In this charming mystery from the bestselling author of Paws and Effect, two magical cats have powers of detection that prove indispensable to librarian Kathleen Paulson…
With a well-placed paw on a keyboard or a pointed stare, Kathleen’s two cats, Hercules and Owen, have helped her to solve cases in the past—so she has learned to trust their instincts. But she will need to rely on them more than ever when a twenty-year-old scandal leads to murder…
The arrival of the Janes brothers has the little town of Mayville Heights buzzing. Everyone of a certain age remembers when Victor had an affair with Leo’s wife, who then died in a car accident.
Now it seems the brothers are trying to reconcile, until Kathleen finds Leo dead. The police set their sights on Leo’s son and Kathleen’s good friend Simon, who doesn’t have much of an alibi. To prove her friend innocent, Kathleen will have to dig deep into the town's history—and into her sardine cracker supply, because Owen and Hercules don't work for free...
About the Author
Sofie Kelly is a New York Times bestselling author and mixed-media artist who lives on the East Coast with her husband and daughter. She writes the New York Times bestselling Magical Cats Mysteries (Paws and Effect, Faux Paws, A Midwinter’s Tail) and, as Sofie Ryan, writes the New York Times bestselling Second Chance Cat Mysteries (Telling Tails, A Whisker of Trouble, Buy a Whisker).
Read an Excerpt
***This excerpt is from an advance uncorrected copy proof***
You’d think by now it wouldn’t bother me to step on a body in the middle of the kitchen floor, but I was in my sock feet and the body—missing its head, no surprise—was damp.
With cat slobber.
“Owen!” I yelled, hopping on one foot while I rubbed the other against my pant leg.
The cat stuck his gray tabby head around the living room doorway and looked at me, face tipped quizzically to one side.
“Come and get this,” I said, pointing at the headless yellow catnip chicken, aka Fred the Funky Chicken, I’d just stepped on.
He craned his neck to see what I was referring to, then gave a murp of recognition almost as though he were saying, “So that’s where I left it.” He came across the floor, picked up the chicken body in his mouth and deposited it next to his food dish beside the refrigerator, nudging it out of the way with one paw. Then he turned to look at me.
“Thank you,” I said. I leaned down to pick up the few bits of catnip that had fallen out of the mangled cat toy. Owen had a thing for catnip in general, and neon-yellow chickens stuffed with it in particular, and I had friends who bought them for him just about as fast as he could chew them apart.
I dumped the bits of dried catnip in the garbage and reached for my shoes on the mat near the back door.
“Mrr?” Owen said.
“I have a meeting at the library.”
He immediately raised his paw and took a couple of passes at his face with it. Then he crossed to sit in front of the kitchen door.
I knew what that meant. “No, you can’t come with me,” I said.
He glanced over his shoulder at me. “Mrr,” he said again.
I shook my head. “You can’t come. Cats don’t belong at the library.” They didn’t belong at the library, but both of mine had ended up there more than once. “Just because I’m the head librarian doesn’t mean that you and your brother get special privileges.”
Owen narrowed his golden eyes. His whiskers twitched, and then he disappeared.
Literally. It was his superpower, so to speak, the way the Flash could run faster than anyone else on the planet, although I was pretty sure Owen hadn’t gotten his ability due to the explosion of a particle accelerator during a thunderstorm.
I’d gotten very blasé about Owen’s ability to just vanish whenever he wanted to. I remembered how it had made me think I was losing my mind the first few times I’d seen it happen, and then the stomach-churning fear I’d felt when I realized what could happen to him and his brother, Hercules, if anyone had found out about my cats’ unbelievable abilities. Hercules couldn’t become invisible at will; he could walk through walls. Both cats also had a seemingly uncanny ability to understand what was said to them. And now, to make things ten times more complicated, I was almost positive that Marcus’s little ginger tabby, Micah, had the same vanishing skill as Owen.
My Marcus. Detective Marcus Gordon, who only believed in the facts, in things he could see and touch. If I was right about Micah there was a lot I’d need to explain. Not that I had any explanation. All three cats came from the old Henderson estate, Wisteria Hill. That had to have something to do with their abilities. I just had no idea what.
I’d sold my car when I’d moved to Mayville Heights from Boston two and a half years ago to supervise the renovations at the library. I spent my first few weeks in town exploring, walking for miles, which is how I’d stumbled on Wisteria Hill. At the time the property was abandoned. Now my friend Roma owned it, and the old farmhouse was full of life again. Back then it had seemed lonely and forgotten.
Owen and Hercules had peeked at me from a tangle of raspberry canes, two tiny balls of fur, and then trailed me while I explored the overgrown English country garden behind the old house. When I left, they’d followed me down the rutted gravel driveway. Twice I’d picked them up and carried them back to the empty house, but they were undeterred. They were so tiny and so determined to come with me that in the end I’d given up and brought them home. They were affectionate with me, but I’d quickly learned that because they had been feral they didn’t tolerate anyone else touching them.
I stepped into my red Keds and bent down to tie the laces. “You’re wasting your time,” I said in the general direction of the last place I’d seen Owen. “You can’t go with me in the truck because I’m going to walk.”
I counted silently to three and he appeared again.
“I’m sorry,” I said. “I’m going to a meeting. You’d be bored.”
Owen made grumbling noises in the back of his throat and turned his head, pointedly looking away from me.
“I think you left a Funky Chicken in my closet,” I said.
One gray ear twitched but he still didn’t look at me.
“Look in my black pumps.”
