Murder of the Cat's Meow: A Scumble River Mystery
by Denise Swanson
Review by Harriet Klausner
Signet Mass Market Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780451237811
Date: 04 September 2012 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
School psychologist and police consultant Skye Denison warns the late Mrs. Alma Griggs to stop haunting her house or else she will not be able to persuade her fiancÚ police chief Wally Boyd to move in with her. Alma does things like breaking items like her Grandma Leonfanti's cookie jar, which fell when she was sitting on his lap kissing him over the good news that his annulment will occur shortly. Dodging Oreo shrapnel, Skye and Wally are frustrated as the dead chaperone insures incidents happen when the pair becomes intimate. Desperate Skye considers an exorcism.
While Wally is in Springfield attending a police chief certification program, Frannie hectically calls her from Bunny Lanes with what she says is an emergency before hanging up. Skye hustles over to the bowling alley owned by Bunny Reid, the mother of her previous boyfriend, Simon. There she finds a mob scene in which Elijah Jacobson has Alexis Hightower dangling in the air by the throat while cuddling his cat Princess with his other hand. Bunny tries to intercede and whacks Skye instead; though that led to Elijah letting go of Alexis.
Skye soon learns that Bunny assisted by Frannie and computer guru Justin started a matchmaking web site CupidsCatsMeow.com (named for a Vegas production) but cat lovers signed on thinking it was exclusive to single feline owners. Ergo they host a cat show with Alexis as the judge in conjunction with speed dating for cat lovers. Though her face reflects her injury, Skye helps with crowd control only to find the murdered corpse of Alexis in the basement.
The eccentric cast starting with the heroine makes for an enjoyable cozy. Skye stays calm throughout though she would like to strangle Mrs. Griggs and Bunny who somehow make life exasperating. Fans of the series know if Bunny is involved, trouble follows. In this case Bunny hid her weekend from her son who would have objected but happens to be in St. Louis; blackening Skye's eye and scratching her face, has her concerned that Simon will be irate with her. The townsfolk and the feline aficionado visitors are an eccentric crowd who insure zaniness is the name of the game in Scumble River.
There are several other subplots involving a storage unit in which Wally needs Skye's help and a friend Spike Yamaguchi investigating government corruption. However, the prime plot is Skye's investigation of the murder of the acrimonious judge with many people having motive and opportunity, but how many would use a cat toy as the strangling weapon, which makes Elijah the prime suspect.
Cozy fans will enjoy the latest madcap maniacal mayhem in Scumble River; center of amusing weirdness. (see Murder of a Creped Suzette).