The Cat, the Collector, and the Killer
A Cats in Trouble Mystery, Book #8
By Leann Sweeney
Author Website: leannsweeney.com
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
Jillian Hart and police chief Tom Stewart are enjoying peaceful, newly wedded bliss in Mercy, South Carolina, until a woman is found wandering the streets one night. She’s in her night clothes, disoriented, and carrying a kitten in a tote bag. A search of the woman’s house reveals many more cats, a maze of cardboard boxes—and a dead man.
Although the evidence suggests the frail woman is the killer, Jillian doesn’t believe she’s capable of such a crime. The dead man had many enemies in town, which means finding the real murderer may prove to be its own cat and mouse game…(Goodreads)
This is a marvelous addition to the Cat’s in Trouble Mystery series! Each one is better than the last, and if you have missed part of the series, it is easy to jump into this one with both feet and enjoy it.
As a cat lover and a woman who has a knack to listen to others and respond with kindness, Jillian Hart is often invited into interesting situations. Between those and his job, there are times that newlyweds Jillian and her hubby, Police Chief Tom Steward are hard-pressed to find time together. Jillian volunteers frequently at the local cat sanctuary operated by Shawn, and the life of most police chiefs in small towns is not their own when there are crises.
Jillian went with Shawn to the home of a lady who had several cats that were loved, typically well-cared for, and kept inside. The lady, in her 50’s, had recently lost some of her mental abilities. A neighbor called Tom when she was unable to get through to the county animal control officer; The neighbor who had called Shawn said the cats belonging to the lady, Minnie, had been loose in the yard.
When Shawn and Jillian arrived at Minnie’s, the back porch door was open and the house door ajar; cats were wandering in the yard that were not among those that Minnie had had from Shawn’s shelter. Minnie ordered and kept cat food and cat litter used by her pets, but they found a huge quantity of shipping boxes that was more than just normal pet supplies. Boxes were stacked everywhere in the house. Minnie was nowhere to be found. Shawn found the body of a dead man in the house, who was identified only when the police arrived.
When Jillian had contacted Tom about the dead body, she learned that Minnie had been found wandering the street in her nightgown, carrying a tote bag. The hospital, where she was taken for a mental health check, learned she had a kitten in her tote and she wouldn’t relinquish it. Tom sent Jillian to meet Minnie and see if she could get the kitten. Jillian and Minnie bonded quickly with their love of cats, and Minnie allowed Jillian to take the adorable tuxedo kitten, Otto, home where she would care for him for Minnie. As Jillian was leaving, Minnie held out her wrists to the hospital staff in her room to put on the ‘cuffs, thinking she had killed the man in her house.
Heartache, furry snuggles, suspense and joy are woven through each page of The Cat, the Collector, and the Killer. I loved every minute of it, captivated from the very beginning until the final page, wondering how it was over so quickly!
Most of the characters, new and old, are warm, appealing and likable. Seeing the activities through Jillian’s eyes, she is the best known and most engaging. Shawn, Jillian’s step-daughter Kara, best friend/ Detective Candace, and Tom are almost as familiar. Minnie, her doctor, family members, and various potential suspects are also very well portrayed. The author writes lively, realistic dialogue. The cats, of course, are each unique, and take co-star billing in this tale, and I could picture them and their behaviors even as I snuggled up with my own while reading.
The plot was intriguing, with twists and u-turns that kept me challenged. The novel moved along at an even pace, and kept my attention throughout. There is the element of emotions driving some scenes, action in others. It was hard for me to settle on a motive, much less sort through the possible suspects and pick out just one. The bad guy/ gal definitely had me on my toes this time, and I was surprised when finding who he or she really was. All loose ends were tied up at the conclusion, and the resolution was heartwarming and satisfying.
The sub-genre of cozy mysteries this reader enjoys the most is that of pets, primarily cats. There are some cozy cat mysteries that grab my heart; this is one of a handful of series in which I want to return to not only to see how the characters are, but also the cats! The author’s knowledge of and love for cats as well as people shines through and her talent for writing is outstanding. It was interesting to read about care for the cat with diabetes, and I learned something I hadn’t known when caring for two cats with it. I highly recommend The Cat, the Collector, and the Killer to those who enjoy well-written, engaging cozy mysteries that include cats, delightful characters, and a challenging plot.