Murder Past Due: A Cat in the Stacks Mystery
by Miranda James

Mass Market Paperback 2010
Berkeley Prime Crime Books
ISBN: 978-0-425-23603-1

Rating: 4 paws (out of 5)
four poly paws on trans background

Murder Past Due is a typical cozy mystery in many ways–it’s set in a small southern town, it doesn’t include any graphic descriptions of violence, and much of the investigating is done by someone who isn’t in law enforcement. But it’s a far above average read. The plot twists and turns lead Charlie Harris on a merry, yet very feasible chase that keep him and the reader guessing until the very last scene.

Charlie also has a somewhat unusual sidekick–Diesel. Diesel is a maine coon, albeit a very intuitive, well-trained one. He is painstakingly well-described, other than a minor exaggeration of coon size. Charlie is in the unique position of being able to take his cat with him almost everywhere he goes (even his parttime job!), and both his attitude toward Diesel and Diesel himself resonated with the cat owner in me.

Charlie is a nicely developed character and is easy to identify with. I found his actions logical and reasonable, making for a cohesive, believable plot. The pacing was fairly steady throughout, never boring, and picks up just a bit near the end as things get more exciting. More than anything else, this is a fun read.

This book will appeal to anyone in the cat fancy who likes a good mystery! And there’s more to come: Classified as Murder, the next book in the series, will be published in May 2011.

What is a cozy mystery? The first example that comes to mind of a typical cozy mystery is Jessica Fletcher of Murder, She Wrote, aptly portrayed by Angela Landsbury on everyone’s television. Typically, a cozy mystery takes place in a village where everyone knows nearly everyone else. The crime-solver (often, but not always, a woman) is a bright, intuitive, likeable person that most members of the community will talk freely to, even though they are not officially a part of the law enforcement community. And there is almost always a cat involved somewhere . . . .