A former TV fixture investigates small-town gossip that led to a local museum's rejection of her aunt’s Cary Grant collection. Oh, and there’s a murder, too, in this series kickoff by LoTempio (Death by a Whisker, 2018, etc.)
Retired from Hollywood at the ripe old age of 38, Crishell McMillan, more widely known as Spy Anyone’s Shell Marlowe, moves to Fox Hollow, Connecticut, to take over the pet store her Aunt Tillie left her. In addition to the Purr N’ Bark, Shell’s inherited Tillie’s world-class collection of Cary Grant movie posters as well as Tillie’s roommate, a Persian named Purrday after His Girl Friday. So long as Purrday gets along with Shell’s Siamese, Kahlua, Shell’s happy to welcome a new cat into her life as she prepares the Purr N’ Bark for an eagerly anticipated grand reopening. But Shell’s business plans take a back seat when the local museum board refuses to display items from Tillie’s Cary Grant collection. Who do they think they are? Shell is so shocked that she spends most of the story trying to tease out the board members’ motives, certain that since they couldn’t possibly be indifferent to the finest movie memorabilia available, something must be amiss. She knows she’s on the right track when board member and possible blackmailer Amelia Witherspoon is suddenly offed. Naturally, Shell wonders whether solving Amelia’s murder will lead to answers about Tillie’s Cary Grant collection. Some standard romantic tension is thrown in when handsome Detective Josh Bloodgood is assigned to the case. All the best lines, however, go to Shell’s friend and former co-star Gary Presser, ne Philip Tewksbury, whose efforts to help Shell all but steal the show.
Readers who can’t buy into the book's low stakes will miss out on the heroine’s highly amusing friend in a tale that’s enjoyable despite a transparent lack of guile.