By: Shirley Rousseau Murphy
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: November 2011
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: November 2011
As everyone knows (or, should by now) these amazingly fun, entertaining characters have been the plot of sixteen novels thus far, and this 17th title is all about mystery and suspense, wrapped up in the hope, joy and peace of the holiday season. Our main character, as always, is the fantastic cat - Joe Grey - a Private Investigator who helps his human friends solve crimes.
This black Tomcat has been a reader’s favorite feline for a long time, and this is certainly a tale that will get everyone into the holiday mood. The book opens with Joe waking up from a nightmare and trying to remember exactly what it was all about. Joe is used to his everyday life in the stunning coastal village of Molena Point, but as the economy worsens around the globe, Molena Point does not escape the troubled times. Because of the economic circumstances there have been foreclosures aplenty, which is causing families to move and leave their pets behind…to fend for themselves. Joe’s human family, the Flannerys - along with all of their friends - are doing their best to help care for the animals who need to be fed and kept warm.
Suddenly a fire occurs that costs a woman her life, and also leaves a frightened twelve-year-old boy without a home. When Joe finds out about this he’s more than a little freaked out, because he thinks he saw the victim of the fire in his nightmare arguing with someone else. And frankly, it feels to Joe like this is a serious case of foul play.
Along comes Debbie Kraft, a woman who claims to know Ryan Flannery from art school. She shows up on the doorstep of the Flannerys' with an odd story about how her ex-husband took all of her money and she and her two children are now homeless. The victim of the ‘odd’ fire was Debbie's mother, and Joe soon learns that Debbie Kraft is nowhere near broke.
Joe is beyond suspicious and it gets worse when he meets up with Debbie Kraft's own tomcat who she abandoned back in her hometown; a cat who has followed his old owner and speaks with Joe about some seriously freaky things that happened in the human world that he saw. Joe and his feline friends definitely do go on the prowl, and the case grows wider and wider with everything from real estate scams to a missing person.
This installment is truly heartwarming. Millions of animals are abandoned every year. Most cannot survive on their own in the outside world and many end up dying. This book was not only dedicated to the wonderful human beings who help and support their pets, but the author also wrote in a little ‘feline romance’ to get the holiday season started off just right.
Quill Says: A perfect little mystery. Joe Grey is the ultimate hero, and the message of love behind this tale is one that everyone should learn.