Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Fat Cat Takes The Cake

Author:  Janet Cantrall
Series:  A Fat Cat Mystery #3
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  Berkley

Description:  When their former classmate Richard “Dickie” Byrd throws a high school reunion to gather support for his mayoral campaign, it drums up some not-so-sweet memories for dessert shop proprietor Chase Oliver and her friend Julie Larson. Julie would rather not reconnect with Ron North, the creepy kid who had a crush on her back in the day. His social graces haven’t exactly improved with age, but is he creepy enough to kill?

The next day, Chase is in the park testing a new cat harness for Quincy, who quickly proves that he cannot be leashed. But when his escape leads Chase to Ron’s body, the police wonder who else got away. Now, with Julie suspected of murder, Chase must prove her innocence before the real killer plans another fatal reunion.

My Review

This is the third book in the Fat Cat Mystery series, and the first book that I have read by this author.  I have made it a goal this year to expand my cozy mystery reading to include themes that I haven't necessarily embraced in the past.  I am not really a cat person, so I don't usually gravitate toward cat themed cozies.  When I had the opportunity to read and review this book I thought it was a win-win - a chance to read a new author and a book with a theme outside of my usual reading.

While this is the third book in the series, I found that I didn't need to read the first two in order to follow the characters or story line in this book.  I will start by saying that this author has a nice writing style and the book flows pretty well.  That said, I found the mystery to take a back seat to other things happening in the plot.  For example, there was a lot about Anna's entry into the cooking contest and Chase having old feelings resurface for an old high school flame that she reconnected with at a recent reunion.  For me, I thought the mystery could have been stronger and had more prominence in the story line.

I enjoyed the characters and their relationships.  Chase and Julia are old friends and that flows through in the story and the writing.  I thought the high school flame was not that likable and couldn't see what Chase saw in him.  I was disappointed with Quincy's role in this book.  I have read one other series where the cat is really like another character and thought that would be the case here.  What I found was that Quincy's role seemed to be limited to finding another dead body and hiding an important clue that Chase needed to solve the mystery.  I thought Chase's detective skills need more development.  In this era of cozy mysteries, the lead character, once a series progresses, develops more honed skills in solving the mystery.  Here, Chase made some rookie mistakes (especially for a third book) in assuming people were where that claimed to be for the entire period and missing a big clue that was right in front of her.  This was one of the only times where I was able to guess the identity of the killer before the end of the book and I was right.

This was an enjoyable read and I would be willing to give this author another chance, but would like to see the mystery more prominent in the story, an expanded role for Quincy and some development in Chase's sleuthing skills.

I received a copy of this book from Berkley, through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.  This did not influence my opinion and the thought reflected are my own.

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