Publication Date: 03/04/2014
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
Rebecca M. Hale on the WEB: website, twitter, facebook, goodreads
Books in the series:
How to Wash a Cat (2008), Nine Lives Last Forever (2010), How to Moon a Cat (2011), How to Tail a Cat (2012), How to Paint a Cat (2014)
Coverart: Click the Image for a larger, clearer view of the covers in this series.
Excerpt from, How to Paint a Cat, courtesy of Amazon's Look Inside feature.
WHAT’S WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE?
San Francisco isn’t the biggest city in the country, but it feels pretty vast when you’re canvassing its neighborhoods looking for clues to your missing uncle’s hidden location. Aided by my two cats, Rupert and Isabella, I try to follow Uncle Oscar’s painted clues on a trail that leads from Coit Tower’s famous murals through San Francisco’s New Deal art—all while hoping my uncle’s sudden disappearance is unrelated to the murdered intern at City Hall.
Just when it seems our search has hit a wall, we receive some surprising help from beyond. But will it be enough to save us from our own brushes with death? Here’s hoping we don’t paint ourselves into a corner…
The fifth installment in Rebecca M. Hale's Cats and Curios series brings readers a little closer to finding out what Uncle Oscar is up to. How to Paint a Cat centers around the murder of an intern, clues in the murals of San Francisco and two feline heroes. Hale knows how to draw out a mystery and fans of the series will on the edge of their seats wondering if Uncle Oscar will finally be revealed. The history of the beautiful city of San Francisco plays an important role in this series and history buffs, as well as, mystery fans will love the connection. Art enters into the picture as well, as Rupert and Isabella come face to face with a whole lot of paint!
What I liked:
This series has a very interesting set up. How to Paint a Cat is somewhat confusing and definitely not a book that should be read out of sequence in the series. The main thread runs through the entire series which is now up to five books. Uncle Oscar was the owner of The Green Vase antique shop until his death. His niece and her two cats Rupert and Isabella take over the shop and begin to find clues to the death of Uncle Oscar and several treasures he had dating back to San Francisco during the time of the Gold Rush. Readers will find out a little more about Uncle Oscar and how he relates to the history of San Francisco with each book. The point of view of each book in the series including the latest book, shifts between the two cats, and several other characters in the book, which is also a bit hard to sort out on occasion. The idea of how this series could work is quite intriguing, the problem comes in with the execution of the idea.
How to Paint a Cat is book five in the Cats and Curios series. Readers are still looking for clues that lead to Uncle Oscar. There is a vast amount of historical detail in this series and this book in particular delves in the art and murals that are so much a part of the city of San Francisco. Hale has done some serious research on all aspects of the city of San Fran and readers who also might be history buffs will love the attention to detail, the descriptive parts of the novel that deal with the Gold Rush and Hale's keen sense of knowing what makes this city so unique. San Francisco takes on all the characteristics of a character.
Rupert and Isabella, the feline heroes of this series are back. Though sometimes these kitties seem more human than animal, there point of view is extremely entertaining. Hale uses a lot of humor where the cats are concerned and that gives the novel a lighter side that cat lovers will fall for. Parts of the book are told from the cat point of view, which can be a little confusing but definitely worth the time to figure out. This isn't a coaster. This is a book you have to pay close attention to.
Another interesting feature is that the protagonist, Rebecca, is rarely named. Readers see things from her point of view quite often in the book, but because she is shy and quiet, we don't really know who she is for the most part. That can be a good thing or a bad thing. In this case I think the author wants the main spotlight to be on the cats and the overall mystery of Uncle Oscar and not on the cat's person, if you will. That can create a disconnect between what readers believe the main viewpoint should be, but if readers relax and try to think outside the box a little bit, I think they will find it interesting.
The addition of the intern's ghost helped this book with several hurdles. It gave it a sort of mystery within a mystery feel, which is always good. Readers had to find out who killed the intern and how it applied to the overall mystery of Uncle Oscar. The ghost aspect of things gave the book a paranormal twist that will bring in a different kind of reader. It was just a nice addition.
What I didn't like:
Ok, it's book five. I think we should be little bitter closer to finding out the details of Uncle Oscar's death by now. I feel like we don't know anything more than we did in the beginning. We have learned more about the history of San Francisco in this series than we have about the actual mystery.
This series has an interesting premise but I think it falls a bit short of it's potential. There are just too many confusing aspects of the story to try to keep straight. The historical aspects are well written but I think the author relies on that a little too much to carry the story. I'm not quite sure this is the kind of mystery that cozy readers are looking for. But as with most things, take it with a grain of salt. Read it and see what you think.
How to Paint a Cat is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.
I'm giving this one 3 out of 5 apples from my book bag!
About the Author:
REBECCA M. HALE lives in Western Colorado with her feline writing associates - when she's not off researching future books set in San Francisco, the Caribbean, or wherever else her wandering spirit takes her.
The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of How to Paint a Cat by Rebecca M. Hale.
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