Claws for Concern
Cat in the Stacks Mystery, Book #9
By Miranda James
Author Website: Catinthestacks(.)com
Charlie Harris is busy enjoying his new grandson when a mysterious man with a connection to Charlie’s family starts visiting the library, bringing with him troubling questions about an unsolved murder…
Charlie may be a proud new grandfather, but he and Diesel still have work to do at Athena College and the small Mississippi town’s public library. He’s too busy to deal with true-crime writer Jack Pemberton, who wants Charlie as the subject of his latest book–and who won’t take no for an answer.
A more appealing proposition for Charlie is spending time helping a kind, elderly man navigate the library’s genealogical database. But he’s shocked when he learns that the visitor’s search is focused on a member of his own family: his late aunt’s husband.
Charlie befriends the man and considers inviting him to stay in his home, but he’s soon given reason to question that notion. Jack is certain that Charlie’s new houseguest was involved in a shocking homicide that took place years ago in a small town near Athena. As this cold case heats up, Charlie and Diesel have to uncover a killer who may already be too close to home… (Amazon)
Claws for Concern is a light, comfortable read, full of Southern Charm. Diving into the story is akin to sitting on the porch visiting with old friends with an ice cold glass of sweet tee never out of reach.
Since Claws for Concern is the ninth book in the Cat in the Stacks Mystery series, the characters are well developed and familiar. I do think it can be read as a standalone but readers benefit from having the history that the previous books provide. In this installment, we find Charlie, with Diesel the cat never far from his side, enamored with his new grandson, going about his daily life with friends and family. Charlie is a bit surprised when true crime writer Jack reaches out to collaborate on a book about Charlie’s previous investigations. Even more surprising, Charlie learns that a new library patron is related to him through marriage. He wants to help Bill but is hesitant when he learns that Bill was the prime suspect in a quadruple homicide that occurred twenty years ago. When Bill is injured in a hit and run, Charlie cannot help but think that the accident is related to the cold case. With the help of Jack and Diesel, Charlie does all that he can to get to the truth.
I adore Charlie and Diesel, and I am never unhappy reading their adventures, but Claws for Concern plods along at a slow pace. The mystery is not even brought into the story until halfway through the book. To that point, the book details Charlie’s day to day life, which might be just fine for longtime fans, but new readers might find it tedious. Once Charlie gets into the cold murder case, the pace picks up a bit, but there is no danger or urgency involved in the investigation to make it truly compelling. I had a hard time connecting with Bill, and the suspect pool is quite small, making the culprit rather obvious. I do like the addition of Jack to the investigation. I think he and Charlie collaborate well. Of course, Diesel is always a treat, but I do not remember him not staying at home alone in the past. Why does he need a babysitter? Charlie is in his mid-fifties, but he comes across much older this time around. Granted he is a throwback to a gentler era, which I enjoy, but still.
Overall, I liked Claws for Concern. It is not the strongest book in the series but still enjoyable, especially for long time devotees to the series. I recommend it to readers who enjoy the small town Southern setting, a precocious cat, and a male protagonist.
*OBS would like to thank the publisher for supplying a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review*