Brought to you by OBS reviewer Jeanie
*Beware of possible spoilers*
From her Brooklyn bookstore, Darla Pettistone not only sells mysteries, but solves them, aided by her big-boned black cat, Hamlet—who has suddenly pounced into the spotlight after unleashing his fists of furry…
After a video of Darla and Hamlet performing at a martial arts tournament goes viral, the Florida chapter of the Feline Society of America invites the “Karate Kitty” to be the guest of honor at their championship cat show in Fort Lauderdale.
Upon arrival, Darla discovers that not everyone in the Sunshine State has a sunny disposition. Animal rights activists are on the march, and a cat show contestant stages his own angry protest when his special breed Minx—half Sphynx, half Manx—doesn’t win. Then Hamlet disappears—only to be found next to the dead body of the Minx owner. Now it’s up to Darla and Hamlet to take best in show and collar the killer…( Goodreads)
This book is fun! And scary, interesting, and hard to put down. Literally Murder is the 4th novel in the Black Cat Bookshop Mystery series; one does not need to read the earlier books to appreciate it, but I certainly plan to! Just enough information about Darla, her staff and friends, and of course Hamlet, the black bookstore cat, is seamlessly woven into the tale to allow the reader to join this mystery.
Darla and Hamlet have bonded sufficiently in the year since she inherited the bookstore and Hamlet to have become a bit of a team in the store, even though it seems he still runs the place when she isn’t looking. And being a team included becoming an internet hit when someone took a video of Darla and Hamlet when she performed in a martial arts tournament with Robert, one of her clerks. Unbeknownst to her, as Darla went through her karate routine, Hamlet duplicated her movements where she couldn’t see him and they were instant hits.
As a result, Darla and Hamlet, with Darla’s best friend Jacqueline “Jake” Martelli acting as Hamlet’s bodyguard, are on their way from the midst of a Brooklyn winter to sunny Florida, courtesy of the Feline Society of America. Their all-expense-paid trip was for Hamlet, the Karate Kitty, to be the guest of honor at their championship show. Darla, Hamlet, and Jake would stay a few days after the show for a much-needed vacation in the sun.
The timing perfectly coincided with the construction of a coffee bar to Pettistone’s Fine Books; Hamlet would not be disturbed by the worst of the construction and cleanup. Robert, the goth bookstore clerk would be the barista, having finished his classes successfully.
The oddest things can occur at a cat show! People can raise their very own potentially “new” special breed of cat. In this case, the proud owner of a “”Minx”, a cross between a Sphinx and a Manx, is part of the show. Animal rights activists protest outside, woefully unaware of the love and special care that cat owners give to their pampered pusses. The hijinx of unhappy people at the show, and the kidnapping of Hamlet after Jake is knocked out cold, are just the beginning. Then Hamlet is found with the body of a murder victim. If only he could talk….
Jake’s mother lives in a senior complex in sunny Florida, where missing finances have the homeowner’s association members and board pointing fingers. And the murder victim at the hotel just happens to be a board member, and more mayhem begins.
The characters are so well-defined that I’d like to meet some of them! Hamlet, of course, knows that he is the star, and his panther-like appearance adds to the mystique as he helps his mistress in her latest escapade. Jake, who left the NYPD after an on-the-job injury, is overqualified to be a PI or a bodyguard. The personalities of those in the bookstore mesh well, as do Jake and Darla. Conversations and actions are well-described to enable the reader to “watch” the action unfold. Cat owners are portrayed, for the most part, as normal, everyday people instead of as future shopping cart ladies, and the cats are shown as the intelligent, beautiful, loving creatures that they typically are.
The plot is well-planned, there are no loose ends. It is a delight to read, with just the right amounts of mystery, tension, panic, and calm. The twists and turns in the plot led this reader to consider one, then another suspect with motive and opportunity. The end, though surprising, was satisfying – and a new adventure with Hamlet can’t come too soon!
Four paws up for Literally Murder! Ali Brandon displays excellence in writing in all aspects of this mystery. I highly recommend Literally Murder to mystery lovers who enjoy literary references regarding this specialized bookstore, who love seeing cats in the sleuthing mix – sometimes with head and tail rising above the crowd as they help save the day, and who appreciate a cozy mystery that is just plain fun. I’m looking forward to delving more into this series and learning more about the collectible and contemporary book business – and Hamlet.