4 stars out of 5
Let's set the record straight right away: Two things are guaranteed to spike my personal barf-o-meter. First is extreme heat and humidity; when the temperature turns upwards of 75 degrees Fahrenheit, I turn into a shrew. Second is dressing animals in human-like clothing (well, make that any kind of clothing). Never once has a bonnet or ruffled collar come anywhere near any of my furry darlings.
So given that this book is set in New Orleans, where 95 degrees signals a cool-down, and the main character is the owner of Furry Godmother - a shop that sells glitzy animal costumes and high-end home-baked treats - what on earth would tempt me to read it? Big hint: The word "cat" in the title. Puppies and other baby animals are cute, I admit, but if you want to melt my heart, put a kitty of any size in my arms. Still another reason for my requesting this book is that every once in a while I love to "cozy" up to a mystery book that isn't full of murder, mayhem and gore. And this, the first of a series, filled the bill purrfectly.
For that, a big thank you to the author and publisher, via NetGalley, for allowing me to read an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
The heroine is Lacy Marie Crocker, a native of the city, who's returned home after a disastrous romantic hook-up. She's got a cute shop in the ritzy Garden District, but she's struggling. She doesn't want to take money from her well-heeled parents and banks won't give her a loan, but for the present, she's making do with an investment from a local jewelry store owner.
Out of nowhere, disaster strikes; first, she has a run-in at the store with a very unpleasant character. Shortly thereafter, the glitter gun she was using to bedeck an order of tutus for Shih Tzus is the weapon of choice in the murder of that same character. Well gosh - guess who becomes the prime suspect?
Along with that comes a string of jewel thefts from local shops (for gosh sakes, how many jewelry stores could there be in one district)? And all that brings in the requisite potential love interest, Detective Jack Oliver. As expected in a book of this type, they alternate between serious attraction and silly bickering - and yes, there's the threat of another romantic interest in the form of the hunky brother-in-law of Lacy's best friend.
Despite Jack's constant badgering to stay out of his investigation, Lacy doesn't comply (a woman's got to do what a woman's got to do to clear her name, right)? Besides, she's got a business to run, orders to complete and an independent itch to scratch. Of course, that leads to all kinds of potential and real danger and intensifies the bickering with Jack (no doubt I'm in the minority, but the human cat-and-mouse games that seem to go with the cozy mystery genre are far more annoying to me than entertaining). But all's well that ends well - one of the pleasant aspects of cozies - so overall it's a cute, enjoyable and very well-written book.
Also enjoyable is that each chapter begins with a "Furry Godmother's Secret; my favorite is the "Secret to a happy life: Keep your friends close. Sometimes they bring wine." At the end are recipes for making some of the pet treats mentioned in the story (reminiscent of Murder at the Mansion by Alison Golden and Jamie Vougeot, another enjoyable cozy mystery.
Cat Got Your Diamonds: A Kitty Couture Mystery by Julie Chase (Crooked Lane Books, November 2016); 304 pp.