This second installment of a series offers another adventure for a crime-solving architect and his friend’s talented cat.
Mary Questman—a wealthy widow, noted philanthropist, and owner of Mister Puss, the beautiful Abyssinian cat who just might have the ability to speak—receives a letter from the new rector at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in her hometown of Dumont, Wisconsin. When Joyce Hibbard requests that Mary fund a project to either restore or rebuild the soon-to-be-condemned St. Alban’s church building, the philanthropist insists that she will only participate if her friend noted local architect Marson Miles is involved. While Joyce is walking Marson and his husband, Brody Norris—who is also the partner in his architectural firm, Miles & Norris, as well as something of an amateur sleuth—around the property, they come across the body of their new friend, David Lowell, the choir director and organist of St. Alban’s. But who would want the choir director dead? Could it be one of the new people in town: Joyce or her husband-of-convenience, Curtis—a wealthy gay lawyer whom Marson knew in college and who recently asked David on a date? Or Curtis’ friend and former lover, the famous ballet dancer Yevgeny Krymov? With the help of the local sheriff, Thomas Simms, and the preternatural Mister Puss, Brody will have to don his detective coat once again to catch the killer before anyone else drops dead. Craft’s (FlabberGassed, 2018, etc.) prose, with its affectionate digs at gossipy Episcopal parishes and affluent gay culture, is cheery in a way that keeps the novel from ever getting too dark, even with the murderous subject matter. After Joyce, who came to religion late in life (and perhaps not because of God), quotes Philippians at a dinner party, her husband says, “You’re laying it on a bit thick, aren’t you, Poopsie?” The characters are all compellingly odd, operating in a gray area between noble and self-serving that will keep readers guessing at their underlying motives. While the author hardly reinvents the wheel, this cozy setting with its nosy inhabitants makes for a lovely place to spend a few hours trying to figure out whodunit and why.
A satisfying mystery pleasantly told.