Owen shook himself and started across the kitchen floor. “Mrr,” he said softly when he got to the living room doorway.
“You have a good day, too,” I said.
It was a gorgeous morning as I started down Mountain Road. The sun was high in the sky over Lake Pepin and it was already warmer than the typical high for a day in early November.
It had been a while since I’d walked to the library. It was something I used to do every day. When I’d discovered everything I wanted to do was within walking distance, I hadn’t bought a car. Eventually, Harrison Taylor had gifted me with a truck that could make it through even the worst Minnesota snow, a thank-you because I’d discovered some papers that had helped him find his daughter. Harrison’s son, Harry Junior, took care of the yard work at my small house. The old man and I had met when he’d accompanied his son one day. I’d stepped into my backyard and for a moment thought Santa Claus was sitting on one of my Adirondack chairs. Harrison and I had quickly become good friends.
Mountain Road curves in toward the center of town, so as I headed down the hill the roof of the library building came into view. The library sits just about at the midpoint of a curve of shoreline, protected from the water by a rock wall. The two-story brick building has an original stained-glass window at one end and a copper-roofed cupola, complete with the restored wrought-iron weather vane that had been placed on the roof when the library had been completed more than a hundred years ago.
The Mayville Heights Free Public Library is a Carnegie library, built in 1912 with money donated by philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. I’d originally come to town to supervise the restoration of the building for its centenary, as well as update the collections and set up Internet access for the library’s patrons. Very quickly the town and its people began to feel like home and when I’d been offered the chance to stay I’d said yes.
At the bottom of the hill I waited for two cars to pass and then crossed over to the same side of the street as the library. My friend Maggie, who was an artist, had created a collage map of the hiking trails in the area for the new Tourism Coalition that would be ready to hand out in the spring. Now Everett Henderson had her working on some ideas for a similar map of Mayville Heights. Everett had financed the repairs to the library as a gift to the town. The self-made businessman knew how to get things done and I felt confident that we’d have a town map by spring.
Ella King drove past me, waving when she caught sight of me. I waved back. I was guessing that she had just dropped her husband, Keith, at the library for the same meeting I was headed to.
Several weeks previous, a crew working on renovations to the main post office had torn down a wall and discovered a small cache of photos and undelivered mail. No one had any idea how it had all ended up there. Based on the postmarks, the mail had been behind the wall a bit more than twenty years. Some of the photos were of the same vintage, others were much older. The letters and cards had all been delivered, but no one was quite sure what to do with the photos, and before I knew what was happening the library board had offered to take them. Several days later a small cardboard box had been delivered to the library.
Mary Lowe and I had opened the box at the front desk and looked through the photos. Mary was my most senior employee. I’d hoped she might recognize some of the people in the pictures. In the end she’d taken seven photos to give to, if not their original owners, at least to family who’d probably be happy to have them.
As far as the post office was concerned the photos were now the property of the library. I hated the thought of them sitting in a box on a shelf in our workroom. What I wanted to do was reunite the pictures with the people in them or at least a family member. I thought of how much fun my sister and brother and I had gotten from looking at old photos a friend of our parents had unearthed from early in their acting careers. I knew there had to be people who would treasure these images if I could just find them. That’s what this meeting was about.
Maggie was coming because I knew whatever we ended up doing would benefit from her artistic eye. Rebecca Henderson and Keith King were on the library board. Rebecca was a long-time member, while Keith was the newest addition, and I felt both of them would have some good suggestions. I’d also asked Sandra Godfrey, who was a mail carrier now but who had worked in the main post office at one time, to join us.
It looked like I was right about Ella having dropped off Keith. He was standing on the walkway in front of the building, talking to Abigail Pierce, another of my staff members. She was wearing a chocolate-brown coat sweater she’d knit herself, which went well with her red hair streaked with gray. Abigail was also an author and I was hearing lots of great buzz about her new children’s book.
Keith caught sight of me and smiled. He was about average height, wiry and strong with dark hair and a pair of black-and-stainless-steel-framed glasses. The glasses were new in the last month. “Hey, Kathleen,” he said, nudging one corner of the frames.
“Good morning,” I said. I pulled my keys out of my pocket and started up the library steps. “Why don’t you come wait inside?”
“You sure?” he asked.
I nodded. “You can have a cup of coffee before the meeting starts.”
“I can’t say no to that.” He grinned.
I unlocked the doors, shut off the alarm system and we stepped inside.
Abigail had switched on the main floor lights. She started for the stairs. “I’ll put the coffee on,” she said over her shoulder.
“You mind if I take a look at the magazines?” Keith asked.
I shook my head. “Go ahead. I’ll let you know when the coffee’s ready.”
I went upstairs and dropped my things in my office. It only took five minutes to get set up for the meeting since I’d gotten the room ready before I’d left the previous day.
“Napkins,” Abigail said, poking her head around the doorway.
“Thanks,” I said, taking them from her. I looked around the room. There were enough chairs around the long table, I’d brought down a whiteboard and there was a carafe of coffee along with another of hot water for tea.
Maggie arrived about five minutes after we opened. I was at the circulation desk sorting the books from the book drop when she walked in. She smiled when she saw me and walked across the mosaic tile floor to join me.
“Good morning. Is this really November?” she asked, unzipping her jacket. “I think it was colder in September than it is today.”
“According to the forecast we could hit close to seventy this afternoon,” I said.
“Global warming or something else?” Maggie cocked her head to one side and eyed me. “I know you know.”
