You may recall, or you may not have been reading here then, that a few months back I did a You Should Be Reading…post about one of my new favorite mystery authors, Sofie Kelly. Ms. Kelly’s latest Magical Cats offering, Cat Trick, was released a few weeks ago and I pretty much immediately downloaded the e-book. The joys of instant books that you’re really looking forward to can NOT be overstated.
Anywho, Cat Trick is another solid entry in the series, although my initial reaction to it was to find myself a bit mystified. Let me give you a spoiler-free plot summary, and then see if I can explain why I was puzzled.
Librarian Kathleen finds herself in several quandaries in this installment. For starters, it looks like police detective Marcus is indeed interested in her, but he’s also a bit slow off the mark, which makes her wonder if he’s as interested in her as she is in him, even if she will not admit any interest at all to any of her friends. Also gnawing at the back of her mind is whether or not to stay in Mayville Heights or return to her native Boston—her contract with the library is up for renewal and she needs to make a choice. It’s a decision complicated by homesickness on one hand, her budding romance with Marcus on another, the likelihood of her cats adjusting to living in a huge city on a third hand, and how attached she is to both the library she’s rebuilt and the friends she’s made.
And there’s a mystery in there somewhere. That was my initial problem with the book—the mystery elements seemed to take a back seat to the other elements for most of the book, a back seat so far back in the car that it was practically in the trunk. Kathleen goes to work, meets her friends, does her volunteer work, goes to Tai Chi class, has a few dates with Marcus, and talks a lot to Owen and Hercules, her cats. She seems to be spending very little time snooping, and while it appears that she may be just trying to stay out of Marcus’ way here, which he has repeatedly asked her to do, she’s also promised a friend she’d try to figure out who killed nasty Mike Glazer, a local bad boy who’s come back with a business proposition for the town. There are tons of potential suspects, but Kathleen doesn’t seem to spend a whole lot of time thinking about them.
Upon further reflection, though, I realized that Kelly was toying a bit with the reader. In the first three books in the series, Kathleen is still attempting to establish herself in the town, find her footing, and figure out how things work. By this book, she’s an accepted member of the community, and a trusted one as well, one who has earned a bit of a reputation for finding things out. In the first few books, Kathleen was a far more active detective, determined to snoop and dig out clues. In this book, the clues come to her, sometimes without her, or the reader, even realizing it.
It’s actually a clever way of shaking things up a bit. Kathleen seems distracted by her personal problems—and she is—and Kelly seems to be as well. And the result of that is that the reader is distracted by them. Meanwhile, the clues are whizzing by, practically unnoticed. It’s only near the end, when Kathleen is forced into action by a potential tragedy, that she realizes she’s had all the information she needs to solve things all along—and the reader realizes the same thing.
Meanwhile, though, while you’re missing all the clues because you’re distracted, you get to enjoy Kathleen and Marcus’ slow burn of a romance, the antics of Hercules and Owen, and the usual daily routines in Mayville Heights. For me, if I’m going to be bamboozled, I like to enjoy myself while I’m clueless. And Kelly’s light prose is highly readable, the characters are all likeable, and the cats are adorable.
So I’ll say it again. You should be reading Sofie Kelly if you’re a mystery fan. Great fun, great setting, great quirky characters, and two magical cats. Can’t go wrong with that.