With the help of her two magical cats, a small-town Minnesota librarian investigates the murder of the assistant to a singer come to town.
Having grown up with a mother in the world of theater, Kathleen Paulson appreciates the talent it takes for performers to succeed on stage. The rest of Maryville Heights is also caught up in the excitement of live performance when the town hosts a music festival that attracts performers from all over the country. Her background gives Kathleen a special connection to the group, and she gets to know cabaret singer and rising star Emme Finley and Miranda Moore, Emme’s look-alike, assistant, and close friend. While she’s out one night with her friend Ruby, her companions Owen and Hercules, two typically troublemaking cats, seem to want to show Ruby and Kathleen something. Kathleen knows her feline friends well enough to know to trust their senses—each cat seems to have his own magical powers—and she and Ruby follow when the cats lead them to a body by a river. At first glance the dead person seems to be Emme, but Kathleen is certain it’s Miranda. Kathleen tells her boyfriend, Detective Marcus Gordon, that she’s convinced they’ve stumbled onto a murder. But who would have killed an out-of-towner who was by all accounts nothing but friendly? Kathleen, this time with Marcus’ blessing, can’t help digging a little deeper and realizes that the killer may have targeted Emme and gotten her look-alike instead. Determined to keep Emme out of future danger, Kathleen uses all the resources at her disposal, including the help of Owen and Hercules, to identify Miranda’s killer.
Simple to engage with, Kelly’s cozy series (A Tale of Two Kitties, 2018) uses another murder of an outsider to continue its gradual development of its characters’ lives. Given their powers, though, it’s a shame that her heroine’s magical cats don’t do a little bit more to help their human.