A Troubling Tail
Bookmobile Cat Mystery #11
By Laurie Cass
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
When the owner of a local candy store is murdered, librarian Minnie Hamilton and her rescue cat, Eddie, prepare to find the sweet spot to solve a crime.
The charming town of Chilson, Michigan is beautiful in the spring, and local librarian Minnie and her cat Eddie are delivering great reads far and wide on one of the first warm days of the year. But a chill sweeps through them when they discover that one of their favorite patrons, the local candy store owner, has been found murdered. Although Minnie can’t understand who could have a motive to murder such a kind man, she determines that the sticky problem isn’t hers to solve.
However, when rumors start flying around town and the police have no leads, Minnie decides to throw her investigative hat into the ring. The more Minnie investigates, the less certain she is that the victim’s past is as wholesome as his reputation. But Minnie has plenty of experience unearthing inconvenient truths, and she and Eddie won’t rest until they determine how the candy store owner met his bitter end. (from Goodreads)
I always look forward to the next episode of this series from the time I turn the last page on the prior one, and this one is even better than the last. Minnie is one of the most positive protagonists I have the pleasure to read, and her cat, Eddie, is one of the finest and most loyal felines in current cozy mystery series. The setting, in northwest lower Michigan, is gorgeous with wonderful late spring descriptions. The mystery is fresh and intriguing, and kept me guessing throughout.
Minnie and fiancé Rafe both have demanding jobs yet always carve out time for themselves and their friends. Rafe is a middle school principal, and Minnie is the assistant library director in Chilson. Since the addition of the bookmobile, she knows she has the best job in the world. The bookmobile has been very successful, and continues to expand. I am fascinated by some of the items they now loan out!
Minnie has a special project from the library board president. Trent, a retired attorney and now president of the board, retrofitted a heavy, vintage, one-speed bicycle with coaster brakes into a book bike, with boxes built to carry materials to places such as assisted living facilities. It seems too heavy for use even before any books are stocked. It was designed and painted with the best of intentions, so she must prepare a presentation for its use for the next board meeting.
Minnie and Hunter, the other bookmobile driver, have a new stop at an elementary school. The children are excited about seeing Eddie, the famous bookmobile cat. One of the boys taunted her into turning the radio on that she never used. When she finally found a station, they learned of a police situation in Chilson. Whippy, owner of the family-owned Henike’s Candy Emporium, had been found dead in the store. After the news alert, Leah, one of the teachers, fainted. Later, Leah said she simply hadn’t had breakfast that morning, but still seemed. . . off.
Most of Chilson was saddened at the loss of Whippy; he had worked in that shop since learning the ropes from his father. He was kind to everyone, generous with products, and even played Santa Claus at Christmas time. It was even more grievous when they learned Whippy had been murdered.
Minnie had helped solve several murders since moving to Chilson, but she didn’t know anyone closely associated with the Henike family. Then, a couple of Minnie’s new friends received death threats. Their notes had the same characteristics as the threat found in the candy shop office after Whippy’s murder. Almost everyone who knew Toby, the young man who was accused of the murder, knew he couldn’t do it. When someone asked for Minnie’s help finding the killer, she couldn’t say no.
The characters are brought to life through realistic conversations and actions. Minnie, Eddie, and Rafe are my favorites. Perhaps because Minnie and I share some traits, including being cat lovers, it is easy to appreciate her. Eddie is an extraordinary cat who also has the usual feline traits. The author clearly has been owned by cats, as Eddie perfectly demonstrates some of the “usual” feline behavior. He is fiercely loyal to Minnie, would do anything to protect her, and accompanied her when she sought solutions to murders. Rafe is the perfect man for Minnie in so many ways, sharing witty banter, love, and loyalty. He also understood what many guys wouldn’t – such as why the change of paint colors on the boarding house her aunt used to own was so discombobulating.
This was a challenging mystery. One of the friends receiving a death threat was certain who sent it but the police already cleared them, while another had absolutely no idea. There seemed little, if anything, connecting them. The killer was clever in covering their tracks, but they didn’t know Minnie was cleverer. I was surprised, however, at who the killer was, for reasons I can’t say without giving it away. I was very pleased with the outcome of each situation in this novel, and am already looking forward to the next mystery! I highly recommend this novel and series!