Two cats provide active assistance to a small-town Minnesota librarian investigating an ancient scandal that may have sparked a recent murder.
All around Mayville Heights, the return of Victor Janes is big news. Victor ran off years ago with his twin brother Leo’s wife, Meredith. Soon afterward, Meredith was killed in a car accident, the townspeople suspect while she was trying to return to Leo and their son, Simon. Librarian Kathleen Paulson becomes acquainted with Victor in the course of helping him find some niche books, and while they don’t instantly bond, she knows she should reserve judgement on his past behavior. In the years since the scandal, Simon has grown into an adult with a child of his own who’s almost grown. His daughter, Mia, works with Kathleen but doesn’t share her reluctance to pass judgement on Victor. She’s certain Victor had something to do with Meredith’s death, wants nothing to do with her great-uncle, and even accuses Kathleen of being too nice about giving Victor a chance to make amends. Before Victor can settle in, Kathleen finds Leo bludgeoned to death. She’s encouraged to investigate by none other than Owen and Hercules, her two companion cats, who like nothing more than a good mystery (Paws and Effect, 2016, etc.). While the cats offer what help they can—and they are indeed a talented twosome—Kathleen also gets insight from her good-guy boyfriend, Detective Marcus Gordon, who shares whatever information won’t compromise the case.
In spite of the heroine’s protestations, Kelly writes a tale that’s Minnesota nice in the best possible way, allowing readers to enjoy the story without tipping into either Pollyanna or snark.