...for readers who love animals, and animal lovers who read!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Cat Detectives, Part 1

By Toni LoTempio

Cat Detectives, anyone?

As a writer of cozy mysteries featuring an extremely communicative cat (the Nick and Nora mysteries, debut December 2014) I must confess to being partial to mysteries that feature cats! (not that I don’t like dogs, or give dogs equal time, I do, I do!  But when you own a twenty-two pound blogging cat, your loyalties are naturally going to gravitate toward the feline end!).

I thought I’d list a few of my favorite cozy series that prominently feature cats here, FYI.  (Sorry I can’t add mine yet – MEOW IF IT’S MURDER doesn’t debut until December – but don’t worry, more on that to come!).

The Magical Cats Series, by Sofie Kelly.

This series centers around Kathleen Paulson, a librarian from Boston, and two stray cats with special powers, Owen and Hercules, in fictional Mayville Heights, Minnesota.  Kathleen has moved to Mayville Heights from Boston after her fiancĂ©e marries a waitress after an argument, and ends up adopting two strays, a tabby named Owen and a tuxedo named Hercules. Turns out the cats have magical powers: Owen can turn invisible and Hercules can walk through walls!  Which provides quite a bit of humor!  There is also a bit of romance in the form of uptight detective Marcus Gordon.   Plenty of quirky characters and homespun charm!  Kathleen finds herself a murder suspect in the first volume setting up the romantic tension between herself and Detective Gordon for future adventure.  In the latest entry, FINAL CATCALL, Kathleen’s ex-boyfriend Andrew shows up, desperate to win her back, but Kathleen’s unsure just where she stands with Detective Marcus. And when a local theatre festival relocates to Mayville Heights and its insufferable director is found shot, Kathleen (and her cats) are in the thick of a puzzling mystery once again.

The Cat in the Stacks series by Miranda (aka Dean) James.

Set in the fictional town of Athena, Mississippi, the action centers around librarian Charlie Harris and his Maine Coon cat, Diesel.  Diesel is quite large for his size, but very lovable, and Charlie walks him on a leash and takes him pretty much everywhere he goes.  Unlike the cats in the “Magical Cats” series, Diesel is more of a sidekick for Charlie than an active participant in the mystery solving – although he does lend a paw from time to time.  The series has many charming characters, some of which have even been put into a spin-off series by James.  The most recent entry, THE SILENCE OF THE LIBRARY, revolves around a library exhibit to honor YA novelists – in particular, one octogenarian, Electra Barnes Cartwright, the author of the beloved “Veronica Thane” series.  Once news of the author’s appearance goes viral, another rumor surfaces – that of five unpublished manuscripts – drawing out one rabid fan who will stop at nothing short of murder to get hold of the rare books.  Series book devotees will find the references and facts about actual series books interspersed throughout the book interesting, and it adds to the mystery.  Charlie and Diesel should be around entertaining us for many years to come.

The Mrs. Murphy Series by Rita Mae Brown (and Sneaky Pie Brown)

What can you say about a mystery series co-authored by a cat!  The first adventure, WISH YOU WERE HERE, published in 1991, introduced us to Mary Minor Haristeen, (aka Harry) and her constant companions, Mrs. Murphy, a tabby and Tucker, a Welsh Corgi.  Harry is the postmistess of the town of Crozet, Virginia, a job that puts her in an excellent to figure out who is murdering, in ghastly fashion, various pillars of her community. Postcards are sent to a wealthy contractor shortly before parts of his body are found in a cement mixer and then to a storeowner whose corpse, tied to a railroad track, is cut in three parts by the express. The cards alert Harry and friends to a plot that will take more lives before they discover the treasure that inspires the violence.  Quirky is the middle name of most of the characters in this long-running series, and Brown always gives a brief rundown of all the characters at the beginning of each book, apparently to keep readers from becoming confused at the large cast.

The most recent release, THE LITTER OF THE LAW, is the 21st adventure!  Autumn has descended and crops are being harvested all over Crozet, Virginia, ideal conditions for a scenic drive for Harry and husband Fair. Bucolic views are all well and good, but Harry’s nose for trouble leads her straight to a cornfield’s macabre scarecrow—an all too real murder victim that frightens all but the noisy crows!  Nothing, however, frightens the irrepressible Mrs. Murphy, because we all know that while it’s Harry who receives the credit for the crime solving, it’s really Mrs. Murphy and her friends, Pewter the cat and Tucker the dog, who are the real detectives!
These are just a few of my favorites! There are many more out there…soon to be joined by Nick the cat and Nora! Stay tuned!

Toni LoTempio – admin by day, writer by night, As T. C. Lotempio,she pens cozy mysteries, debuting with the upcoming Nick and Nora mystery series from Berkeley Prime Crime. (MEOW IF IT’S MURDER, Fall 2014).  She and her cat ROCCO do fundraising for Nathan Fillion’s charity, KIDS NEED TO READ, when they aren’t interviewing authors on ROCCO’s blog! You can keep up with all the latest interviews and news (including her 2014 releases!)  at www.catsbooksmorecats.blogspot.com


  1. These all sound delightful! Thanks, Toni, for the reviews. Looking forward to Part 2 and to your book.


  3. I love all the series you've mentioned so far. I'll look forward to reading your book in december.