Double Booked for Death (Black Cat Bookshop)
by Ali Brandon
Cover Artist: Ross Jones
Review by Mel Jacob
Berkley Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780425244975
Date: 06 December 2011 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
The Black Cat Mysteries are a new series from Ali Brandon, a.k.a. Diane Stuckart. Double Booked for Murder features a feisty cat named Hamlet and his keeper, Darla Pettistone, proprietor of Pettistone's Fine Books. Notorious for his independent nature, Hamlet has a habit of dislodging books that may or may not convey messages. This becomes crucial when a famous visiting author is killed.
At first, the police treat the death of novelist Valerie Baylor as a tragic accident, but Darla isn't so sure and digs into events and the behavior of those at a book signing. Noted as a writer of a teen ghost series, Valerie comes across as an impossible chain-smoking bitch. Her fans loved her and the lines at the signing were long, promising record book sales.
One protestor picketed the event with a sign accusing the author of plagiarism. A letter from a Dallas church member had threatened Darla and indicated their plans to picket the signing. Then, Darla notices Valerie's makeup artist is not what she seems. Even her trusted employee Lizzie has a quarrel with the author.
Suspects and possible motives abound. The van that hit and killed Valerie was driven by one of the church members. Someone claimed Valerie had been pushed, but the police found no evidence to support that.
Footsteps in the night and misplaced books signal an intruder, yet Darla and her friend Jake, a former policewoman, find no one. The alarms are on and all the entrances are locked.
The cat is believable, isn't telepathic, and doesn't talk. He rules the bookshop and has a rocky relationship Darla. They tolerate one another, but Hamlet is anything but affectionate. In addition, she has Lizzie, Jake, and a retired professor helping follow the clues. A hunky policeman working on the case provides the romantic interest.
An accomplished writer, Brandon already has another successful mystery series written as Stuckart and several romances under yet other pseudonyms. Other adventures for Darla and Hamlet are sure to follow.