The Trouble with Murder
Gourmet Cat Mystery, Book #1
By Kathy Krevat
Author’s website: http://www.kathykrevat.com
Brought to you by OBS reviewer Jeanie
Colbie Summers has moved back in with her father, a place she left with no intention of ever returning. When her father grows ill, Colbie knows she has no choice but to pack up her 12-year-old son, their cat, Trouble, and her gourmet cat food business and go back to the tiny town of Sunnyside, CA.
While Colbie expected that things might be complicated, she certainly never expected the complications to lead to murder. When police suspect her of murdering one of the other women in the Sunnyside Power Moms trade show, Colbie realizes that in order to save her name, her business, and her son, she needs to find out who the real killer is and that might include getting into a little trouble!
This delightful and suspenseful mystery, The Trouble with Murder, is first in the new Gourmet Cat Mystery series. Being a crazy cat lady, I was not disappointed to meet Trouble, the orange tabby whose digestive disorders led her owner, Colbie Summers, into her new career with the Meowi Batali Gourmet label of organic cat foods. The mystery is fresh and interesting; the characters and their situations show the challenges that a family of 3 that spans 3 generations aren’t as far apart as the years might suggest.
Colbie left home as a pregnant 18-year-old and didn’t ever plan to return. She was the first of her family to go to college, but that had to take a back seat for a while. Gypsy Sue, a volunteer in a teen mom program, had helped her find a place to live, employment, and baby care, and became a long-term friend.
When Hank, her 62-year-old father had a second bout of pneumonia, his close friend, Annie called Colbie. At about the same time, the apartment building she managed was being sold, so she returned home to help her father. Her 12-year-old son, Elliott, was happy with the creative and performing arts school he attended in San Diego, so their stay in Sunnyvale, about 20 minutes away, would probably not last the summer.
Colbie is at a trade show sponsored by the Sunnyside Power Moms, a group of home business owners who network, when Elliott texts her that Hank is coughing a lot. She leaves everything behind. When her dad is breathing a bit easier, he gets a call from Bert, his financial advisor and husband of Sharon, one of the Moms. The call dropped, they couldn’t get through again, and Colbie heard something that led her to think he was at the trade show. She and Hank drove over to find that nobody was left…or at least nobody who was alive. Twila, leader of the Moms who was going to pack up Colbie’s materials, was dead, stabbed with a Meowio knife from Colbie’s set of kitchen knives. It only gets worse when Colbie is suspected of the murder, a tip to police shows that evidence was planted outside Hank’s home, and Bert claims he wasn’t anywhere near the trade show.
Her business just covers the bills, so Colbie wants to put together a package to sell Meowi Batali through their local organic food store. Conversely, she doesn’t have the up-front funds to hire the staff it would take to ramp up production if her proposal was accepted. For comic relief, there is Charlie, the neighbor’s chicken, who often trots down the road to ring their doorbell. Charlie’s owner, Joss, is the most interesting guy she has met in years. Elliott is trying out to play Horton the Elephant in a special Seuss production at summer theatre camp. All of those things may never see the light of day; since she is a murder suspect, many people don’t want her around. If the police can’t clear Colbie, she just might have to do it herself, with a little help from BFF Lani and the intervention of … Trouble?
The characters are well-developed and could easily step into real life. I like Colbie and Lani; not do they balance each other out, they encourage each other. I enjoyed watching the relationships between Hank and his daughter and grandson change, especially as he interacts more with Hank. I also enjoyed meeting Joss, Charlie the Chicken’s owner, and Horace, another of Hank’s neighbors. The men in this novel are very different from one another, yet each plays a vital role in Colbie’s life. The women of Moms didn’t really impress me; each were shown in a professional manner but they didn’t seem like folks I would consider as friends. Love Trouble, and enjoy seeing Charlie the Chicken!
The family, the mystery, and even Trouble and Charlie drew me into the story from the start. One thing I like about the plot is that the problems Colbie and her family faces are relevant to a wide variety of readers. From health challenges to being a single mom to being an adolescent boy trying out for an important part amidst a group of kids he doesn’t know, they brought this reader into the plot quickly and kept me rooting for them. Twists and turns in the mystery continue to change who appeared to be the bad guy/ gal. While I had a wild guess who was behind the murder and other events early on, but was only partly right. I did, however, followed a couple of the red herrings at least until they simply didn’t feel right. The motive was not immediately obvious, so I had to keep reading for a real surprise. The end was perfect, and leaves me looking forward to the next in series. I highly recommend The Trouble with Murder!