A Tale of Two Kitties by Sofie Kelly follows two magical cats with powers of detection that prove indispensable to librarian Kathleen Paulson.
A librarian and her two cats solve mysteries—is that a cozy cliché? A Tale of Two Kitties, the ninth in Sofie Kelly’s Magical Cats Mystery series, is anything but facile. It stars the vibrant, occasionally mettlesome, intelligent Kathleen Paulson.
You’d think by now it wouldn’t bother me to step on a body in the middle of the kitchen floor, but I was in my sock feet and the body—missing its head, no surprise—was damp.
Horrors! A dead body in the opening paragraph? But it’s only a “headless yellow catnip chicken, aka Fred the Funky Chicken,” which belongs to Owen, one of Kathleen’s two cats. Owen and Hercules have individual superpowers as well as possess a “seemingly uncanny ability to understand” conversations. Owen has “the ability to vanish” at will, and Hercules can walk through walls.
Kathleen has lived in the fictional town of Mayville Heights, Minnesota, on the shores of Lake Pepin for two and a half years. She’s the head librarian of the town library.
The Mayville Heights Free Public Library is a Carnegie library, built in 1912 with money donated by philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. I’d originally come to town to supervise the restoration of the building for its centenary, as well as update the collections and set up Internet access for the library’s patrons. Very quickly the town and its people began to feel like home and when I’d been offered the chance to stay I’d said yes.
The library feels like the heart of the community, and Kathleen has some of the attributes of an unofficial mayor. A crime-solving mayor at that … with whimsical furry assistants.
With a well-placed paw on a keyboard or a pointed stare, Kathleen’s two cats, Hercules and Owen, have helped her to solve cases in the past—so she has learned to trust their instincts. But she will need to rely on them more than ever when a twenty-year-old scandal leads to murder…
The 20-year-old scandal: Leo Janes’s wife left him for his brother, Victor. Tragically, she died in a car accident. Now, Victor—diagnosed with cancer—is back, hoping to repair relations with his brother before it’s too late. Unfortunately, it is too late, and Kathleen is there to witness it.
I knocked on the door. “Leo,” I called. “It’s Kathleen Paulson.”
There was no answer.
I pushed the door open and stepped inside. Please don’t let this be bad, I prayed silently. Please let me find Mia’s grandfather listening to John Coltrane with his headphones on.
But it was bad.
Before the advent of the internet, librarians were like human Google know-it-alls. That’s certainly true of Kathleen, the “kid back in elementary school who had liked to read the encyclopedia for fun.”
Her boyfriend, detective Marcus Gordon, is unsurprised that Kathleen is a witness, again, to a murder; he compliments her detective abilities, even though he “only believed in the facts, in things he could see and touch.” Kathleen never takes statements—even from her talented boyfriend—at face value. For example, she thinks a 20-year estrangement might give Victor a motive to kill his brother. Marcus disagrees, saying, “He had nothing to gain.” Kathleen is inclined to kick the tires on that statement.
I looked at the computer screen again. Marcus had said once that I had the mindset of a detective. I wanted to know the what and the why about everything.
No wonder Kathleen Paulson is such a talented sleuth—she had magical accomplices and a librarian’s mad skills—which makes A Tale of Two Kitties a very entertaining read.
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Janet Webb aka @JanetETennessee has unpredictable opinions on books. Season ticket holder of the Oakland Athletics baseball team. Social media devotee. Stories on royals and politics catch my eye. Ottawa born. Grew up on the books of Helen MacInnes, Mary Stewart, Dorothy L. Sayers, and Anne Perry … I'm always looking for a great new mystery series.
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