A few months ago I reviewed several books featuring dogs by Jennifer Crusie, and my friend Cathie asked if I had any recommendations about books with cats. There are apparently TONS of books with cats as characters. I’m clearly behind the curve, because the only books I’ve read about cats usually star ones that turn into hunky 6 feet tall guys. Rawr! But while in Target this weekend, I saw that there was an entire shelf devoted to cat mysteries in the book section, so I picked one up. I am so glad I did, because Sofie Kelly’s Curiosity Thrilled the Cat is hilarious!
This novel is more of a mystery than a romance, although there are hints at a possible romance in the future for the heroine, Kathleen Paulson. Kathleen is a librarian who has recently moved to Mayville, Minnesota, to help renovate the town’s Carnegie funded library for its centenary in 2012. She’s been adopted by two feral kittens, Owen and Hercules, who are gifted with some disconcerting abilities. For one thing, Kathleen thinks the cats listen to and understand her when she talks to them, but she also recognizes that might have more to do with her than any magical powers her cats have. Just when she convinces herself that Owen and Hercules are normal cats, she sees Hercules disappear and walk through a door. Their feline magic powers come in handy when the obnoxious guest conductor in town for the summer festival is murdered and Kathleen becomes a suspect. To make matters worse, the contractor working on the library renovations is dragging his feet, and several suspicious accidents occur. Kathleen has a lot on her hands, and her trusty cats step up to help her solve the mysteries.
There were so many things to like about this novel! The book is narrated in first person, which is extremely effective. Kathleen has a strong and very funny voice, and her relationships with the secondary characters are as interesting and warm as the ones she has with Owen and Hercules. I knew after reading the first line that this book was going to be a hoot, and anyone with pets or small children can relate immediately:
The body was smack in the middle of my freshly scrubbed kitchen floor. Fred the Funky Chicken, minus his head.
Fred is a catnip toy that Kathleen’s neighbor Rebecca keeps buying for Owen in an attempt to make friends with him. Since he and his brother Hercules were feral as kittens, they don’t relate well to anyone other than Kathleen, and Rebecca’s efforts to win over the cats are in vain. Owen shows no signs of interest in her but is swiftly becoming a “chicken-decapitating catnip junkie”. Ms. Kelly’s descriptions of Owen blissed out on catnip, surrounded by furry toy chicken parts made me laugh out loud.
Hercules is no less an intriguing character, despite his disinterest in catnip. Apparently he and Kathleen have an unfortunate taste for Barry Manilow music, which sends Owen howling from the room. I certainly sympathize with Owen on this one.
The town’s residents make for an interesting cast of characters, and the older women of the town have embraced Kathleen as one of their own. Part of what makes this novel so enjoyable is the relationships between these women. At one point Kathleen’s friend Maggie becomes convinced that the library contractor is deliberately targeting Kathleen with accidents at the library. Maggie's determined to follow him and find out exactly what he’s doing. In an attempt to be inconspicuous, Maggie borrows an old, beat-up pick-up truck so they can follow him incognito, but the truck won’t start. When she spots the town vet, Roma, pulling into the parking lot in her SUV, she and Kathleen jump into the SUV and tell Roma to follow him. Much hilarity ensues:
Maggie touched her shoulder. “He’s turning,” she said.
“I see him,” Roma said. “It looks like Will has one of those trucks with a turn signal.”
In the end, the key to solving the various mysteries in Mayville has everything to do with relationships past and present, human and feline. There is a hint at the end of the novel that Ms. Kelly is planning on a romantic relationship for Kathleen in the future, and I can’t wait to see the sequel. This novel was so much fun that I highly recommend it.