The Girl with the Kitten Tattoo
A Cat Lady Mystery, Book #5
By Linda Reilly
Author Website: lindareilly(.)com
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
The fur is going to fly . . .
Wedding bells will soon be ringing in Whisker Jog, New Hampshire. But instead of church bells, they may be tinkling above the door of Bowker’s Coffee Stop. Lara Caphart’s best friend Sherry and her fiancé David want to tie the knot where they met—in her family’s coffee shop. Lara is overjoyed for her friend, but as she feeds and grooms the kitties at the High Cliff Shelter for Cats in her aunt Fran’s Folk Victorian, she can’t help but wonder when her own beau, lawyer Gideon Halley, will stop hinting and make their union legal.
It doesn’t help that Gideon’s old flame, Megan Haskell, just showed up with a tearful yarn about being fired that smells fishier than a can of tuna. But Blue, the Ragdoll cat who only Lara can see, appears to be on Megan’s side. Should she ignore her green-eyed monster of jealousy in favor of her blue-eyed spirit cat? When Megan’s ex-boss is found dead, Lara has to retract her claws long enough to follow Blue’s uncanny clues and clear her rival of a murder charge. (Goodreads)
Whisker Jog is home to a unique cat shelter that Fran and her niece Lara are lucky to own and manage. It is in Fran’s home, where part of the first floor is dedicated to showing cats on adoption days to prospective owners and a room for children to read to the cats one day a week. The cats are allowed throughout the home, including in their living areas.
Lara is a watercolor artist who moved to Fran’s when learning her aunt needed both knees replaced. It has given Fran a new lease on life. She is now substitute teaching and considering full-time teaching and working on a special project. It has been good for Lara to be back with some of her childhood friends and is closer than ever to her beloved Aunt Fran. She is dating Gideon, an attorney both in private practice and for the town.
Best friend Sherry is marrying David in a few weeks. Gideon has hinted that he might be considering proposing to Lara soon. One thing puts a damper on his feelings for her. For some reason, Lara seems to get involved with murders. Whether someone close to her finds the body or is accused of the murder, Lara feels compelled to help find resolution for the loved ones of victims. She has a little help, a gorgeous ragdoll cat named Blue.
Blue is not the average cat. Blue died when Lara was born, so she never met Blue before going to Fran’s. As a child, she saw Blue as a playmate. As an adult, Blue appears in times of need, especially when she is in danger. Only those closest to Lara now know about Blue: Fran, Gideon, and best friend Sherry.
An old girlfriend of Gideon’s came to town, a beautiful young woman named Megan. He seems hesitant to say more other than that she wants him to take a case for her. On Saturday, Gideon went to the police station at the nearby town she lives in, as she crashed a party at her ex-boss’s house the night before. Later he was found dead outside his home. She has contacted a criminal attorney she used to work with to represent her. Police think Wayne Chancer had been poisoned, possibly by something served at the party.
The following day, Megan showed up at Fran’s. She looked up Lara online after hearing so much about her from Gideon and learned that Lara had helped solve murders in the past. She wants to be off the hook for this one, and asked Lara to help her. Megan almost immediately bonded with Panda, a recent loving addition to the shelter who was up for adoption. It was startling, then, to see Megan had a tattoo of a kitten with almost the same markings as Panda. Lara advises that she let her attorney pursue any concerns with the murder, much to the relief of Aunt Fran.
Despite her best intentions, Lara is drawn to Bakewell, and into asking questions of people. She meets Chancer’s widow and a young woman whose parents’ business he destroyed. Fran and Sherry are both distressed, and Gideon becomes so upset he can barely speak to her. It’s possible that this time, she is risking her relationship.
The characters are very well defined, and the regular characters are very likable and engaging. I like Lara and Fran’s close relationship, and really enjoyed learning more about Fran. Gideon is intelligent and loving, a perfect match for Lara. While most of what we see of Sherry this time is preparing for her wedding, I like her and her excitement for the future. Meeting Tina was a delight, and I hope we see more of her in the future.
The story moves along quickly. While the focus isn’t entirely on the mystery, in this series I love the blend of getting to know more about the cats and their interactions and the shelter. The plot twists seem to change the suspects, but I had an idea early on who was responsible for the murder even if I didn’t know the motive. Overall, I was very satisfied with the novel, the resolution, and ending, and I highly recommend it!