“A weak La Niña that developed in October,” I said, feeling a little like that kid back in elementary school who had liked to read the encyclopedia for fun—which was exactly the kind of kid I had actually been.
Maggie grinned, playing with the fringe of the multi-colored scarf she’d wrapped twice around her neck. “You’re better than Google!”
I grinned back at her. “And I work even when there’s no Wi-Fi!”
“Am I the first one here?” She looked around the main floor of the library.
“Keith’s here,” I said, gesturing in the direction of the meeting room.
Just then Harry Taylor walked into the building. He looked around and when he saw us raised a hand to get my attention and headed over.
“Morning,” he said, nodding at both of us.
Harry was in his late fifties. There were deep lines carved around his green eyes from years of working in the sun, and the fringe of salt-and-pepper hair peeking out from under his Twins baseball cap was pretty much the only hair he had left. He was a quiet, thoughtful man, and very well read, I knew.
“I was hoping I’d catch you before it got busy, Kathleen,” he said. “I’ve pretty much done all I can do on those shelves in the workshop. Next step is to get them put together here.”
Harry was building a shelving unit to fit on one wall of our upstairs workroom. I was hoping that would help us finally get the space organized.
“I can get everything moved out of the way this afternoon,” I said. “You can get started tomorrow if you want to.”
“Sounds good,” he said. “And I’ll be back this afternoon to fix the broken seat in the gazebo.”
“You’re putting shelves in the workroom?” Maggie asked.
I nodded. “On the end wall that’s common with my office. And not just shelves. Harry is making a cupboard we can lock with a drawer underneath. That whole wall will be storage.”
Maggie turned to Harry. “Could you do something like that for me at my studio? I need a better way to organize supplies.”
“What did you have in mind?” he asked, pulling a small notebook and a pencil out of the pocket of his green quilted vest.
Maggie looked at me. “Do I have time to talk to Harry?” she asked.
I nodded. “Go ahead.”
They started toward a nearby cluster of tables, Maggie’s hands moving through the air as she talked.
I set the pile of books by my elbow on a cart as Susan came from the computer area, where she’d just booted up all of our public-access computers for the day.
“I have about half of the books from the book drop sorted,” I told her. “It’s almost time for the meeting to get started, so I’m just going to run up to my office for a minute.”
“I’ll finish the this,” she said, sliding into the chair behind the counter and reaching for the handle at the side to raise the seat.
Susan was tiny, barely five feet tall in her sock feet. She wore retro cat’s-eye glasses that made her look like anything but a stereotypical bespectacled librarian, and her dark curly hair was always pulled up in a topknot secured with anything from a pencil to a chopstick. This morning her hair seemed to be held in place with two white golf tees.
“And if you need me—,” I began.
“Don’t worry,” Susan said, pulling one of the rolling carts closer. “Abigail and I can handle things. If anyone gets out of line I can give them the Mom Look, and Mary taught Abigail some kind of one-legged takedown maneuver that kickboxers use.”
Mary—who looked like the sweet grandmother she was—was also the state kickboxing champion for her age. I didn’t want to think about what maneuver she’d taught to Abigail.
“Then I’ll just leave things in your capable hands . . . and feet,” I said, heading for the stairs.
Up in my office I grabbed a pen and a notebook. Then I stood for a moment by the wide window behind my desk and looked out over the water. For me, one of the most beautiful parts of Mayville Heights was the waterfront, with all the big elm and black walnut trees that lined the shore, and the Riverwalk trail that made its way from the old warehouses at the point, past the downtown shops and businesses, all the way out beyond the marina. I could see the barges and boats go by on the water just the way they had more than a hundred years ago.
As I headed back down the stairs Sandra Godfrey came into the building. Rebecca was with her. The latter was carrying a large, round metal cookie tin and I knew there would be something good inside.
“Are we late?” Sandra asked. Her sandy blond hair was parted in the middle and pulled back into a low ponytail. She wore jeans and a red cable-knit sweater with a navy quilted vest over the top. Even in flat sneakers she was several inches taller than my five foot six. Rebecca seemed very tiny beside her.
I shook my head. “You’re right on time.”
Rebecca handed me the cookie tin. “Mary’s cinnamon rolls,” she said. Her blue eyes twinkled. “She said the leftovers are for the staff.”
“That’s assuming there will be any leftovers,” I said with a smile.
It turned out to be a productive meeting. Everyone liked the idea of returning the photos to the people in them, or at least to their families. Sandra asked about leaving the box of pictures at the circulation desk and encouraging people to look through them when they came in. I explained that many of the photos were dry and brittle and wouldn’t stand up to a lot of handling. Keith suggested putting them on a large table and covering them with a piece of glass. I thought that idea had potential and he volunteered to price the glass for me. Rebecca and Sandra offered to stay behind and sort through the pictures again. Rebecca had spent her whole life in Mayville Heights and Sandra had been a mail carrier for years. Between the two of them they knew a lot of people in town and I was hopeful they would find some faces they recognized.
I walked Maggie to the front entrance. “You were quiet,” I said.
She ran a hand over her blond curls. “I like Keith’s idea to display the pictures,” she said. “But I think we need a way to get more people in here to look at them.”
“Any suggestions?” I asked.
She frowned. “I don’t know yet. Do you think I could come back and take a look though the photos some other time?”
I nodded. “Of course. Just let me know what works for you.”
She hugged me, promised she’d call about the photos and left.
I went back to the meeting room to tidy up. Rebecca and Sandra had taken the box of photos and moved to a table in the main part of the library. I tucked the chairs in against the table and opened the window blinds about halfway to let a little sun in. Abigail tapped me on the shoulder and when I turned around she handed me a coffee mug.
