Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Great characters and mystery
The Bottom Line:
A nasty playwright
Gives us another chance to
Visit these great friends
File Under A for Absorbing
In my dreams, I have all day to sit and read whatever I want (and I don’t get distracted by the internet, TV, or anything else). As a result, I am up to date on all the books I want to read. Then reality hits again and I am left trying to catch up on series I kept meaning to get to. Which brings me to just now finally reading File M for Murder. I may be a couple years behind on this series, but I’m so glad I’m catching up now.
If you are new to this particular series, our sleuth is Charlie Harris, a semi-retired librarian. He works part time at the college in his home town of Athena, Mississippi while also volunteering at the local public library. Oh, and Charlie also has Diesel, a Maine coon cat who goes everywhere with him.
Charlie is delighted to have his daughter, Laura, in town for a semester as a visiting drama instructor at Athena College. He’s less thrilled to find out that she has this job thanks to Connor Lawton, a successful playwright who is the writer in residence at the college for the year. Connor is a complete and total jerk who lacks any sense of tack or decorum, which really rubs against the southern manners that Charlie was raised with.
Things don’t get better as the semester starts. In fact, in just a couple of weeks, Connor has managed to alienate just about everyone he’s come in contact with. Still, it is a shock when Laura finds Connor murdered in his apartment. Which of the people he’s angered committed the deed?
In the last book, we got to meet Charlie’s grown son, Sean, and now we get to see Laura. It was nice to see her and learn more about Charlie through watching the two of them interact. Sean is back as well, and I liked seeing how that relationship has grown since the last book. Charlie has a couple of boarders, and both of them are back and plenty of fun, although I do wish we’d gotten to see a little bit more of Justin. However, there really is a large supporting cast, and it’s hard to get everyone page time without slowing down the story.
And the story never lags. While the murder happens later than in many books I read, the time is well used setting up tension, suspects, and motive, so when the murder does happen, we are off trying to figure out who did it. I was hooked the entire time, and I had no clue who the killer was under Charlie put the pieces together in the end. I had to marvel at just how well everything fit together, too.
Of course, the story is helped along by the suspects, who are as strong as the series regulars. In fact, I could easily have seen any of them being guilty at one point or another in the story.
Then there’s Diesel. Yes, he’s a cat, but in many ways he’s the star of the series, and he certainly steals any scene he is in, which is most of them. Because of my allergies, I’ve never been a big cat person, but I absolutely love him.
I’m so glad I’m catching up on the Cat in the Stacks series this year. If they continue to be as good as File M for Murder, I’ve got many more great mysteries ahead of me.
If you need to read more books in this series as well, here are the rest of the Cat in the Stacks Mysteries in order.