5 star rating
Last Licks
A Sunny and Shadow Mystery, Book #3
By Claire Donally
ISBN# 9780425252550

Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie


last-licks-sunny-and-shadow-claire-donnallySniffing out a murderer…

When Sunny Coolidge’s curmudgeonly boss, Oliver Barnstable, lands in rehab after breaking his leg, Sunny is stuck shuttling between their offices in Kittery Harbor, Maine, and the facility where Ollie is recuperating. And if putting up with temper tantrums from her boss wasn’t enough, his rehab roommate, Gardner Scatterwell, is a shameless flirt.

But when Scatterwell dies unexpectedly in the night, Ollie is convinced it wasn’t from natural causes. He gives Sunny a new assignment—find out who killed the old tomcat.

And speaking of cats, Shadow, Sunny’s feline partner in crime, takes a peculiar interest in the rehab’s resident angel of death—a calico cat called Portia, with an uncanny talent for cozying up to patients right before they pass away. Together, Sunny and Shadow will have to nose out clues to discover if Portia’s jinx had anything to do with Gardner’s passing—or if all his catting around finally got him fixed. (Goodreads)


Sunny is the epitome of a good daughter and employee.  She lives with her father, Mike, having had moved home to help with his needs while he recovered from a heart attack.  Her return home also required a new job, as she was laid off from her NYC job while at her father’s.  Her charming little Maine hometown was long on friendliness but sadly short on gainful employment.  Her grumpy boss,  Oliver Barnstable, becomes a patient at Bridgewater Hall, a “high-end” rehab and nursing home, while recovering from a broken leg and subsequent surgery.  For a roommate, Ollie ends up with Gardner Scatterwell, one of Mike’s former  band members from his younger days.  Having no evident family or friends, Ollie has Sunny deliver any work-related documents to him and pick up anything to be returned to the office.  While there, she meets Portia, one of the ‘pet therapy’ cats at Bridgewater, and her litter mate, Patrick. It is rumored that if Portia spends time with a resident, that resident dies soon after.  Does Portia have a special “knowing”, or is she just a good gal with a bad cat rep?

A panicked 4 AM phone call from Barnstable sends Sunny and her father speeding into the night towards the rehab.  Gardner is dead, and Ollie is certain that he was murdered.  In his bed, in the same room, where the perp assumed that Ollie slept soundly.  Sheriff Frank Nesbit, who certainly wouldn’t win any Andy Griffith hometown leader’s award, is more concerned with glad handing, future votes, and lack of crime news spin than with looking for an actual murderer.  He’s in denial that it could occur in ‘his’ county.

Ollie, with the agreement of Sheriff Nesbit, adds a new item on Sunny’s job description. Sunny will be allowed to ask questions and review information to see if, and how, Gardner might really have been murdered.  Sheriff Nesbit volunteers Will Price, a town constable and Sunny’s gentleman friend, to help Sunny to make her information-gathering a bit smoother, and so he will know what is going on at all times.  Mike is also involved in the investigation, since he was a friend of Gardner’s back in the day, knows most people in Kittery Harbor, and wants to keep his daughter safe.  He also has a sharp mind and healthy curiosity that makes him a valuable ally and partner-in-crime-stopping.  What they find is that, in spite of health challenges faced by Gardner and by the long-term care residents in the nursing home wing, there was a higher-than-average number of deaths in Bridgewater Hall.  There is no shortage of people who might have been upset with Gardner.  Upset enough to kill him, though?  Or is his death part of a bigger problem at Bridgewater?

Shadow, Sunny’s cat, is adorably precocious, having learned the valuable skill of being able to escape from the house.  He is still working on the even more valuable skill of being able to get back in the house safely.  He is aloofly jealous of Sunny’s time, until she comes home from Bridgewater Hall with the scent of another cat on her.  The most enticing female feline aroma he has ever sniffed was all over Sunny’s clothes.  Will he find a way to find out who this enchanting feline might be?

This is an interesting, well-written novel, with enough clues and plot twists to keep this cozy crazy cat lady content.  The setting and action are so well-described that I felt as if I were there, yet not so defined that my imagination had no room to embellish.  Character development is very good; those who are important to the plot are well-defined.  Mike, Sunny, Will, and even Ollie have their own charm.  The staff at Bridgewater Hall also has interesting quirks, some of whom are sufficiently creepy to keep me from wanting to have to spend time there.  Even the four-legged characters – Shadow, Portia, and Patrick – could romp from the pages and come to visit.  The cover art is terrific, a great portrayal of the catsonalities inside and would definitely attract my attention even if I knew nothing about the book.

Overall, this is an enjoyable book with an irresistible cast of characters!   Last Licks can be read as a stand-alone novel, as I have not yet had the catnip of reading the first two.  This can be read and enjoyed by young adults and adults of any age who enjoy a well-crafted cozy mystery that includes both cats and what Shadow calls people, ‘two-legs’.  I highly recommend this Sunny and Shadow mystery, and hope that this series will be around for a long time!

*OBS would like to thank the publisher for supplying a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review as a part of their on-going blog tour*