“Oh, thank you,” I said. “You read my mind.” I took a long drink.
“Dishes are done,” she said, “and there are three cinnamon rolls left for our break.”
I wrapped both hands around my cup. “Thank you,” I said. The seniors’ quilting group was set up in our other meeting room and I could see Susan through the open door, checking someone out at the circulation desk. It was going to be a busy day.
The temperature was in the high sixties by lunchtime, so I decided to go for a walk. Marcus was out of town taking a course on crisis negotiation. He’d left a message on my voice mail and when I called him back I’d had to settle for doing the same.
I walked down along the Riverwalk as far as the hotel before turning back. I knew that a month from now the wind would be coming in off the water and pulling at the tree branches, so I was glad to take advantage of the out-of-season warmth while it was here.
I had just turned the corner toward the library when a man stopped me on the sidewalk. He looked to be in his late sixties or early seventies; a tourist, I was guessing, since his face didn’t look familiar. “Excuse me,” he said with a polite smile. “Could you tell me if I’m headed in the right direction for the library?”
“Yes, you are,” I said. “I’m headed there myself. I can show you.”
The man smiled. “Thank you,” he said. He offered his hand. “I’m Victor Janes.”
Victor Janes was maybe five foot nine, with salt-and-pepper hair. He was on the thin side, I noticed, and there were dark circles under his eyes, but his handshake was strong.
“I’m Kathleen Paulson,” I said. “Are you related to Simon Janes?”
“Simon is my nephew,” he said. “His father and I are brothers.” We started walking. “Is Simon a friend of yours?”
Were Simon and I friends? I wasn’t sure how to answer that. We’d met at a fundraiser for the library’s Reading Buddies program. At the time his daughter, Mia, had been our student intern. Simon and I had gotten to know each other better over the past few weeks, working together to try to figure out if a proposed development out at Long Lake had had anything to do with the death of an environmentalist. Did that make us friends?
I settled for saying, “Mia works for me.” I gestured at the library building. “I’m actually the librarian here.”
“It’s been a long time since I’ve been in the library,” Victor said. “And I wasn’t what you’d call the studious type back in the day.” He smiled and looked up at the roof and the copper-topped cupola. “That can’t be the original weather vane?”
“It is,” I said. “It had a bit of a cant to one side, but we managed to get it straightened out. Rumor has it that happened one year at Homecoming, when a surprisingly lifelike effigy of the high school principal ended up on the roof.”
“It was tied to the weather vane and it was a lot heavier than it looked.” He shifted his gaze to my face. I was having a hard time keeping a grin in check. Victor Janes cleared his throat. “Or so I heard.”
“I’m sure it was,” I said.
I led him down the sidewalk to the main entrance. Inside he stopped and looked around, taking in everything from the wide plaster medallion on the ceiling over the circulation desk to the sun coming through the stained-glass window. “I heard the building had been restored, but I didn’t expect anything like this,” he said. “Very nice.”
“Thank you,” I said. I looked in the direction of the stacks. “Is there anything I can help you find?”
“Could you tell me where I could find whatever you have on vegan cooking?”
“The subject in general or cookbooks?”
“The subject in general,” he said. “I’ve been following a vegan diet throughout some . . . health issues, but I left my books at home.”
I wondered if those health issues were why he seemed a little gaunt and pale. “They would be in the 613s.” I pointed across the room. “Go down to the end of those shelves and turn right.”
Victor smiled. “Thank you,” he said. “It’s been a pleasure to meet you. I’m sure I’ll see you again.”
“If you need any help please let one of us know,” I said. He headed for the stacks and I turned and walked over to the front desk. Mary was there, staring unabashedly after Victor Janes.
She shook her head. “Lord love a duck, it can’t be,” she said, more to herself than to me, it seemed.
“Can’t be what?” I asked.
“That can’t be who I think it is.” She was still staring after Victor, who had disappeared “I didn’t really think he’d come.”
“It’s Simon’s uncle.”
She turned her attention to me then. “I know that. You might want to go get a fire extinguisher.”
I frowned at her. “What on earth are you talking about?”
“If Victor Janes is back in town there’s a good chance we’re going to be struck by lightning.” Mary made a face, two lines forming between her eyebrows. “Don’t tell me no one told you?”
I stifled a sigh of frustration. “I think it it’s pretty clear no one did since I’m completely lost.”
She patted her heavily hair-sprayed gray curls. “I don’t want to be a gossiping old busybody but since darling little Mia works here you should probably understand the nuances.” Her expression was serious.
“All right,” I said.
“Like you said, Victor is Simon’s uncle, his father—Leo’s—twin. Victor had an affair with Simon’s mother, Meredith. He convinced her to run off with him and shortly after she was killed in a car accident.”
I didn’t know what to say.
“Simon was about fourteen or fifteen. Leo was devastated and disowned his brother. No one in that family has spoken to Victor in more than twenty years.”
“Why would he come back now, after all this time?” I said.
“He’s sick,” Mary said flatly.
I stared at her. I’d never heard so little compassion in her voice.
“Apparently he has cancer. I don’t know what kind. Leo’s here for the first time in years and I’d heard that he invited Victor to come for a visit, and maybe even for some kind of reconciliation.” Her mouth twisted. “I guess blood is thicker than water.”
Something of what I was thinking must have shown in my face.
