Mystery & Mayhem: Ali Brandon, Literally Murder

(Parts of this taken as a blurb over at my Goodreads page)

Literally Murder

Nutshell: Literally Murder fits in nicely with the rest of the Black Cat Bookshop series, though the change of venue from the bookshop to Florida left me pining for the usual gang. All-in-all it was worth it to see Darla and Hamlet deepen their friendship. Grade: B+

I really do enjoy a good “cozies” series.  And this one is a whole lot of fun.  No magic cats, or cats that can speak (not that those are necessarily bad things); simply a woman and her Scooby Gang that manage to suss out whodunnit.  Oh yeah, and a cat that always seems to have just the right book-related clue. I’d have reviewed the earlier books in this series, but honestly?  I read ’em all pretty quickly.  So here goes with Book 4 of the series…

Basic 411 Alert: Darla Pettibone is a Texas gal who inherits her aunt Dee’s Brooklyn bookshop.  Along with the store, she also inherits manager stuffy/sweet/loyal intellectual James, lower apartment renter/retired cop Jake (short for Jaqueline), and black cat/panther wannabe Hamlet.  Hamlet seems to be able to understand what’s going on around him, sometimes better than his human compatriots.  His ability to “thunk” a book off the shelf — one that always has some tie-in to the case at hand — is as spot-on as his ability to determine someone’s quality of character.  As the series progresses (Double-Booked For Death, A Novel Way to Die, Words With Fiends), Darla bonds not only with Hamlet, but with those around her.

Literally Murder takes the action away from the bookstore and into Miami.  While the premise is a good one — Hamlet gets cat-video famous thanks to his shenanigans in Words With Fiends and is invited to be a guest of honor at a Ft. Lauderdale cat show — I do miss the day-to-day with James, Robert and Detective Reese.  Luckily Jake is on the Miami scene.  And I can’t quite hate the idea of putting these characters out of their usual environment; otherwise half of Brooklyn would be dead by the time this series ends…

Brandon obviously does her research; while she readily admits that Ft. Lauderdale may not be exactly how she describes it in Literally, her knowledge of cat shows, animal rescue/shelters and even Cuba pastries (yum) left me feeling that I’d not only enjoyed the story, but picked up a trivia tidbit or two.  Still, I’d have liked to have seen more of the mystery during the show itself; Brandon’s way of describing the activities had me definitely wanting more in that regard.

Cat-apathetic Darla and lone wolf kitty Hamlet seem to be bonding more with each book.  And who doesn’t love a shout-out to rescue societies?  Miami was fun, but I’ll be glad to see Hamlet & Co. back in their usual digs.  Looking forward to Hamlet’s next outing.

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