Confession time: I checked out this book because I loved The Whole Cat and Caboodle and couldn't take it was the only published volume so far. This series is an earlier one by the same author (even though the books carry different last names for the author) and has a handful of books already out. Though I was a bit nervous about the whole 'magical cat' issue, I couldn't help but try it.
I may have ended up liking this better then the other one.
Kathleen Paulson is working in the small town of Mayville Heights, Minnesota as a temporary librarian overseeing the renovation of the town's Carnegie Library. She took the job to get away from issues back in Boston (such as a former boyfriend who turned up suddenly married) but has found herself coming to love this small town and the people inhabiting it. She's already been adopted by two residence of the town, two cats from a colony of feral cats at an abandoned house she's named Owen and Hercules. But when a visiting musician dies and she finds herself high on the suspect list, surprises concerning her cats will turn out to be so very helpful.
I can't tell you how much I enjoyed this book. As with the book I mentioned above, its the setting and really the characters I love about this book. I love the small town vibe running through this book, particularly when the main characters sees a character and remembers them through the books they check out from the library. Having been close friends with a group of librarians in a small town, I can say they do actually remember you and your reading loves if you use the library often enough. The people surrounding Kathleen are interesting, diverse, and easily remind you of people you know. They felt like new friends and I eagerly greeted each when they returned throughout the narrative. But it's Kathleen I truly fell in love with. Her thoughts, reactions, and comments really worked for me. I'll admit, I thought she handled her cats' unique abilities (or their real nature - unsure) better then I would have but they were extremely useful during a stressful time.
What really resonated with me, though, was a conversation she had with some of the local women. After spending her childhood traveling everywhere with her parents, Kathleen doesn't want to travel and have adventures. She wants to find a town, a group of people, and settle down. She wants to belong, in a way anyone who has lived in the same town all their lives can never really understand. That whole scene was the best part of the book for me and I found myself nodding along with her as she said it. I get this main character and I can't wait to see if she finds that place she wishes for.
Something that was both interesting but also makes me a bit wary was how...similar this book was to the first book of her new series. A female character whose moved to a small town from a city, whose become friends with elderly ladies as well as others, the cats of course, two men at the fringes - one of whom works with his hands and is a quiet figure who is always around to help, and food is mentioned more then I'm used to seeing in cozy mysteries that aren't focused on it. That's not to say they are carbon copies; they are not. But they are similar and you can't help but notice they were written by the same person.
But I liked this mystery. I had figured out most of the players but one caught even me by surprise and I didn't see some twists coming. That alone guaranteed it a high rating. I'm also declaring myself firmly a fan of Marcus Gordon, I can't quite put my finger on it but I really like him.
I can't wait for the next one! Happy readings, y'all!