“I must sound cold to you,” Mary said. She was several inches shorter than I am and she cocked her head to one side and looked up at me. “Meredith was my friend, Kathleen. I haven’t told Mia that because as far as I know Simon never talks about his mother and I didn’t want to go stirring things up. I know Meredith wasn’t blameless in what happened. But there was a rumor that she was on her way back to Leo and Simon when she was killed.” She stared past me, at some memory maybe. “I didn’t realize how much I still blame him. I guess I’m more judgmental than I thought.” Her gaze came back to mine.
I reached over and touched her arm. “I don’t think you’re judgmental,” I said. “I think you’re a good friend.
The phone rang then and Mary reached for it. I headed up to my office.
I had just finished updating the public-access computers later that afternoon when Mia Janes came in—half an hour early—for her shift. I didn’t need Mary or anyone else to tell me the man with her was her grandfather, Simon’s father and Victor Janes’s twin brother. I could see the resemblance.
As usual Mia was sedately dressed in a white shirt, gray jacket and dark pants with no holes or worn spots. Her hair was streaked a deep plum color, which looked good with her fair skin.
Leo Janes was smiling at Mary across the circulation desk as I joined them. “Mary, it’s good to see you,” he said.
“It’s good to see you, too, Leo,” she said.
Leo turned to his granddaughter. “Mary was friends with your grandmother.”
“I didn’t know that,” Mia said.
“I probably have some pictures of us from high school,” Mary said. “Would you like me to see if I can find them?”
Mia beamed at her. “Yes,” she said. “I mean, if it’s not too much trouble.”
“It’s not any trouble,” Mary said. “You have to promise not to laugh at my clothes.”
“I wouldn’t do that,” Mia said, looking a little puzzled.
“I have two words for you. Go-go boots.”
Mia pressed her lips together in a valiant attempt not to laugh. I did laugh and then tried to disguise it into a cough. It didn’t work.
Mary turned, pointing an accusing finger at me. “Are you laughing at the idea of me in a mini dress and white patent-leather go-go boots, Kathleen?” she asked. I could see a hint of smile lurking behind the mock frown she gave me.
“I am making every effort not to,” I said as my shoulders shook with laughter.
Mia smiled. She was a serious young woman and it made me feel good to see her so clearly happy. She turned to her grandfather. “Grandpa, this is Kathleen Paulson, my boss.”
He held out his hand and I shook it. “I’m Leo Janes,” he said with a smile. “I’ve heard a lot about you from my granddaughter.” He looked so much like his brother and yet he didn’t. The color in Victor’s hair and beard had been touched up, I suspected; Leo had more gray. He also had a few more lines in his face but also far more warmth. And he and Simon had the same smile.
“Sweetie, there’s a tin of oatmeal-raisin cookies upstairs in the staff room for you. If you don’t go get them now I can’t promise they’ll be there by the end of the night,” Mary said. “Heaven knows the cinnamon rolls I sent over this morning with Rebecca seem to have disappeared.” She eyed me and I tried to look innocent, hoping I didn’t have any crumbs on my clothes to give me away.
Mia narrowed her eyes at Mary. “Are you going to talk about me while I’m gone?”
Mary put a hand on her chest in mock outrage. “I can’t believe you’d ask that,” she said. She paused for dramatic effect. “Of course we are!”
Mia laughed. “I’ll be right back,” she said to her grandfather.
“Thank you,” Leo said to Mary. “She loves working here.”
“We love having her,” Mary said. She looked at me. “Kathleen, could you watch the desk for a minute?” She pointed at a man over at the card catalogue. “I don’t think he understands that our computers don’t have a touch screen. He’s going to poke his finger right through the monitor.”
“Go ahead,” I said.
She came around the desk. “It’s good to see you,” she said to Leo, patting his shoulder.
He nodded. “It’s good to be back.”
Mary hurried across the floor and I turned to Leo Janes. “Mia and Simon both speak highly of you,” he said. He’d been studying me, I’d noticed, since I walked over to join them, watching me in much the same way I’d seen his son do. Something else they had in common.
“They’re both special people,” I said. “Simon probably didn’t tell you that he made a very generous gift to our Reading Buddies program.”
Leo gave his head a slight shake. “He didn’t. But Mia told me.” A smile pulled at the corners of his mouth. “She also told me she called him an ass.”
I remembered how Simon had walked into the library several days after a disastrous fundraiser for the literacy program. He’d handed me an envelope with a very large check inside. When I’d thanked him, he’d told me the person I should be thanking was his daughter. She had pointed out that he could easily afford to help fund Reading Buddies and called him out because he hadn’t.
I laughed. “She did. And yes, that probably had a lot to do with the first donation. But he’s made two more since then.”
I could see the gleam of approval in the older man’s eyes.
“And Mia is so good with people. The little ones love her. She gets down on the floor with them at story time and when she reads she does all the voices.” It had only taken a little encouragement to nudge Mia out of her shell. “She actually put orange streaks in the hair of a couple of the seniors from the quilting group for Halloween.”
Leo smiled and once again I saw the resemblance with his son. “She thinks of you all as family and that means a great deal to me, Ms. Paulson. She only has Simon and me.”
I noticed he didn’t mention Victor.
“Please call me Kathleen,” I said.
“Then you’ll have to call me Leo,” he countered.
I nodded. “I can do that.”
A burly man in a dark overcoat and sunglasses came in the main entrance then. He stopped to remove the glasses and I automatically smiled in his direction. Leo followed my gaze and it seemed to me his expression hardened a little, his jaw tightening.
