books out there I just can’t get to them all despite my best efforts.  (And yes, I do try.)  That’s why I just bought Cathy Ace’s first mystery at Malice Domestic last year, and I’m just now reading it.  The Corpse with the Silver Tongue introduces us to Cait Morgan, a criminologist who seems to find murder wherever she goes.

Cait Morgan is a professor who specializes in criminal psychology.  Originally from Wales, she has settled in British Columbia.  However, as this book opens, she finds herself in Nice in the southern part of France, presenting a paper for a colleague who got sick at the last minute.  She’s getting a long weekend out of it at the college’s expense, so she’s quite happy.

Then she runs into Alistair Townsend at the hotel bar.  She used to work for the man before she got her masters degree, and she loathed him.  But she can’t quite say no to an invitation from him, so she finds herself attending a birthday dinner that night for Alistair’s wife.

Alistair has traded his advertising agency in for an escargot farm.  While everyone is enjoying the escargot at dinner that night, Alistair drops over dead.  Before the police and medical personnel arrive, others are starting to feel sick.  Something suspicious is going on, and the police think Cait is part of it.  Can she figure out what is happening?

Cait is an interesting main character, more so than in many of the books I read.  Not only does she have her psychology background, but she has an impressive memory.  She reminds me of the classic mystery characters a bit more than most modern sleuths in this way.  And like some of those classic characters, she also has a habit of judging people based on first impressions, a weakness she recognizes and fights against over the course of the book.  At times, her commentary on the characters can be a bit much, but that’s usually when something happens to remind her about judging others.

The rest of the cast are just as interesting, with layers to them that need to be peeled back as the case unfolds.  They prove to be more complex than they first appear, which keeps Cait and us guessing as the story unfolds.

And there is an interesting tale here.  While Cait’s past with Alistair initially colors her thoughts on his death, she quickly begins to look at other motives.  That’s all I’m going to say because you need to see where the plot goes for yourself.  I was impressed at the end with the clues scattered through the story and how Cait pieced things together.  I did have a couple of niggles with the climax, but they are minor overall.

Since these books are from a smaller press, it is easy to miss them.  I know I did at first.  If you are looking for something different, it’s worth hunting down The Corpse with the Silver Tongue.


  1. Great review Mark. Your opener about trying to read them all..made me giggle. Such a true book lovers statement. This sounds like a good beginning to the series and hopefully there will be some character growth for Cait.

  2. I'm so happy to see this review, Mark. My editor turned me on to the Cathy Ace academic mysteries last year, and I had hoped to meet Cathy at Bouchercon, but our schedules never meshed. I started with The Corpse with the Ruby
    Lips, which is set in Budapest, and really enjoyed it. Nice to hear a summary and critique of the very first in the series. Time to pick up a couple more! --Kate, writing as C.T. Collier

  3. Thanks ever so much for taking the time to read this book, then write this review, Mark. Much appreciated. I can hardly believe it was published six years ago next month...and that seven more Cait Morgan Mysteries followed. How time flies!