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The beautiful, serene village of Molena Point, California is the type of place where people go to get away from the harsher realities of life––which is what attracted classic film star Patty Rose to buy the village inn, and settle down to enjoy her golden years. But as the town gathers to celebrate and honor the beautiful, aging actress with a festival of her old films, Patty is brutally murdered––to the horror and shock of this peaceful burg.
A gentle tortoiseshell cat, Kit, has been enjoying a retreat to the animal–loving actress's inn, where she's spending time with her feline friends Dulcie, and the slick tomcat sleuth, Joe Grey. But her relaxation is cut short when she hears the gunshots that end Patty's life, and sees her dead body sprawled on the inn's front steps. She glimpses the killer racing into the parking garage, and soon follows his trail.
Joe and Dulcie must now follow the naïve Kit's trail, and keep her from getting into serious trouble. To complicate matters, Joe discovers that Dulcie has been hiding a runaway child––one of the lucky humans that these special cats choose to talk to––who has now been kidnapped, likely by the same man who killed their famous friend. In the end, the little girl's abduction leads them to Patty's killer, and the feline friends are all united––but they all must mourn a departed friend as they stand beside the newly laid grave of Patty Rose.
The beginning of Murphy's 10th Joe Grey mystery (after 2004's Cat Fear No Evil) signals that this won't be your typical light cat cozy ("On winter evenings the shadow of a tall, old house struck down across the graves like a long black arrow, and from the canyon below, errant winds sang to the small, dead children"). True, talking tomcat Joe Grey and his comrades, Dulcie and Kit, can squinch their furry paws to punch in 911 or phone in anonymous leads to Molena Point's police captain, Max Harper. These descendants of ancient sentient Celtic cats can also read forensics reports like CSI experts and interact with humans who guard their secret, but this time, such antics take a backseat to the gravity of the murder of local inn owner and retired screen star, Patty Rose, as well as the plight of Lori, a young runaway hiding in a library basement cubby hole, and the discovery of a child predator lurking in the California coastal town. A skilled YA author, Murphy handles such sensitive issues as child endangerment and death well. The large cast of characters may confuse new readers, but established fans will welcome back all their old friends, both feline and human.