Librarian Charlie Harris and his faithful feline companion, Diesel, have inherited Charlie’s grandfather’s house, along with a deadly legacy: a decades-old crime scene, in this all-new mystery in the New York Times bestselling Cat in the Stacks series.
Charlie has always believed that his grandfather had sold his house to his longtime tenant, Martin Hale. So when Martin dies, Charlie is surprised to discover the house was not left to Martin but instead belongs to Charlie. As he and Diesel check out the house he remembers fondly from his childhood, he is pleasantly surprised that it is in better condition than expected. That is, until they find a literal skeleton in a closet.
While the sheriff’s department investigates the mysterious remains, Charlie digs deeper into the past for clues to the identity of the bones and why they are there. But the cold case heats up quickly when Martin’s grandson is found dead on the farm.
As Charlie delves into his own family history, he encounters many people who might have been motivated to take a life. But Charlie and Diesel know that things are not always what they seem, and that secrets seemingly lost to time have a way of finding their way back to haunt the present.
In James's excellent 14th Cat in the Stacks mystery (after 2020's Cat Me If You Can), librarian Charlie Harris is surprised to find himself the owner of his grandfather Robert Harris's farmhouse in Athena, Miss. Robert died in a nursing home over 40 years earlier, and Charlie believed the property was sold shortly before his death. Charlie's son, Sean, who's also his lawyer, reveals Robert only leased the home to Martin Hale for the duration of Hale's own life. With Hale having just died, ownership reverts to Charlie, a shock as well to Hale's grandson, also named Martin, who expected to inherit it. After Charlie visits the farmhouse, his cat, Diesel, finds a human skull and bones in the attic. Meanwhile, the body of grandson Martin turns up on the property, and the timing of the murder leads Charlie to suspect a connection to the remains in the attic. The solution's both fair and satisfying, and Charlie is a plausible investigator and the supporting cast realistic. This entry reinforces James's place in the top rank of cozy authors.