The man’s eyes seemed to slide over Leo. He turned left and headed for the stacks. Mia’s grandfather watched him go. “Is that someone you know?” I asked.
He shook his head. “No,” he said. “The man just looked familiar for a moment. That’s all.”
Mia returned then, hugging the tin of Mary’s cookies to her chest. “Grandpa, can I trust you to take these home and not eat them all?” she asked.
“I can’t believe you’re asking me that!” Leo said, echoing what Mary had said earlier, his eyes widening in surprise. “Of course you can’t.”
Mia made a face at her grandfather but I could see the sparkle in her eyes and I knew she wasn’t really angry. “I’m serious,” she said, frowning at him.
Leo gave her a guileless look. “So am I.”
Mia shook her head and laughed. “You and Dad could at least save me one,” she said, passing over the tin. She leaned forward and hugged her grandfather. Then she looked at me. “Kathleen, Grandpa is the reason I roll left. He’s a lefty.”
“That explains it,” I said.
Leo looked uncertainly from his granddaughter to me. “Excuse me,” he said. “What does ‘roll left’ mean and why am I being blamed for it?”
“It’s not a bad thing,” I said with a smile. “I promise. Yesterday Mia and I and someone from the fire station were teaching a group of kids to stop, drop and roll. Everyone rolled to the right, except Mia.”
She laughed. “I told them you were the one who taught stop, drop and roll to me and I’ve always done it that way.”
“You’re left-handed,” I said. “That’s why you roll left and that’s what you taught Mia. Most right-handed people will roll to the right.”
Leo held out his hands. “I’m in here for five minutes and I’ve learned something new.”
I grinned at him. “I should tell you the source of that information is my mother.”
He smiled back at me. “I’m sure she’s an unimpeachable source. However, in the interest of full disclosure I should tell you that I’m actually ambidextrous.” He turned to his granddaughter and gave her a hug. “I’ll see you later, kiddo,” he said as Mary rejoined us. “It’s good to see you again, Mary,” he said to her. “It’s been too long. I won’t make that mistake again.”
“Good to see you, too, Leo,” Mary said.
He turned to me. “And it was a pleasure to meet you, Kathleen.”
“You as well.”
He raised one hand in good-bye, and with that he left.
Mia moved behind the circulation desk just as the phone started to ring.
“I’m going to start shelving,” Mary said.
I nodded. “I’ll be in my office.”
I went upstairs and detoured into the staff room long enough to get yet another cup of coffee. In my office I turned on my laptop and then went to stand in front of the window behind my desk. I expected to see Harry Taylor out there, working on the broken gazebo seat.
Harry was outside at the gazebo but he wasn’t repairing the broken seat. He was having a very heated conversation.
With Leo Janes.
Excerpted from "A Tale of Two Kitties"
Copyright © 2018 Sofie Kelly.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This series is very well written. These are cozy mysteries and entertaining. Good, light reading.
Librarian Kathleen Paulson is enjoying the good life as librarian of her little town in Minnesota. She has a great boyfriend in Police Officer Marcus and the joy of living with two magical cats, Owen and Hercules. But life’s about to take a twist in Mayville Heights when two brothers, Victor and Leo, return after a long absence. Leo’s son Simon, and his daughter, Mia, still live in Mayville Heights. But the arrival of Victor and Leo brings back old wounds. At one point Victor had an affair with Leo’s wife, who later died in a car crash. Things turn really ugly when Leo is found dead and Kathleen finds herself drawn into the investigation as they try to discover whether something from the past has come back to cause death in the present day. The Magical Cats series is the perfect cozy. It has a fantastic setting, intriguing characters and, above all, magical cats that help point their human, Kathleen, in the right direction to help find a killer. Ms. Kelly has crafted a mystery that takes the reader on a ride from past to present through photos and stories from the town’s gossip mill. While the Magical Cats series is classified as a cozy, Ms. Kelly delves deep into the human soul, which intrigued me and made her characters so very realistic. As always, the end of one of these books leaves me waiting for more. I read this book a second time, and it is just as good. I love this series, and can't wait for more. I received an advance copy of this book from Penguin’s First to Read program.
A Tale of Two Kitties is the 9th installment of A Magical Cats Mystery series by Sofie Kelly. Kathleen is the head librarian of the Mayville, MN library and lives with two adorable, mischievous, and magical kitties named Owen and Hercules. Kathleen once again finds herself in the middle of a murder investigation when she finds Leo Janes dead. Kathleen searches for the truth to help clear her friend Simon Janes from being accused of his father's murder. Marcus, Kathleen's boyfriend, is also the detective in charge of the investigation and does not trust Kathleen's belief that Simon is incapable of murder. Kathleen must use her research skills to dig into the history of the town to find out who wanted Leo dead. There are several wonderful things about this series. The characters are so real and really define small town life and willingness to help each other. Owen and Hercules have remarkable abilities, but in the context of the story do not seem odd or out of place. This is a tale of several suspects and many with motive to keep the reader engaged until the last page.
Well written and a comfortable read. I jumped into this series at book nine was able to follow the story. Kathleen is a very likable character and lives in charming Mayville Heights, Minnesota where she is in charge of Carnegie library. The library has taken custody of a cache of old photos and letters found in post office remodel. The letters play into the mystery. The town is abuzz with the potential reunion of the Janes twins Years earlier Victor ran away with Leo’s wife, Meredith. Rumor had it that Meredith realized her mistake and was on her way back to Mayville Heights when she was killed in an accident. Owen and Hercules are a nice addition to the story as they pop in and out of the story to prod Kathleen towards the killer. Mia, the library intern, is Leo’s granddaughter and is thrilled to have her grandfather back in town. I like that the cats have magical powers but that this doesn’t distract from the main story.
