Murder Past Due – Books I Done Been Reading!

Murder Past Due
by Miranda James
A Cat in the Stacks Mystery

A famous author returning to his hometown. An illegitimate son. Family secrets. A former librarian. A cat. What’s that spell? Another mystery book I done been reading!

More mysteries, and more mysteries with animal pals. This time we have a widowed librarian and his cat. After the death of his wife, semi-retired librarian Charlie Harris moved back to his hometown of Athena, Mississippi after his aunt passed and left him a giant house and her black housekeeper, Azalea Berry, which is only slightly embarrassing due to the great pains to show that it was the housekeeper’s idea to stay on working. After stumbling across a Maine Coon kitten one day, Charlie has someone to share his life with again (his two children are grown and moved out at this point)

Diesel ends up joining Charlie everywhere. Diesel even gets walked on a leash! As Diesel is a Maine Coon, expect lots of sequences that go on with random characters remarking how big Diesel is. It sort of reminded me of the Harry Potter books where everyone keeps looking at his scar. Charlie rents out rooms in his house to boarders, and one of the current ones is Justin Wardlaw, whose mother Julia is an old friend of Charlie’s. The town is abuzz as famous author Godfrey Priest has returned. He’s just the kind of arrogant jerk you expect to show up, have a million enemies, and be mysteriously murdered. And he does!

With suspicious falling towards Justin as the prime suspect (what with Priest being his real estranged father and him finding the body!), Charlie and Diesel must put on their detective hats and get to work finding the real killer. They also must avoid the ire of Deputy Kanesha Berry, detective on the case and the daughter of Azalea, who isn’t keen on her mom being a domestic. Despite the tension, Kanesha isn’t given a generic villain role, which is good. At every turn, Charlie and Diesel find out more interesting tidbits about Godrey, and more and more people who have motive to kill him. Around the last 70 pages or so, things get more intense, and Miranda Jones has a way of making you not want to stop until you find out what happened. I don’t want to spoil things, but I like how the events unfolded, it’s nice to see the amateur sleuth not know everything when we go into endgame.

It takes about two seconds on Google to find out Miranda James is actually Dean James, who shares many traits with Charlie Harris (who I’m sure is totally not named after Charlaine Harris, even though she’s mentioned in the book as well!) Diesel has enough personality to make things interesting, without becoming the focus of the mystery. Of course, his lack of magical powers makes his understanding looks and chirps seem preternatural at times. Charlie is alive enough you feel for his character and his loss, and the mindless routine that was his life until Diesel and the murder mystery happened. This is expounded upon more in the next book in the series, but that’s a tale for the next review. And with that sentence, you’ve probably figured out I like this enough to read the sequel. A nice, cozy, regional mystery complete with believable characters and setting. You can’t ask for much more.

Murder Past Due by Miranda James
Books I Done Been Reading! name shamelessly stolen from Vault of Buncheness

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Written by Tars Tarkas

Tars Tarkas

Runs this joint!