The Trouble with Talent
Gourmet Cat Mystery #3
By Kathy Krevat
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
Single mom Colbie Summers has a lot to be grateful for in the run up to Thanksgiving. Relocating back to her California hometown has brought her irascible dad and adolescent son closer. Her gourmet cat food line—vetted by her trusty taste-tester, Trouble—is about to get a big re-order. And she’s made wonderful new friends and colleagues. Too bad one them has just been accused of murder . . .
Sunnyside’s most gifted students have been at the mercy of a shadowy network of college fixers—including an abusive oboe teacher whose recommendation is necessary to get into Julliard and a school secretary who alters grades for cash. When they turn up dead, Colbie has to untangle a cat’s cradle of suspects and motivations—from livid parents and students whose dreams have been crushed to an entire secret Facebook group of spurned lovers.
Suddenly, holiday preparations just got a lot hairier. With the big re-order now on hold and the real killer still at large, Colbie discovers that someone has been grading on a very dangerous curve—and it will take all her newfound sleuthing talent to land safely on her feet. (from Goodreads)
The Trouble with Talent is a new, exciting offering in the Gourmet Cat Mystery series! Trouble comes in all shapes and sizes. In Colbie’s world, Trouble is an adorable orange female tabby cat with white paws and belly. Trouble is the mascot of Colbie’s organic cat food company, Meowio Batali. And trouble is what Colbie runs into ever since moving back to Sunnyside, California. She doesn’t go looking for murder, creepy jealous exes, or other problems. They just to find her.
Colbie and her son Elliott live with her father, Hank, and the gorgeous, very vocal Trouble. Elliott is settled in his new school and a happy member of the middle school drama club, preparing for a presentation of The Lion King. Colbie is dating Joss, an organic farmer near their home, and his daughter Kai and Elliott get along well. Colbie’s business is doing well. One successful health food chain distributes the food she began experimenting with when Trouble couldn’t digest regular cat food. She hopes to have another store distributing it soon, but trouble got in the way of the deal.
Colbie went to pick up Steven, the son of her friend, Yollie, from his oboe lesson. A high school senior, Steven eats, sleeps, and breathes playing his oboe. While she was outdoors waiting, she heard a crash inside the garage/ studio where the lessons are conducted, the teacher, Benson Tadworth, yelling at Steven. Unable to stop herself, she raced inside and yelled at the man for being awful to Steven, who begged her to let it go and wait for him outside. Without the recommendation of Tadworth, he would not get auditions to music conservatories, which would destroy everything he had loved and worked hard for.
Colbie asked her business investor, mentor, and friend, Quincy, if that was the same teacher his granddaughter has and why. When he talked with his granddaughter and learned more about him, he was irate. Quincy saw the instructor in the parking lot of a store, and their words turned into a knock-down fight.
Yollie was very angry and concerned about Steven’s future. They agreed that Yollie and Colbie would return to Tadworth’s home on Sunday and Colbie would apologize for her outburst. After arriving, they recognized the horrible reek of rotten eggs outside the converted garage/ studio. Knowing it was probably a gas leak, they open the door to find Tadworth lying on the floor, and they dragged him out, seeing his shirt covered in blood. They were barely away from the garage when it exploded. Tadworth was dead, murdered, with a hole in his neck.
Quincy, having had a public fight with him, was the primary suspect. Everyone who knew Quincy knew he could not kill anyone. Norma, the lead detective, must follow the leads, however, and despite her friendship with Colbie, must do her job. Between the challenges Zoey, Colbie’s head chef, endures from the father of her son, and Joss’ ex-wife trying to get back together with him, Colbie’s hands are full. There comes a time when she has to help Quincy by asking questions and sharing what she learns with Norma. They are going against big money folks this time, finding a military-grade GPS on her car, bugs in her dad’s home (Trouble tried to tell her there was something weird in the chandelier!), and learning about “fixers” who help get students into the schools of their choice, at any price. Even murder.
I am partial to the characters in this series, especially Colbie, Joss, and their respective pets. The goats and Charlie the rooster are fun farm friends. If it wasn’t for Charlie, would Colbie and Joss met as quickly? Trouble, who has much to say throughout, is a charmer, behaving like many felines I’ve known. Colbie’s family and friends are likable and defined well through their actions and realistic conversations.
The plot twists keep the story moving at a steady, rapid pace, and before I knew it, the story was over. It was so hard to figure out who the real killer was! While I was curious about who it turned out to be, I didn’t see the person as anything other than a bit creepy. I appreciated watching Colbie and Norma working together with Norma respecting Colbie’s opinions and suggestions, even when at great risk. Elliott’s enjoyment of the junior theater is refreshing, and I learned more than anticipated about “fixers”. I highly recommend this novel to cat-loving cozy mystery fans!