Very anticipated read. I love the writing style and familiar feelings the pages held. The author really brings out a good mystery with the use of her pet cats. When I read her last book I immediately wanted to read her next. You won’t be disappointed in the dynamic duo who help crack another case!
Hercules and Owen are at it again helping Kathleen solve another murder mystery. Tale of Two Kitties is the ninth in the Sofie Kelly Magical Cats Mysteries series. This is a wonderful tale of the amateur sleuth/librarian, Kathleen Paulson, the law, Marcus, and the kitties, Hercules and Owen, that help them solve crimes. The residents of Mayville Heights find their long lost son, Victor, returning to town. Trouble follows as Kathleen finds him dead. The story keeps you guessing until the very end as Kathleen and Marcus have to dig through history in order to solve this crime. I really enjoyed reading this edition of the Magical Cats Mysteries and look forward to getting the next installment. I was offered a copy of this book for an honest review.
A lot of twists and turns kept me guessing
magical cats! How can one not love this combination ? We're kept guessing until the end!
Kathleen Paulsen is a librarian at a Carnegie library in Mayville Heights. She loves life here in this small friendly town. With her encyclopedic knowledge she's an asset to the town, but Kathleen has a secret. Her two kitties are magical. Hercules and Owen have gained the power of deduction. This is a very helpful when murder visits Mayville. Can they help find out who killed Leo Janes? Marcus, the sheriff, wants to keep Kathleen from putting herself in danger. He's such a caring man. I love the small town feel and the kind people who live there. Kathleen is an intelligent woman who has found a home here. She's in love with Marcus as he is with her. The characters are likeable. They are people I would like to have as friends. The story is well written and filled with unexpected surprises. I loved the kitties with their magical talents. The touch of romance adds to this cozy mystery. Sofie Kelly did an amazing job with this series. I can't wait for more of the Magical Cats. I received a copy of this book which I voluntarily read and reviewed. My comments are my honest opinion.
Dollycas’s Thoughts These adorable kitties will steal your heart forever. This intuitive pair, Hercules and Owen, are each magical in their own way and totally devoted to their person, Kathleen. They try to go everywhere she goes and sometimes stow themselves away when she refuses to take them along. The usually go one at a time though, together, away from home, could be a bit of a handful. They understand her both in what she says and what she feels. They do an excellent job at judging other people’s character too. Kathleen has been able to keep their special capabilities to herself so far. They do look like two of my kitties but their magic exceeds anything I have witnessed here at home. I absolutely love them and they would be welcome at my house any time. The mystery this involves two brothers who have been estranged for years. They previously lived in Mayville Heights and had returned to try to get beyond their differences. Leo has also come to see his son Simon and his granddaughter. Victor is having health issues and fears his days are numbered. Before ant reconcilation can happen Kathleen finds Leo’s body and gets very upset when Marcus hones in on Simon as the prime suspect. Kathleen feels answers may be found by digging into the past to find what drove the brothers apart. She has heard rumors but with a little feline assistance she is determined to get Simon off the wanted list and the real culprit behind bars. Being back in Mayville Heights is like visiting old friends. I imagine I would spend a fair amount of time at the library and may even volunteer. Kathleen and her staff is so welcoming to everyone. Right now the staff is working with a box of old pictures and undelivered mail they have received. Their attention gets diverted when the Leo’s body is found. Mia, his granddaughter works at the library and she has just brought him in to meet her coworkers. I really enjoyed the premise of found items playing a critical part to solving the mystery. This story has a quick pace and the suspense ramps up nicely as the story continues. Kathleen starts to zero in and draw conclusions just in time to land herself in a bunch of trouble. The clues all came together for me at the same time as Kathleen. A fun well written mystery with characters that continue to evolve makes this one of my favorite series. Of course, the two furry felines are my stars in this story. Note – There is a bonus short story at the end of the book and that was a nice surprise. A Purr-fect Escape!!
A Tale of Two Kitties by Sofie Kelly is the ninth mystery in A Magical Cats Mystery series. Kathleen Paulson is a librarian in Mayville Heights, Minnesota and owns (well, as much as you can own a cat) two special cats named Owen and Hercules. When remodeling a local post office, undelivered mail and photos were discovered. The library has agreed to take possession of the photos. Kathleen wants to find a way to identify the people in the photos and get them in the hands of family. Twin brothers, Victor and Leo Janes have returned to town for Thanksgiving and the gossip mill is buzzing. People remember that Victor had an affair with Leo’s wife. Unfortunately, Meredith died in a car accident shortly afterward. This is a chance for a reconciliation between the two men. Mia Janes, a library student intern, is tickled to have her grandfather in town. Kathleen drives Mia to visit Leo one day after work and Kathleen notices the apartment door ajar. She goes inside to find Leo dead from obvious blunt force trauma. The police soon narrow their sights on Simon Janes, Leo’s son and Kathleen’s friend, when they discover he an argument with Leo and lacks an alibi. Kathleen with the aid of her two magical sidekicks, Owen and Hercules, delves into the case intent on tracking down Leo’s killer. Come visit Mayville Heights and help Kathleen solve her latest case in A Tale of Two Kitties. A Tale of Two Kitties has good writing, but the pace is a little slow. There are nice, relatable characters and a charming small-town setting. Kathleen is a great character who has a wonderful job—a librarian! I enjoy her interactions with her fur babies. A Tale of Two Kitties contains an extra amount of cozy. There is socializing, meals, work at the library, romance, the cat’s antics, the found photographs and mail, plus much more. I wish the author had not devoted so much time to the lost (and now found) photographs and mail. It seemed to dominate the story. The mystery was interesting and I liked how it was structured (containing several different components that all fit together). The author included some good clues which will aid readers in solving the crime (plus the suspect list is very small). My rating for A Tale of Two Kitties is 4 out of 5 stars. A Tale of Two Kitties is a cute story and I delighted in the paranormal element. The magical cats are adorable and entertaining (especially Owen with his funky chickens). If you have not read any of the previous A Magical Cat Mystery novels, you will be a little lost (since there are so many secondary characters) in the beginning and it might hinder readers in solving the crime. A Tale of Two Kitties is a charming cozy mystery that will delight readers.
