When Charlie Harris decides to go back to school, he and his Maine Coon cat, Diesel, find themselves entangled in a deadly lovers quarrel on campus in the latest installment of the New York Times bestselling series.
In addition to his library duties and his role as doting grandad, Charlie has enrolled in an early medieval history course offered by young, charismatic professor Carey Warriner. Charlie feels a bit out of place- his fellow classmates are half his age- except for Dixie Bell Compton, another ‘mature’ student. When Charlie hears an angry exchange between her and their professor, his interest in piqued. He’s even more intrigued when she shows up at his office asking for a study partner. Charlie turns her down and is saddened to learn just a few days later that Dixie has been killed.
Charlie wonders if Professor Warriner had anything to do with Dixie’s death. Warriner is married to a fellow professor who happens to be a successful author. There are rumors on campus that their marriage was on the rocks. Was Dixie's death the result of a lovers’ triangle gone bad? Charlie soon discovers that the professor’s wife may have some secrets of her own and his suspect list is only getting longer.
As he and Diesel step further into the tangled web of relationships, someone else is viciously killed. Whose jealousy finally erupted into murderous rage? Was it a crime of passion or is there another more sinister motive? Charlie races to unravel this mystery: and to draw out the culprit, he may just have to put his own life on the line…
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The Pawful Truth Comes Out
The Pawful Truth is a fun and sagacious 11th installment in the Cat in the Stacks series by Miranda James. Charlie Harris, along with his trusty Maine Coon cat, Diesel, enjoys the world of academia while inadvertently solving mysteries along the way. The current mystery involves a “mature” student, several professors, and a Shakespearean plot – all the ingredients you need for a puzzling murder mystery.
What I liked:
The college local is a perfect cozy setting. The small college town is a tight-knit community, imperative for a cozy mystery, but also has many people coming in and out as students and professors come and go. This setting allows for new characters and new mysteries while never feeling contrived.
The solution to the mystery was believable but not predictable. One of the hardest but most essential parts of any cozy is to get the balance between red herrings and actual clues just right. The Pawful Truth is an excellent example of how to do that very thing, which enhances the story.
Charlie Harris is refreshing as a detective in a world that is dominated by female sleuths. There are some male detectives of note in this genre, but they are few and far between. Charlie is an easy-going member of the college and surrounding community, making him relatable to the characters and readers alike.
Diesel is every inch a Maine Coon cat complete with the breeds many quirks and proclivities. I own a female Maine Coon cat, so it was particularly enjoyable to me to read about Diesel’s antics. From the characteristic trills and warbles they make to their unusual ability to understand and react to human words; Maine Coons are a remarkable breed, and I loved seeing them celebrated in the series.
What I Wish
Some parts were not written in such excruciating detail. Several dialogue sections in the novel were overly detailed, which leads to minor frustration in the reader who is looking for more of the items that move the plot along. This detail did not happen so often as to impact the reading experience negatively, but it was noticeable.
More depth to Charlie. Charlie came off as two dimensional. This lack of character development is not uncommon is a cozy mystery, but I still would have loved to have had more depth into his character. I am new to the series, so there may be more depth provided in the previous novels, but in this story, that was something I noted.
To Read or Not to Read
If you are a fan of cozy mysteries and(or) cats, this is the perfect book and perfect series for you. It’s smart and fun and gives you a great puzzle to solve. Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
11th A Cat in the Stacks Mystery
The Pawful Truth by Miranda James is the eleventh A Cat in the Stacks Mystery. There is background information in the first half of The Pawful Truth to aid those who are new to A Cat in the Stacks Mystery. Personally, I suggest you begin with Murder Past Due. I always enjoying picking up the latest installment in A Cat in the Stacks Mystery series. Charlie Harris has always been interested in medieval history, so he decides to audit Dr. Carey Warriner’s class. While Dr. Warriner is a captivating instructor, his behavior outside the classroom leaves a lot to be desired. The green monster seems to have taken a hold on Dr. Warriner with regard to his lovely wife, Irene. After two people end up murdered, the Ducote sisters (on the board of Athena College) visit Charlie. They want him to delve into the case to help Kanesha Berry wrap it swiftly. I thought The Pawful Truth was well-written and the pace moved along steadily. Athena, Georgia is a small Southern college town with charming shops and some quirky residents. I like the cast of characters which includes Charlie, Diesel, Melba, Azalea, Helen Louise, Stewart, Haskell, the Ducote Sisters, and, the newest member, Ramses. I like that Charlie is an older protagonist along with his love of books. He is a good man who loves his family, friends and fur babies. Charlie’s family is included so we can find out how his daughter-in-law is doing after her bout with postpartum depression. I can tell that the author has cats from the way she describes their behavior especially Ramses. When Ramses uses Charlie’s leg for a climbing tree, she perfectly described how it feels to have those sharp little claws digging into your leg. I just love Diesel’s little chirps. Those two cats are such charmers and their antics had me chuckling. The mystery had several viable suspects and there were good clues. It is a whodunit that can be solved before the solution is revealed, but that did not deter my enjoyment of this cozy mystery. I did feel there was to much speculation and repetition of case details. I did like seeing more of Miss Dickce Ducote. She has a mischievous side that likes to come out now and then. We also get to meet to two new ladies who are administrative assistants at the college, and they provide some helpful information. The Pawful Truth has rampant gossip, two suspicious deaths, a curious kitten, a distrustful spouse, a tolerant Maine Coon Cat, and an admittingly nosey librarian.