The Cat, the Vagabond, and the Victim
A Cats in Trouble Mystery #6
By Leann Sweeney
ISBN 0451415426 (ISBN13: 9780451415424)
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
When Clyde the cat travels two hundred miles back home only to find his former owner dead, the story makes national news. While everyone seems eager to tell Clyde’s incredible tale, someone needs to step up to care for him. Because the media attention is creating chaos at the local shelter, cat quilter Jillian Hart agrees to foster the loyal orange tabby, hoping his location is kept secret.
But while the media circus around Clyde continues, Jillian learns the real story behind his owner’s death—he was murdered. Why would an elderly man already dying from a serious illness become a murder victim? As the local police search for an answer, Clyde makes another escape. Jillian is drawn into the case when she finds Clyde has returned to his home again—and he’s found another body. When the motive behind these murders is finally revealed, Jillian understands Clyde is in danger of becoming the next victim, and she must help find the killer before the claws really come out.…(From Goodreads)
This cozy mystery is a blast! I so enjoyed it, and always look forward to the next new release in the series. The characters are so beautifully defined, and we learn something new about Jillian every time. The mystery is clever, hard for the reader to figure out whodunit. One thing I like is how, other than her loved ones, the cats are the most important beings to Jillian. Another is how the author applies her knowledge of cats as easily Jillian designs and makes as the quilts for cats. Speaking of her loved ones, she and Tom Stewart, a PI and security expert, have a wonderful secret to share, but need to find the perfect time. It might just be delayed, as he is hired on as a consultant to the Mercy PD when the chief has to go out of town.
Jillian helps the local animal sanctuary in many ways, one of them fostering cats awaiting placement. This time, Jillian and her three rescue cats will host Clyde, a cat who has traveled over 200 miles to return to the owner he loves. Clyde’s owner had cancer, and sent him to live with his sister Millicent. One day the beautiful orange tabby got out of the house and found his way back to Norm Jeffrey’s home in Mercy, SC, and sat outside, crying so loudly that a neighbor made calls to see what was happening. Sadly, Clyde was too late, for when the wellness check was done on the home, Norm had passed away. Shawn and Allison, owners of Mercy Animal Sanctuary, asked Jillian to take Clyde in until his new owner in the family would be determined.
At the request of Candace, a deputy and Jillian’s best friend, gives televised interviews that highlight the faithfulness of this beautiful cat. Candace and Tom have news they hope to release without fanfare beneath the Clyde’s story; Norm, his beloved owner,was murdered. Even though this gentle cat gets along well with Jillian’s, it is clear his heart is somewhere else, especially when he escapes in spite of the careful measures Jillian takes.
Candace and Tom (and Jillian!) have the most challenging case to date, especially when the second body turns up, and someone tries to kidnap Clyde. Someone is willing to go to any lengths, including bypassing the elaborate security system at Jillian’s. As they meet and talk with family members, there are sufficient decades-long grudges and secrets among family members to increase the suspect list. What a convoluted cast of criminals!
Jillian is definitely my favorite character. She calls cats her friends, and knows much about their emotional and behavioral health. Her stepdaughter, Kara, boyfriend, Tom, and his son, Finn, and best friend Candace are a masterful complement of folks who are like a family. With the exception of LouAnn Rafferty, Mr. Jeffrey’s cousin, I didn’t know who to consider safe among Norm’s family. They were as unusual as Jillian’s loved ones are close-knit.
This is an elaborate mystery with plot twists that make it a fast-paced, compelling novel. Another another body is found in Norm’s house, so his sister, nephew, and cousins, most of whom were estranged from each other, stack the list of suspects. Charm and sweetness can’t disguise the greedy heart. Most of the family knew one of Norm’s secrets – how much money he had – but were unsure of an even greater secret. This drama has many tangled strands, and I very much enjoy how the author ties them off. I highly recommend this mystery to those who love this author and series, well-written cozy mysteries, and cats.