Claws of Action
Cat Lady Mystery #4
By Linda Reilly
Author’s website: lindasreilly.com
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
The only thing that could make the High Cliff Shelter for
Cats even cozier is a reading room where kids can snuggle up with a furry
feline and a book. But as Lara and Aunt Fran prepare for the reading nook’s
official opening, the health inspector in their New Hampshire town, Evonda
Fray, decrees that the shelter qualifies as a “cat café,” thanks to the free
snacks it serves to visitors—and that it must be shut down.
When Evonda’s body is found in her car clutching a copy of the cease-and-desist order, suspicion naturally falls on Lara and Aunt Fran. But there’s a whole litter of potential culprits, including a tenant in one of Evonda’s buildings who’d been ordered to give up his rescue cat, a disgruntled daughter-in-law, and more. Now Lara—with some help from her aunt and her spirit cat, Blue—has to pin the tail on the right suspect.
I enjoyed this latest offering in the Cat Lady Mystery series! Life at the High Cliff Shelter for Cats offers an increasingly wonderful and professional service to the community of Whisker Jog, New Hampshire. Lara, a watercolor painter and cat lover, came to help Aunt Fran when she needed to have both knees replaced and had more cats than she could care for in her condition. Since then, Fran had her surgeries, Lara has helped establish the cage-free cat shelter, and there are more happy cat owners in Whisker Jog.
Renovations to add a reading room to the shelter are complete, with the first scheduled Read to a Cat day imminent and fully booked. It is a relatively new concept at shelters, the idea given to Lara when a child sneaked in one day with a book, determined to read to a cat. Their grand opening is scheduled. Until trouble walked in the shelter in the form of a health inspector, also known as Hurricane Evonda.
Evonda Fray is a health inspector who heard that High Cliff Shelter is a cat café. Fran and Lara do offer refreshments at no charge to visitors on adoption days, but beverages and cookies is at the option of the visitor. Not to be deterred, she issues them a citation for operating a cat café without a license and will obtain and deliver a cease and desist order the next day.
Gideon, Lara’s boyfriend and an attorney, advises them on the matter. If she tries to shut them down, he will file a “cause of action” and worst case, they can stop serving refreshments. While Gideon is there, Brian, a young man, arrives with his cat in a carrier. The new owner of his apartment building is none other than Evonda Fray. Despite his lease that allows him to have his older cat who sleeps most of the time, she claims the cat is damaging the place and he must get rid of the cat or she will. After pleading his case, Lara and Fran will keep Smuggles until Brian finds a cat-friendly apartment and moves.
The next morning, Evonda Fray is found dead in her car outside her home. The paperwork to get the cease and desist order for the shelter is clutched in one hand. As a result, Fran and Lara have to go to the police station to be questioned.
One suspect is the owner of Smuggles, Brian. He admits to having had run after Mrs. Fray’s car as she left the apartment building and sticking his hands in the back, driver’s side window that was open. Knowing his fingerprints would be found, he could be picked up for her murder, and asked if they would keep his beloved cat however long it takes. When cat hairs similar to those of two of the shelter’s cats are found in the back seat of Mrs. Fray’s car, where the killer had been waiting for her.
The characters are well-defined and likable, with few exceptions. Lara and Fran are delightful ladies, and I’m glad that they are in this business venture together. I also enjoy Lara’s best friend from childhood, Sherry. Evonda Fray loved birds, especially black birds, but had very few friends except for the remaining three of the “four old crows”, and her son Tim.
Plot twists continue to change who the suspects might be. I wanted to believe the innocence of those that Lara was sure of, despite some of the evidence that popped up. When it appeared that Lara might be suspect, at least according to the state police, things get heated and Lara just might choose to forget that she won’t ask a few questions around town. Lara also has help from Blue, a beautiful, mysterious ragdoll cat that only she has been able to see since childhood. Blue plays a very special part this time! I had a good idea who the bad guy was early on but couldn’t come up with the motive or determine the complexity. Time revealed more little clues that I was surprised nobody saw. There are some surprises, however, and all loose ends are tied up at the end. I highly recommend this cozy mystery and series! It just keeps getting better and better!
*OBS would like to thank the publisher for supplying a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review*