A mild-mannered mystery-solver and Maine coon cat owner roots around in his past in order to determine whether to condemn or exonerate a stranger come to town.
Charlie Harris is equally known around Athena as the proud owner of Diesel, a large, purring cat, and as the unintentional solver of several local murder cases (Twelve Angry Librarians, 2017, etc.). The latter experience introduces Charlie to author Jack Pemberton, who finds Charlie’s connection to killers a perfect topic for his next novel. Charlie isn’t sure he wants to get involved with Jack. He’s more interested in a low-key life whose highlights are volunteering with the Athena Public Library, spending time with his lady love, Helen Louise Brady, and being a devoted and doting grandfather. But Charlie’s library connection brings him up against a new case when patron Bill Delaney’s inquiries about his past unearth a mystery of his own. Bill, who looks almost familiar, asks Charlie about someone named Del Collins, who happens to be Charlie’s uncle by marriage. Without divulging this connection, Charlie does a little digging on Bill and learns not only that Bill may be related to Del, but also that he’s hiding secrets that may explain why he’s not forthcoming about this. Naturally, Charlie wants to investigate, and Jack is the natural teammate to get to the bottom of Bill’s past and figure out whether Bill is caught up in something bigger than himself or is the cause of his own trouble.
Charlie’s even temper so completely sets the tone for James’ cat cozy that the brutal truth, when it finally comes, is quite a surprise.