Claws for Alarm (Nick and Nora)
by T.C. LoTempio
Cover Artist: Mary Ann Lasher
Review by Carolyn Frank
Berkley Mass Market Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780425270219
Date: 03 November 2015 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
A former investigative reporter, Nora Charles has returned to her home town to run her recently-deceased mother's sandwich shop. A cat belonging to a vanished PI has inveigled his way into her life. She named the cat Nick, and now he helps her solve mysteries. If you are a fan of the witty repartee in the Nick and Nora Charles hit films, you might cringe. But there is no Claws for Alarm on that regard, since this Nick does not speak.
Nora's sister, Lacey, has been taken into custody for the murder of her bullying art professor, Professor Pitt; the local DA is eager to jam the case through; and Nora knows she needs to learn who really did it as quickly as possible. With Nick providing helpful ideas, often through a set of Scrabble tiles, Nora does her best to solve the crime.
Relying on her ability to charm and useful knowledge provided by the PI's former partner, Nora manages to talk with a wide range of people who might provide insight, from the art professor's peers and students at the art school, to the owner and others involved in a nearby art gallery, from her aunt's crossword puzzle solving childhood friend, to the professor's former and current wives and girlfriends. Although highly improbable as an investigative reporter, she does demonstrate a talent for getting people to tell her useful information. She also manages to get herself into and out of some rather dicey situations, armed with little more than curiosity and quick-thinking.
This is a book where all women are either drop-dead gorgeous or barely there, where the most important piece of a woman's outfit are her designer brand shoes, and men are either hunks or slimy. At least Nick is credible for being an always-eager-to-eat, highly over-weight tuxedo cat. He is rather less believable at his amazing powers of deduction and communication, but both are needed to keep the plot going.
This is the second in a Nick and Nora Mysteries series, designed to provide cat-loving mystery readers with fur-based entertainment, and foodies with hearty sandwich recipes (from the sandwich shop). If you like your cozies with a cat, and with food and shoes described with flair, you should enjoy this Nick and Nora saving the day.