Brought to you by OBS reviewer Jeanie
When she’s not dreaming up irresistible dessert bars for her Minneapolis treatery, Bar None, Charity “Chase” Oliver is running after her cat, Quincy—a tubby tabby with a gift for sniffing out edibles. But what happens when this cat burglar leads Chase to the scene of a real crime?
The jig is up for Chase’s adorable plus-size cat, Quincy. His new vet says “diet”—that means no more cherry cheesecake bars. From now on he gets low-calorie kibble only. But one taste of the stuff is all it takes to drive him in search of better things. Quincy’s escape is the last thing Chase needs after the nasty run-in she has with underhanded business rival Gabe Naughtly.
Chase tracks Quincy down in a neighbor’s kitchen, where he’s devouring a meatloaf, unaware of the much more serious crime he’s stumbled upon. Gabe’s corpse is lying on the kitchen floor, and when Chase is discovered at the murder scene, she becomes suspect number one. Now, with a little help from her friends—both human and feline—she’ll have to catch the real killer or wind up behind bars that aren’t so sweet. (from Goodreads)
I really enjoyed Fat Cat at Large by Janet Cantrell! It is the first book in a new series, A Fat Cat Mystery. One of the reasons I enjoyed it just from the title and the cover art is that two of our cats are a bit … plus sized, who never seem to eat more than the others but must be chowing down on dry kibble while we are sleeping. Svelte, in-shape kitties are great, and I do have a couple of those, too. But I can empathize with poor Quincy, the sweet boy in the book, who doesn’t like diet food any more than I do.
Chase and her adopted grandmother/ mother, Anna, are co-owners of a delightful, unique dessert bar shop called Bar None. They make the best treat bars in town, a college town with hundreds of hungry students and their visiting families. Take a look at the creative front cover with samples of the offerings along with Quincy. Aah, now we see why he finds diet food so hard on the palate with all of those awesome, chocolaty treats in the shop!
As the story opens, a visit to the vet brings about changes and challenges for Quincy and Charity “Chase” Oliver. Concerned that Quincy could become diabetic, handsome and personable Dr. Ramos puts Quincy on a diet, complete with special food and special treats. Quincy immediately becomes like Morris, the Finicky Cat, keeping his lips zipped.
Quincy escapes from their apartment above the shop and Chase “chases” him, finding him inside the open door of a condo. Quincy was chowing down on meatloaf, while her nemesis, Gabe Naughtly lay on the floor. Dead. Which Chase finds out only when he doesn’t respond so she rolls him over and finds a knife stuck in his chest. She grabbed the knife until realizing her error, and her fingerprints were the only ones the police later found on it. Unfortunately, there was more than one witness to the angry words that Chase and Gabe exchanged earlier that day in the Bar None.
Chase’s troubles only get worse from there. Chase and Anna’s two employees are always having spats in front of customers. Shaun, the reason that Chase returned home to Minnesota, seems to have transplanted himself into her turf. Discrepancies are found in the books, showing the cash drawer has been coming up short on more than one occasion. Then, bodies begin to stack up, and there is no shortage of suspects. The police seem to be focusing primarily on Chase, however, as her beloved Quincy continues to lead her to the bodies in his quest for non-diet food. Will she soon need the legal services of her best friend, Anna’s granddaughter Julie, who recently passed the bar?
Character development is excellent, with three-dimensional personalities and a neighborhood shop that is so realistic that one almost expects to walk down the block to the Bar None for a box of bars to take to their office, or home for dinner guests. The start-up of a business, as well as the creativity of the dessert chefs, shows some of the realities of being a small business owner – the good, the fun, and the … challenging.
Cat owners will definitely appreciate Quincy for the priceless pet that he is, as Quincy is so much like cats that many of us have known and loved. How many pet owners have purchased special foods for their pets for various health conditions only to find their mouths zipped shut, yet pestering for people food during meal time? Or wandered through their neighborhood calling their cat’s name, looking in trees and bushes?
The plot is satisfying, with enough suspects and redirects to keep a seasoned cozy reader thinking – even when I thought I knew who the killer might be, I failed to find a motive. It is up to Chase and the police to “follow the evidence” to the real killer or Chase won’t be able to bake bars any longer; she’ll be behind bars.
Four paws up for Janet Cantrell’s Fat Cat at Large! I highly recommend this for cozy readers of all ages who are fans of cats who like their mystery sweetened with baked goods and female sleuths with the hope of romance. It is well worth the read.