Sunday, January 20, 2013

Book Review - Murder of the Cat's Meow

Murder of a Cat's Meow
By Denise Swanson

Summary from Goodreads:

When ex–Vegas showgirl and local business owner Bunny Reid starts an online dating service called Cupid’s Cat’s Meow, out-of-town visitors flock to her bowling alley for the speed dating and cat show events that she hosts to bring in extra cash. Bunny’s scheme sounds harmless enough, but school psychologist Skye Denison knows all too well that an influx of strangers in Scumble River always spells trouble….

Meanwhile, Skye is convinced that her house is haunted and is afraid her fiancé, police chief Wally Boyd, won’t move in until the ghost moves out. But ghost-hunting takes a back seat when Skye is called to the bowling alley, where a riled up contestant is choking a cat show judge for insulting his feline. Skye breaks up the scuffle, but the next morning the judge’s dead body is found, strangled with a cat toy. Now Skye must solve this purrplexing mystery—and show a devious killer that her sleuthing skills are the cat’s meow.

My Review:

QUICK CAPTURE: I hope Denise Swanson keeps writing this series.  It is definitely a favorite of mine and even if there are a few things I do not like, I would hate to see it go.

Murder of a Cat's Meow is the  15th book in the Scumble River Mysteries (and the 17th story as there are two novellas).  The Scumble River Mysteries focus on the town of Scumble River Illinois and school psychologist/police psychological consultant Skye Dennison.  This small farming community is continually the hub of some wacky goings on, but it is always done in a way that is fresh.  I have yet to read and think "Again?"  I came to this series a couple of years ago, and I really have enjoyed each and every one although some more than others.

Skye has been asked to help out Bunny as she hosts a special cat show and matchmaking weekend at the bowling alley Bunny manages for her son Simon (Skye's ex boyfriend).  As often happens when Skye is involved, a murder happens, and Skye finds the body.   The fact that the victim was an antagonistic self-centered witch made this murder not a major shock.  Finding the killer however will be difficult, because anyone with the kind of track record the victim has is bound to have plenty of enemies.  The police force will have a rough time with this one.

I'll be honest, as much as I still enjoyed being engulfed by Skye's story and the town, there were a few times when I forgot what murder was even being investigated.  It became ultra secondary to Skye's wedding planning and her relationship with her fiance the police chief and her trying to figure out how to unhaunt her home.  I'll be honest, if there is a ghost, I hope it doesn't leave, because I don't enjoy Skye and Wally's sex scenes any more than the ghost does.  Now I am not saying this because I am a prude.  I am saying this because a sex life was really sooooo very in the background of the first several books in the series.  Now if Skye and Wally are is like they are a couple of teenagers (though not as bad in this book as it has been).  It is distracting and decidedly not hot.  If I wanted to read a mystery with sex in it, I wouldn't be reading a cozy mystery.  I am glad that at least this time I didn't have to read about how Skye wonders how Wally keeps his year round tan as he gets undressed.

Here is what I enjoyed:  I love Scumble River and its quirky characters.  I love Bunny and how off the wall she is.  I like that Skye has a hungry grumpy cat and that she is tight with her family.  I like that her dad is a farmer and her mom works at the police station as a dispatcher and dresses up her lawn goose.  I like that even though Skye always finds a body, it is a fresh murder and not the same old thing happening again.  Keeping things fresh after so many stories is probably not easy.  Denise  Swanson is really good at keeping a story moving and creating characters with humor and believability.  There are only a few here and there that make you scratch your head and ask why?

Here is what I did not enjoy:  I don't like Wally and Skye together.  Maybe it is because I connected with her first relationship in the book and I never thought her breakup with Simon was a good one (she thought he was cheating on her, he wasn't), and I didn't like how quickly she leaped into a relationship with Wally.  Their relationship seemed good to me.  I liked that it wasn't perfect.  I liked that Simon was attached to some rather quirky souls himself like his ex-Vegas dancer mom.  Wally's dad is an oil tycoon and they have family issues because he apparently doesn't want anything to do with that life and wants to be a cop.  Admirable.  But suddenly Wally sure is tossing around the money.  For a guy who wants a simple life, since he has hooked up with Skye, money really seems more of an issue.  The guy buys her very expensive items including a 2 carat Tiffany engagement ring.  How is he doing this on a small town police chief's salary?  That is like over 25,000 big ones! As much as I like that Skye is growing and changing and heading toward the altar.  I think her and Wally dull the character down.  Lastly, do police psych consultants seriously go to almost every suspect interview.  It is as if Wally can't be alone without Skye and her twinsets (if you read the series you'll know what I mean).

All in all though, I really do enjoy this series a great deal.  It is because I like it so much these things get to me.  It is because I have really grown to care for these characters and this town.  That in and of itself really is a mark of a good series.

I gave this book four stars.


  1. Good Review! I liked your style in telling the story from your perspective. I am a beginner in book reviewing and I could sure use some of your techniques in doing mine. I have never heard of this series, so I will keep a look out for this one. Do you know if this comes in e-pub (kobo, kindle) version? Thank you for this :)

    1. Awww thank you so much. It really is a great series. I swept through it like wildfire. It is definitely available via Kindle and I would guess it would be available for other e-readers. Thank you so much for dropping by. :)

  2. I like your honest review. I like the MLK button on the side of your blog toady too, cool! :)