Thursday, February 27, 2014

Book Review: Murder Past Due by Miranda James (Cat in the Stacks Mysteries #1)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Great characters and a well plotted, twisty mystery
Cons: None
The Bottom Line:
Author comes home, dies
Leading to plot with great twists
Characters you’ll love

Librarian’s Quiet Life Shattered by Murder

Every so often, I pull a book of my shelves that’s been sitting and collecting dust for no good reason.  Murder Past Due is one such book.  I’ve heard nothing but great things about the series, and I bought the book when it first came out, yet I finally got around to reading the book.  The praise I’ve heard for the series is very well deserved.

The series stars Charlie Harris, a widow who has moved back to his home town of Athena, Mississippi and into the house he inherited from his aunt.  He works part time as the archivist at the local college’s library.  He’s also well known for his rescued Maine coon cat, Diesel; a cat that goes almost everywhere with him.

Of all the people from his past Charlie never wanted to see again, Godfrey Priest topped the list.  The guy was a complete jerk when they knew each other in high school and college, and his status as a best selling thriller author has done nothing to deflate his raging ego.  Yet Godfrey is back in town and appearing at the local college where Charlie works.

But with Godfrey’s return, secrets start coming out of the wood work.  Then, Charlie finds Godfrey dead in his hotel room.  With the investigation circling around Charlie’s boarder, the son of an old friend, Charlie starts poking around.  Still, it won’t be easy to find the killer of a guy no one seems to have liked.  Can Charlie do it?

Sometimes, I complain about a book where the plot didn’t feel like it was really moving forward.  That wasn’t the case here.  In fact, it felt like this book had more twists in the first 100 pages than some books do over the length of the entire story.  While the pace did settle down a little as the story progressed, there were still some good twists and reveals in the second half.  The clues were well planted, and I found myself marveling at how things fit together at the end.

While this may be the first book in the series, it is obviously not the author’s first novel.  (Miranda James is a pen name for Dean James, who has published books under his own name as well as a couple of pen names.)  I say that because the characters were strong.  While Godfrey didn’t have much page time, his appearances were memorable.  I felt for the rest of the cast as the story progressed.  These were real people, and I can’t wait to spend more time with them in the near future.

And yes, Diesel is more a part of things than I have mentioned so far.  Even though he’s a cat, he’s quite a character in his own right.  At times, I found his behavior a bit over the top, but that was a minor issue for me.  I did like him and look forward to reading more about him along with the human characters in future books.

Obviously, I was well past due to read Murder Past Due.  If you’ve been putting off starting this great series, stop making the same mistake I did.  You’ll enjoy every second with Charlie, Diesel, and the rest of their friends.

And you can bet I will be reading the rest of the Cat in the Stacks mysteries in order.

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