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Saturday, January 2, 2016


4 stars out of 5

I've never met a cat of any size or type I didn't like (well, except maybe for those pitiful little hairless things) - so one of the annual joys of my life came at the release of a new book in the Cat who series by the late Lilian Jackson Braun. Ah, how I loved reading about the antics of Koko and Yum Yum, the Siamese buddies belonging to journalist "Qwill" Qwilleran. With around 30 in all, they provided a good run.

Until, of course, they came to an end. And since then, I've been hoping to find a mystery series (heck, I'd even settle for a single book) with a feline focus. And by George, I think I've got it. This book, which I received free in exchange for a review from the publisher (via NetGalley), is the seventh in the author's Cat in the Stacks series; now that I've finished it, it looks as if I've got some backtracking to do.

The location is Athena College in Mississippi, where the very likable Charlie Harris is a part-time librarian. One of the conditions of his taking the job - which he doesn't need for financial reasons - is that he be allowed to bring Diesel, his larger-than-usual Maine Coon cat, to work with him every day. That's fine with just about everyone except the new library director, a numbers-cruncher type who was brought in after his predecessor, thought to have been involved in some financial hanky-panky, abruptly disappeared.

Nobody much likes the new guy, in fact - certainly not Charlie nor his long-time friend and co-worker, Melba. So when the director's body turns up churned up in a library storage room, no one sheds a tear. Because of that, though, the list of suspects is fairly lengthy. When Melba moves to the top of the list, Charlie and his attorney son Sean get involved, helping the police with the investigation. Tension builds when other bad things begin to happen, including threats to Charlie's own life.

Not having had the benefit of reading previous books in the series, I confess to being a little disappointed that although Diesel is a loving monster of a cat with a sweet personality, he's much more of a schmoozer than a sleuth (put another way, he's no Koko or Yum Yum). That said, this is an easy-breezy story that I thoroughly enjoyed - and for sure I'll be watching for the next installment.

No Cats Allowed by Miranda James (Berkley, February 2016); 288 pp.

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