October 17, 2012

Cat-aided sleuthing

By Carolyn Hart
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In What the Cat Saw, multiple award-winning mystery writer Carolyn Hart has penned another can’t-put-down tale—the first in a series—and this one comes with a nice dash of romance.

Nela Farley has traveled out West to cat-sit—she’s filling in for her sister, Chloe, who was minding the cat upon the death of its owner, Marion Grant, one of her employers in the hotsy-totsy charitable Haklo Foundation in Craddock, Oklahoma. The plan is for Nela to perform Chloe’s secretarial duties at the foundation while the latter is sunning in Tahiti. She’s hot-footed it off with her boyfriend to the tropics, while Nela, still reeling from the death of her soldier fiancé, thinks a change of scene may be just the ticket.

The proverbial ticket, however, comes complete with an apartment break-in on the very first night of Nela’s arrival, and if that’s not enough, there’s Nela’s subsequent discovery of a glittering diamond and gold necklace in Marion Grant’s purse, left strangely untouched when the place was ransacked. To make matters even worse, are those the cat’s thoughts echoing around in Nela’s head? Jugs, the feline, appears to be communicating feelings of unease and dread that include the possibility that his former owner did not die accidentally.

To make matters even worse, are those the cat’s thoughts echoing around in Nela’s head?

The necklace and the circumstances surrounding Grant’s death form the backdrop for Nela’s first day at work. She learns of all the strange, angry occurrences that have occurred at the foundation over the past year, including the disappearance of—you guessed it—an heirloom diamond necklace belonging to the foundation’s trustee, Blythe Webster.

In practiced and satisfying fashion, Hart pulls in her readers, winding the threads of circumstance and drawing Nela in tighter and tighter as she gets to know the odd little group whose lives revolve around the foundation and whose lines of patience have been stretched with each small act of violence, culminating in another murder most foul.

Enter Steve Flynn, a rumpled, red-headed reporter for the Craddock Clarion. Steve’s eye for the truth, as well as his eye for Nela, enliven the activities, and after circling one another for a time, the two form a somewhat wary alliance to ferret out the culprit. This is a nicely fashioned whodunit guaranteed to keep readers’ interest right to the finish.

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What the Cat Saw

What the Cat Saw

By Carolyn Hart
Berkley Prime Crime
ISBN 9780425252741

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