Review: The Cats Came Back by Sofie Kelly
The Cats Came Back by Sofie Kelly is the 10th book in the Magical Cats Mystery series.
This mystery has everything you need for the perfect cozy: a small town, a compelling sleuth who has nothing to do with law enforcement, and very special animal sidekicks.
Kathleen Paulson works at the Mayville Heights Free Public Library in a small but beautiful town in Minnesota. Mayville Heights is hosting a music festival to keep the bustling tourism industry alive. The town is filled with visiting musicians, and the tourists have given the live-in artists new projects to work on. Kathleen’s friend Ruby, for example, is not only singing in the festival but is also photographing Kathleen’s cats throughout the town for a tourist-friendly calendar. Kathleen’s cats, Hercules and Owen, are well-known throughout the town, but they do have a secret: Owen can disappear and reappear at will, and Hercules can walk through walls, doors, etc. Kathleen has lived in Mayville Heights for four years, and she’s kept her furry friends’ special abilities a secret—even from her detective boyfriend, Marcus Gordon.
On a photo shoot for the cat calendar, Kathleen, Ruby, and the cats stumble upon a dead body by the river. The victim is a recent arrival to Mayville Heights, brought by the music festival. Kathleen had met the young woman and is deeply saddened, but she’s content to let Detective Marcus Gordon handle the case. Interfering in police work has landed her in hot water in the past, but when some of the people closest to her insist that Kathleen must use her uncanny ability to get people to open up to find the murderer, she can’t help but abide. And amidst all this—the murder, the music festival, the magical cats—there’s going to be a wedding. Not only will Kathleen have to catch a killer but she must help a friend get to the altar as well.
I was a little wary of reading about magical cats, this being my first visit to Mayville Heights, but the cats’ abilities do not take a front seat to the story and only serve to move the plot along. The cats are main characters in the story, however, as Kathleen treats Owen and Hercules as the Watsons to her Sherlock, talking about the minutiae of the case with them and questioning her own sanity when she feels as if she’s reading understanding from their actions. Twice in the book, they take action to help Kathleen in her quest to uncover the truth about the murder. Sure, from time to time Kathleen bounces her ideas off of Detective Gordon, but those conversations only help aim her talk about the details of what they’re both uncovering. It is the cats’ exploits that help to point her in the right direction.
My only complaint with The Cats Came Back is I had a difficult time with some of the background history of Kathleen’s time in Mayville Heights. Since this was my first time reading a Magical Cats Mystery, and this is the 10th in the series, there was quite a bit that I’d missed. Sofie Kelly does a commendable job trying to fill in possible first-time readers with background details about how Kathleen came to live in Mayville Heights, some of the ins and outs of the town, even how the cats came to live with Kathleen, but missing nine books caused some confusion with some of Kathleen’s interpersonal relationships.
While this is not a mystery series I would recommend diving into so late in the game, The Cats Came Back was interesting enough for me to want to go back to book one and learn more. Kathleen Paulson is a great hero, her handsome cats are the perfect sidekicks, and the reader will want to follow not just their efforts to find the murderer but their “arguments” over whether or not the cats can eat human food as well. And there’s a story outside of the murder to keep readers invested, as Kathleen helps her friends in town achieve their happily-ever-afters.