Cat Deck the Halls (Joe Grey Series #13)

Cat Deck the Halls (Joe Grey Series #13)

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by Shirley Rousseau Murphy

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The cats who saved Christmas . . .

The charming seaside village of Molena Point, California, leads one to expect a quiet traditional Christmas surrounded by family and friends—but not this holiday season. Instead of singing carols and climbing into Christmas trees, Joe Grey, feline P.I., is faced with his most difficult case yet—and that's saying

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The cats who saved Christmas . . .

The charming seaside village of Molena Point, California, leads one to expect a quiet traditional Christmas surrounded by family and friends—but not this holiday season. Instead of singing carols and climbing into Christmas trees, Joe Grey, feline P.I., is faced with his most difficult case yet—and that's saying a lot for a wily tomcat who for years has been solving crimes the police can't even crack.

At midnight in the deserted gardens of the shopping plaza, a stranger lies dead beneath the village Christmas tree; the only witness to the shooting is a little child. But when the police arrive, summoned by an anonymous phone call of feline origin, both the body and the child have disappeared. As police scramble for leads, the grey tomcat, his tabby lady, and their tortoiseshell pal, Kit, launch their own unique investigation.

Together Joe Grey, Dulcie, and Kit face their most heartbreaking case yet as they care for the child who may be the killer's next target. Trying to sort out perplexing clues amidst the happiness of the season, they shadow a cast of colorful characters. But neither the police nor their unknown feline assistants are aware that they might have stumbled over the murderer and never known it, until an electrifying final scene when the killer's identity is revealed.

For years Shirley Rousseau Murphy has written tales that have delighted readers and critics alike. With her lyrical prose and fast-paced plotting, Murphy has created another delightfully absorbing trip to a magical place populated by unforgettable characters whom readers have come to think of as friends.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Just in time for Christmas, Murphy brings in feline sleuth Joe Grey to celebrate the season and try to rescue a frightened child in her 14th mystery set in Molena Point, Calif. (after Cat Pay the Devil). Joe's tortoiseshell pal, Kit, discovers and reports a child clinging to a dead man under a Christmas tree. By the time the police arrive the body has disappeared (disposed of by the killer), as has the little girl (hidden by the cats). As Joe and company try to solve the mystery and keep the girl safe, intruders-perhaps linked to each other and the murder-break into Kit's house and a noted artist's studio at the Home for Orphan Children. Murphy's fans will be happy to curl up under a blanket as they savor the finely crafted suspense set against the backdrop of holiday feasts and festivities and the crashing waves of the Pacific. (Dec.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal

In the 13th entry of this mystery series featuring feline private eye Joe Grey and friends, the fantastical talking and crime-solving cats must solve the murder of a man found shot dead with a traumatized child clinging to his side. For libraries where the series is popular.

—Rebecca Vnuk

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Joe Grey Series , #13
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Cat Deck the Halls

A Joe Grey Mystery
By Shirley Murphy

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2007 Shirley Murphy
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780061123955

Chapter One

He reached the village half an hour before midnight, cutting over from San Jose to Highway One, on the coast, the child tucked up warm in the seat behind him. She slept soundly, her faded doll clutched close to her, one of its angel wings tucked beneath the seat belt. He had made a wide nest for her, had filled the floor well with the cheap pillows he'd bought in the first drugstore he came to, and with their two duffel bags. With the blanket laid over, the backseat of the rental car was just like a regular bed. She had a new drawing pad and crayons and a picture book back there, but she hadn't touched them much. Any other six-year-old would be raging for action, bored out of her mind, wanting to run and work off steam—as she once had, he thought sadly, seeing a sharp picture of her when she was smaller, laughing on the park swings and chasing a ball in their walled garden.

Above the highway, the night sky was black, he could see no stars, no moon. The only illumination came from flashing car lights racing north on the freeway as he and the sleeping child headed south from the airport. The car was rocked periodically in bouts of wind and rain, the storm raging and then easing off only toreturn every few miles. He was worn-out from the trip, from the long waits going through security, the delayed schedules and plane changes. He'd made the call from San Jose but had to leave a message, said the flight was delayed, that he'd just swing by and if he saw no light he'd get a motel and they'd be there in the morning. It was too late, tonight, to get anyone out of bed.

He was hungry, though. Their simple supper seemed ages past. He hoped the child would be hungry—if she woke at all. At last, heading downhill into the small seaside village, he left the heavy traffic, passing only three cars, all coming uphill as if maybe going home to the hillside houses behind him. The streets were slick from rain. He rolled his window down and could smell the sea. With the wind easing off, he could hear the surf, too, crashing half a mile ahead; that would be at the end of Ocean Avenue, he remembered from the map.

Driving halfway through the village, he turned up into gentler hills among close-set cottages. Molena Point had no street lamps, its narrow streets were dark beneath the trees. Shining his headlights on street signs, he found the house he wanted, but not by an address, there weren't any house numbers in the village. He wasn't able to see much on the dark streets, but he found his destination by its description and he slowed, looking. Yes, everyone was in bed. He started to get out, to see if there was a note on the door, but something made him pause.

Parking for just a minute, studying the house, he thought he saw movement in the shrubbery, something dark and stealthy. Puzzled, he watched uneasily, then decided it was nothing, just shadows. What was wrong with him? Tired. Tired from the trip, and from tending to the child. Her malaise dragged him down real bad. Though the shifting of shadows was not repeated, still he felt edgy, and did not leave the car; he didn't feel right again until he'd moved on, made a U-turn in the black, empty street and headed back down to the village.

Even in the small business section, the streets were lit only by the soft illumination from shop windows shining down onto the wet sidewalks, and by the softly colored lights of motel signs reflected on the slick, mirroring surfaces. He saw two motels with their vacancy signs lit, but first he moved on, looking for a café. Each shop window gleamed like a small stage set with its own rich wares, diamonds and silver, expensive leather and cashmere, imported china, Italian shoes, oil and watercolor paintings and bronze and marble sculpture, a feast of riches for such a small village. Windows stacked with children's books, too, and with toys, and brightly wrapped Christmas boxes to entice a child with imagined surprises. The quaint restaurants were all closed for the night, their windows dark, nor were there any moving cars on the streets, though it wasn't yet midnight. Just parked cars, maybe left overnight by tourists already asleep in their motel rooms. On this stormy night, even so near Christmas, the whole town had buttoned up early, and he thought of bed with longing. He really was done in after the long flight and then the drive down from San Jose, bone tired and achingly hungry. But most of all, he wanted to get some food into the child before he checked in to a motel and put her to bed. He had not expected all of the village to be closed, not a restaurant lighted, not even a bar, and he passed only a couple of those. Cruising the narrow, tree-sheltered streets not finding what he sought, he parked beside a small shopping plaza and got out. Stood listening, hoping to hear the echo of voices from some unseen café within. He was eager suddenly to hear another human voice, but he could hear nothing but the surf, and the dying wind—as if he'd stepped into some kind of time warp, as if everyone on earth had vanished except himself and the child, as if all the world was suddenly empty.

No voices. No canned Christmas music. No sound of another car on the streets until one lone vehicle turned on to Ocean and approached, moving slowly toward him and then speeding up and going on, the dark-clad driver invisible within the dark interior. A bicycle swished past, too, and turned left, and that made him feel less isolated.


Excerpted from Cat Deck the Halls by Shirley Murphy Copyright © 2007 by Shirley Murphy. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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