Delightful! Engaging story with sympathetic characters and lovable magical cats, Owen and Hercules.
Another magically fun visit with Hercules and Owen! In A TALE OF TWO KITTIES, author Sofie Kelly’s talent for writing, and amazing imagination shine their brightest. Book nine is every bit as wonderful as the eight that came before. I loved the interaction between protagonist, Kathleen and her furry housemates, Owen and Hercules. They’re the coolest cats in town, and some of the best crime solvers out there. Their antics and abilities always make for an entertaining read. Mystery and intrigue were in abundant supply in A TALE OF TWO KITTIES, and kept me guessing through every new chapter. From the fun first page through to the exciting reveal, this captivating kitty para-cozy held me in its spell.
A Tale of Two Kitties by Sofia Kelly is the 9th book in her Magical Cats Mystery series. I have not read the previous books in this series, but it read very well as a standalone. With that being said, reading the early books would be fun and enjoyable. Our heroine in this series is Kathleen Paulson, the librarian of Mayville Heights, as well as her adorable two cats, Hercules and Owen. No..the cats do not talk (as in another series I read), but they do have some strange magical abilities like walking through a door, or just disappearing. What make Hercules and Owen fun, is the little simple hints they give Kathleen in helping her solve crimes, and the cute humor is enjoyable throughout the book. A Tale of Two Kitties is a murder mystery, as Kathleen is the one who finds her friend, Simon’s father dead and the mystery begins. A 20 year old scandal will be the catalyst that sets the stage of this mystery. Victor Janes has just returned to visit his brother Leo, to make amends after he had run away with Leo’s wife twenty years hence. When Leo is found dead, there are a number of suspects, including Victor, Simon and a few other suspects. Kathleen gets involved in trying to solve the murder, and find a way to prove that Simon is innocent. She will talk to the local people in trying to find clues, and as we get closer to the end, the danger and excitement escalates. Though this is murder, the entire story flowed so well, and except for a short period, it was a calm fun read, with no tension. As we held our breaths at the end, I loved how Kathleen got out of her predicament. The characters that are part of this series were great, and I also enjoyed the sweet romance between Kathleen and her detective boyfriend, Marcus. A Tale of Two Kitties was a lighthearted mystery that was a fun and fast read. Hercules and Owen were delightful, as they always managed to get Kathleen’s attention ‘pawing’ out the clues. If you want a fast cute fun mystery , I wholly suggest you read this series.
A Tale of Two Kitties: Magical Cats Series Author: Sofie Kelly Publisher: Berkley Kathleen Paulson’s two cats, Hercules and Owen, are very unusual and indispensable at times. They help her solve murder cases in their own unique way. So it is no surprise that she needs their help whether she asked for it or not to solve the latest murder. Mayville Heights is filled with gossip and curious stares 3when the Janes brothers, Leo and Victor, are both back home after a long time away. Gossip rolls through the small town and Victor Janes is smack in the middle of it, again. Having stolen his brother's wife and destroyed his family, Victor has come home to make amends, or has he? Are the brothers really trying to reconcile or is there something more sinister at the heart of the unexpected homecoming? When Kathleen finds Leo dead, she wonders who other than Victor would want Leo dead. Perhaps he wasn’t the great guy everyone thought he was. Her police boyfriend believes Leo’s son is to blame and sets out to prove it. Kathleen isn’t so sure he is guilty, so she aims to prove he isn't, one way or another. -- The most memorable characters really are the cats, Owen and Hercules. They are highly intelligent and magical cats that can walk through walls, or disappear in the blink of an eye. Kathleen as well as her Detective boyfriend, Marcus is very well written and fun to learn about. The story of Victor and Leo is compelling with just enough of reality that makes you care about them and how their lives have gone. Mia, Simon’s daughter, and Leo’s granddaughter is a well-rounded character that develops into a lovely young woman whose heart is broken by the unexpected and violent death of her beloved grandfather. She puts a brave face on but is still young enough to break down every once in awhile. Mia tugs at the heartstrings of the reader. Her loss and pain are real, and Ms. Kelly has created a character that the reader will want a happy ending for her. The story is well written and flows naturally. There enough hints to the killer's identity that a reader can figure out the who did it, but not too soon in the story. Readers will continue to turn pages and become immersed in the story. It is fast-paced without sacrificing details and entertaining. This book can stand on its own as a solo cozy but fits in well with the entire series. This book will appeal to anyone who enjoys a light-hearted mystery with no sex or actual violence and cats that are very unusual. It is highly recommended.
Dull. Author names too many characters with the letter Monday (at least 5 characters) the letter R.