Publication Date: May 2011
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Pages: Paperback, 304pp
(Received for review from Berkley/Obsidian)
Purchase: Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, IndieBound
Miranda James on the WEB: website
Miranda James is a pseudonym used by author Dean James. I just wasn't able to find that much information about the author. But the Cat in the Stacks series is an excellent cozy mystery series, readers will love.
Synopsis (Book Blurb):
Everyone in Athena, Mississippi, knows Charlie Harris, the good-natured librarian with a rescued Maine coon cat named Diesel that he walks on a leash. Charlie's returned to his hometown to immerse himself in books, but finds danger lurking right around the corner...
Suspecting that someone is stealing from him, the aging and eccentric James Delacorte wants Charlie to do an inventory on his rare book collection. Soon after they begin, Delacorte is found dead at his desk, leaving Charlie with the bigger task of solving his murder.
Immediately Charlie is suspicious of Delacorte's own family, and relies on the help of Diesel to paw around for clues. The cat-and-mouse game heats up after a highly valued copy of Edgar Allen Poe's Tamerlane goes missing and a second murder occurs. Now Charlie and Diesel must solve the case before the killer strikes a third time - and hope curiosity doesn't kill the cat...
Author Dean James, writing as Miranda James, has created a cozy series that is hard to "classify". Written with a male lead character, Classified as Murder is the second book in the Cat in the Stacks series. James' fans will easily detect his trademark wit and intelligent writing style, while enjoying this fast paced amateur whodunit. James is able to weave an intriguing plot and give the reader three-dimensional characters as well as, a view of small-town Mississippi that will keep them flipping those pages.
Charlie Harris has returned to Athena, Mississippi in hopes of a quieter life after the death of his wife. Having recently found a abandoned Maine coon cat, which he names Diesel, Charlie plans to bury himself in his work and in the books he loves. When he gets the opportunity to classify and inventory a large collection of rare books it seems like a dream come true. But when Charlie meets the family of aging, James Delacorte, it is anything but dream like. Delacorte believes one is his family members is stealing from his extensive collection and wants to figure out what has been stolen and by whom. When he turns up dead shortly after Charlie begins his work, it's up to him and Diesel to figure out whodunit!
Miranda James has created a series that will appeal to many different types of readers. Cozy fans will welcome a cozy series from a male point of view, which is rare in this ever-growing sub-genre. Animal fans, especially cat lovers will love the books other main character, Diesel, a rescued Maine coon cat. And of course readers who love stories that involve books and libraries will find this one enchanting as well. The shelves of rare books described in this novel will have some book collectors drooling.
James does an excellent job developing the characters in the second book in the Cat in the Stacks series. Though readers initially met Charlie and Diesel in Murder Past Due, Classified as Murder begins to show the relationships that they are forming with other members of the town of Athena. In the first book readers found out that Charlie has two adult children. One of them Sean, is a lawyer in Houston. In the second book, Sean shows up on Charlie's doorstep needing a place to stay until he can get back on his feet after quitting his lucrative job. The relationship between Charlie and Sean seems somewhat strained after the death of Charlie's wife, Sean's mother. This book gives the reader more insight into who Charlie is and what gives him his unique perspective on solving mysteries.
Another relationship readers will want to keep an eye on is the relationship between Diesel the Maine coon cat and Dante, Sean's poodle. Diesel seems to take it all in stride as Dante infringes on his territory and the two seem to make fast friends. Readers will also see the relationship between Diesel and Charlie grow even stronger. Diesel seems to be the perfect companion to Charlie now that his wife is gone. I loved the interplay between all of these characters. Each one is three-dimensional and complex. Sean won't tell his father is reasons for leaving Houston. The members of Mr. Delacorte's family are more than a little eccentric. And all the townspeople of Athena seem to have secrets of their own.
The small town and everyone knows everyone attitude of the book, gives this novel a great cozy feel. Having a male lead in a cozy novel is not the norm and I think it opens the sub-genre up to a more extensive audience. It's not just women who read cozies these days and having more of them with male leads will foster a greater male readership. I think James did a remarkable job of creating a series that will appeal to both sexes. There are so many cozies out there today, each book has to have a hook that really gets the readers attention. I think Diesel is really the hook for this series. A sort of side-kick if you will that readers will love reading about.
I liked this book a lot and look forward to more books in the series. It's a fast paced quick read. It's great for a weekend escape curled up by the fire, or laying on the beach. Or in my case lounging in the front porch swing. Readers of all kinds will enjoy the antics of the Delacorte family and the blooming relationships in Athena, along with a great whodunit. Figuring out who killed James Delacorte is only one of the many things to like about Classified as Murder.
Classified as Murder is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.
I'm giving this one 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag!
The publisher has graciously offered a copy of Classified as Murder to one winner from Debbie's Book Bag!
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