A graduate student finds that life imitates art a little too closely in the gothic romances she studies.
Dulcie Schwartz (Grey Matters, 2011, etc.) doesn’t understand the meaning of her recurring nightmares, in which she finds a body—sometimes red-haired, sometimes dark-haired—from which the “precious ichor glistened jewel-like no longer.” She does know that under the watchful eye of Thomas Griddlehaus, chief clerk of her university’s famed Mildon Collection, her dissertation about The Ravages of Umbria is moving along nicely—at least until the arrival of celebrated gothic scholar Melinda Sloane Harquist leads the Mildon to be locked down under the orders of Dean Haitner, who wants to give Melinda sole access to its treasures. Ignoring a warning from Mr. Grey, her dearly departed cat, who comes periodically from the other side to counsel her, as well as the concerns of her current pet, the younger but equally talkative Esmé, Dulcie goes to Dardley House to confront Melinda. She finds her rival sprawled out like the figure in Dulcie’s dream and every bit as dead. Now, Dulcie is a person of interest in the investigation, and her friendship with Detective Rogovoy of the university’s security force doesn’t help much when she’s questioned by the Cambridge police. Adding insult to injury, Dean Haitner slaps her with plagiarism charges. Now that her boyfriend, Chris, is working a night shift and her thesis advisor is giving her wide berth, Dulcie has almost no one to share her sorrows with—except of course her feline friends.
As paranormal talking cat mysteries go, Simon’s latest gives her humans their due and a little bit more.