Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Book Review: What the Cat Dragged In by Miranda James (Cat in the Stacks Mysteries #14)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Charlie, Diesel, and the rest of the cast; interesting plot
Cons: A few wrinkles in the plot don’t quite work like they should; a few moments feel like lectures
The Bottom Line:
Old bones in attic
Open a family case
Charming characters

The Secret in the Old Attic

Sometimes, returning to a favorite series feels like getting a warm hug.  That was exactly the feeling I had when I picked up What the Cat Dragged In, the fourteenth Cat in the Stacks Mystery from Miranda James. 

If you haven’t started this series yet, it features Charlie Harris and his Maine Coon cat Diesel.  Charlie is a semi-retired librarian who still works part time at the local college’s library archives and volunteers at the local public library.  That gives him plenty of time to investigate the crimes that he comes across in his home town of Athena, Mississippi.

As this book opens, Charlie gets some surprising news – he’s just inherited his grandfather’s house.  He thought the home had left the family decades ago, but it turns out it was just under a life lease, and that tenant has just died.  Charlie’s grandparents died when he was young, but he still has some fond memories of time spent out there.  When he and Diesel are out there exploring the house, Diesel discovers a skeleton in the attic.  It is clear that the body was dug up and placed there.  Suddenly, Charlie is left wondering what this skeleton says about his family’s past.  He can’t help but dig more, especially when a modern body also turns up on the property he’s just inherited.  What will he find?

It’s always interesting when we get to learn a bit more about the main characters, especially when the series has been going on as long as this one has.  Since I love Charlie so much, I was drawn in to this mystery from the past, and there are several possibilities to what is going on that Charlie has to sift through before we get to the truth.  While the ending makes sense, I do feel it was a bit abrupt.   There were a few things in the plot that could have been ironed out to make the book stronger as a whole, but overall, I enjoyed it.

A trend I have noticed with this series over the last few books is the insertion of scenes that allow Charlie (and sometimes other characters) a chance to pass judgement over attitudes they don’t agree with.  The fact that much of the book is dealing with a mystery from the past allows that to happen again.  There are only a few of these scenes sprinkled throughout the book, so they are minor.  I’m not sure why I bristle so much at these mini-lectures, especially since I actually agree with Charlie most of the time.  Maybe it’s because these few lines feel forced into the book.

Yes, I know I’ve been nitpicking again.  Let me assure you that I really did enjoy this book overall.  And that is mostly thanks to the characters.  I wouldn’t be on book fourteen of a series if I didn’t love the characters, and it was wonderful to spend time around them again.  All the regulars and a couple of the supporting players make appearances, and being in their presence again is fabulous.  Diesel continues to steal the show with his antics, although Ramses, the kitten that Charlie got a few books back, is becoming more charming with every book as well.

Spending time with these characters is always wonderful, and I was smiling as I read What the Cat Dragged In.  Fans of the series will be delighted to crack the spine of this book.

Check out the rest of the Cat in the Stacks Mysteries.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoyed this book too though I don't disagree about the lectures. That didn't bother me too much in this one but there are a number of series that just set my teeth on edge with the lecturing.