Publication Date: 11/05/2013
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: Berkley Prime Crime
Genre: Cozy Mystery
(Received for an honest review from Berkley Prime Crime)
Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, IndieBound
Ali Brandon (aka Diane A.S. Stuckart) on the WEB: Website, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads
Books in the series:
Double Booked for Death (2011), A Novel Way to Die (2012), Words With Friends (2013)
Coverart: Click the image for a larger, clearer view of the covers in this series.
Excerpt from Words With Friends, courtesy of Amazon's Look Inside feature.
Brooklyn bookstore owner Darla Pettistone and her oversized black cat, Hamlet, have solved a few complicated capers. But after a recent brush with danger, Darla needs to get Hamlet out of a feline funk…
Lately, Hamlet hasn’t been chasing customers or being his obnoxious self—something Darla surprisingly misses. Concerned, she hires a cat whisperer to probe Hamlet’s feline psyche and then decides to get out of her own funk by taking up karate to learn how to defend herself in case the need arises again.
But when Darla finds her sensei dead at the dojo, it seems that even a master can be felled by foul play. Darla decides to investigate the matter herself, and the promise of a mystery snaps Hamlet out of his bad mood. After all, Darla may be the sleuth, but Hamlet’s got a black belt in detection…
Ali Brandon brings readers the third book in her Black Cat Bookshop mystery series, Words with Friends. Brandon's trademark wit and her love for animals is ever clear in this latest addition to the series. Hamlet the feline companion of shop owner, Darla is blaming himself for a situation that put Darla in danger. He's in a funk and readers will be delighted with Darla's attempts to get him out of his depression. From cat whisperers to karate tournaments this is one rollicking mystery.
This is such a delightful series. I like all of the elements that Ali Brandon brings to the table with this series, from the bookstore setting to the relationship between cat and owner. In this latest book, Words with Friends, we see a different side of Hamlet, the cat. He is usually bugging the customers and into just about everything but in this one, he's just not himself, which adds a whole new element to the story.
Hamlet is depressed. I never really thought about depression being something that animals experienced until I went a way for a week and left my dog at home. I sent someone to take care of her, feed her, and even play with her, but she refused to eat, moped around and was just a mess while I was away. I thought Brandon did a great job showing Hamlet's condition and why it was so concerning to her. The idea of bringing in a cat whisperer was a great plot point and I thought she really made it believable. It was interesting that all Hamlet really needed was another chance to prove himself to get him right back in tip top shape.
I also liked the idea that Brandon allows her heroine Darla to realize the need for making some changes after her close call. Darla decides that she needs some form of self-protection and karate seems like a good choice for her. I liked that she took Robert with her and that they were making a good thing of it. I even liked the dojo and especially the sensai and I was kind of sad that he became the victim. I thought all of this just added a bit of realism to the story and showed a lot of character development in Darla.
There were plenty of suspects and the mystery was well crafted and easy to follow. I had the motive figured out early on, but not the killer. Brandon kept me guessing throughout and I she did a good job of balancing, Darla's personal and professional lives vs. her amateur sleuthing. Darla is a good heroine for a lot of reasons but most of all I think her love of books and animals really endears her to readers. There were red herrings aplenty and lots of interesting clues. Hamlet was once again the real star of the book and Darla was a close second.
I can't wait to see where Brandon goes next with this intriguing series. I love the scenes in the book shop and the great secondary characters like James and his 'non' dates and Robert and of course Hamlet. This was definitely the best in the series so far.
Words with Friends is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.
I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag!
About the Author:
Ali Brandon is the national bestselling author of the Black Cat Bookshop Mystery series. Under her own name, Diane A.S. Stuckart, she is also the author of the Leonardo da Vinci Mysteries, as well as several acclaimed historical romances and numerous works of short fiction under the names Alexa Smart and Anna Gerard. Born in the West Texas town of Lubbock, she earned her degree in journalism from the University of Oklahoma. She now lives in South Florida with her husband, Gerry, and a menagerie that includes their two orange tabby boys, Butch and Sundance.
The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of Words With Friends by Ali Brandon.
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