Brought to you by OBS reviewer Jeanie
*Beware of Spoilers*
With the help of her rescue cat, Eddie, librarian Minnie Hamilton is driving a bookmobile based in the resort town of Chilson, Michigan. But she’d better keep both hands on the wheel, because it’s going to be a bumpy ride …
Eddie followed Minnie home one day, and now she can’t seem to shake the furry little shadow. But in spite of her efforts to contain her new pal, the tabby sneaks out and trails her all the way to the bookmobile on its maiden voyage. Before she knows it, her slinky stowaway becomes her cat co-pilot!
Minnie and Eddie’s first day visiting readers around the county seems to pass without trouble—until Eddie darts outside at the last stop and leads her to the body of a local man who’s reached his final chapter.
Initially, Minnie is ready to let the police handle this case, but Eddie seems to smell a rat. Together, they’ll work to find the killer—because a good librarian always knows when justice is overdue. (From back cover of book and Goodreads)
Lending a Paw is the premier book of the Bookmobile Cat Mystery series, and it completely lives up to its name. Minnie is the Assistant Director of the library in a small town in Michigan named Chilson. There were many areas in the county that were too far for the patrons to drive to the library from. Minnie brainstormed, researched, and sought out funding for a Bookmobile. Her best friend from childhood days, when her parents sent her to Chilson to spend the summers with her Aunt Frances, who owned and managed a Bed and Breakfast. Stan Larabee, the benefactor of the bookmobile, had become a close friend of Minnie through the year of preparation.
Minnie had spent winters at Aunt Frances’ B&B. Eddie joined her that summer while she lived on a houseboat that she purchased and moored nearby. Eddie – well, Eddie was a silver tabby cat who had followed Minnie home one day and adopted her. He seemed to be a very perceptive cat, frequently trying to lead Minnie to clues throughout the book (Mrrrr!). Eddie even tried to initiate her rescue when she was discovered seeking clues where she shouldn’t have been, and was gagged and tied up by the murderer.
In spite of the dire predictions and protests of Stephen, the Director, the bookmobile is purchased, stocked, and completely prepared for its “maiden voyage”. I could immediately feel a bond with Minnie – her love of books and reading, a pet owner, living in a small town in Michigan, where I had grown up – it doesn’t get much better than that! As the day of the maiden voyage unfolded, I empathized with Minnie’s challenges, one on top of another, one of those “this could only happen to me” days. Among the challenges was that Eddie slipped out of the house and followed her to her car when on her way to work – Eddie insisted on going on the bookmobile with Minnie, and there was no time to take the pet back to the houseboat and still make it to the library on time. The volunteer who was to accompany Minnie had a family emergency and had to leave town quickly. The maiden voyage already had two “rules” broken before Minnie reviewed the checklist and put the key in the ignition – as Stephen wanted two people on board at any time, and would have been furious that a cat was along for the ride. Many of the patrons, particularly the children, were thrilled to find a cat on board, and Minnie had to request that they not tell ANYBODY about Eddie. At the end of the day, Eddie demanded the stop that had been fatal to Minnie’s friend and mentor, Stan. Minnie found the murdered body of her friend behind an abandoned farmhouse.
Holly, one of the library staff, is also a friend of Minnie’s. She was a distant cousin of the murdered man and she had tried unsuccessfully to borrow money from him for a downpayment on a home for her husband, herself, and her children. Unfortunately this put her on the short list of murder suspects. Kristen is also a distant relative of Stan, but the only interaction she usually had with him was when he dined at her upscale restaurant.
Feeling that the detectives were not working quickly enough to get justice for Stan or let Holly off the hook, Minnie began asking questions and looking about. Minnie learned many secrets of small town families, including Stan’s and her own. She caused no end of trouble to herself, including getting shot at, until being discovered by the murderer, bound, and gagged inside an old barn for many long hours.
I absolutely loved this book, and can’t wait for the next one in the series, Tailing a Tabby! The story moved along quickly, and immediately invites the reader to join life in Chilson. One can picture Eddie and his unusual behavior, and enjoy watching the children as well as the seniors in the assisted care facility hold Eddie as if he was theirs for just a few moments. What is unusual is that there was nothing I would consider changing, as I truly enjoyed the entire tale, cover to cover.
I would highly recommend this cozy mystery to teens, young adults and adults who enjoy cats, libraries, or small town life. The characters are well-developed, and the small town and surrounding areas were planned and described well. Using a bookmobile instead of the inside of the library is a unique setting, and one can see on Ms. Cass’ web site how she did much of her “research” to authenticate the feel of the oversize vehicle. Her website also her real-life Eddie – how awesome is that? Of course, I’m sure that Eddie co-read and approved all of his lines…Laurie Cass has penned an excellent first book in this new series!