Trusting tarot card reader Ruby gets help from some pet friends in solving a baffling mystery.
Black cat siblings Ophelia and Brandon may be high maintenance—they talk fluently to each other, though not to their human acquaintances—but their excitement at finding a corpse is not an overreaction. Though she loses track of Brandon, Ophelia is rescued from a box by Ruby Sparks, who’s recently agreed to step in for her Cuban-American half-sister Rosa and run the Botanica Santa Rosa while Rosa takes a sabbatical. While Ruby gets her bearings in the shop, Ophelia, with the help of Zuki, her new pit bull pal, sets out to find Brandon. Fortuitously, Ruby gives a reading to housekeeper Luciana, who recognizes Ophelia, originally owned by Señora Givens. But Luciana has a more important question for Ruby: Did Senor Givens murder his mother? Ruby is taken aback but moved by Luciana’s apparent sincerity. Before Ruby can decide how to proceed, the frightened Luciana, ignoring Ophelia’s calls to her, runs away. Ophelia is overjoyed to find Brandon in an alley even though his rescue involves facing off against a trio of churlish dogs. Meanwhile, a headline describing the death of Mrs. Givens shakes Ruby to her core, and she feels she must investigate.
Stuckart, author of the Black Cat Bookshop books (Twice Told Tail, 2016, etc.), kicks off a new series that often puts animal antics ahead of narrative tension and sleuthing, but she writes throughout with charm and warmth. Anyone with a pet will enjoy.