Monday, May 28, 2012

The Big Kitty - Claire Donally


The Big Kitty
A Sunny & Shadow Mystery
Claire Donally
Berkley Prime Crime
 
Mystery

Sunny Coolidge left her job as a reporter in New York City at the worst possible time.  The downturn of the newspaper industry made her downsizing inevitable.  Her reason was the best possible: she returned to her hometown of Kittery Harbor, Maine, to care for her father after a heart attack.  The local paper isn’t interested, so she found work at a local travel agency.  It’s not what she wants, but it pays the bills – mostly – for now.
 
Ada Spruance is known around town as the Cat Lady, with all the negatives and positives that term conjures.  She tells Sunny an improbable story.  She says she has a winning lottery ticket worth millions that’s almost due to expire (they’re good for a year) but she can’t find it.  Despite her misgivings, Sunny agrees to help the woman search.  The search never happens, though, due to Ada’s untimely death after a fall down a set of cellar stairs.  Stairs her son, Gordie, claims she would never have used.  Unfortunately, Gordie seems to be deeply involved with drugs.  That makes his word doubtful and his motive for murder fairly good.  With the help of constable Will Price and Shadow, one of Ada’s strays, Sunny decides to investigate.
 
This is the first in a new series, and it looks like a winner.  Shadow is a main character, and the scenes narrated from his perspective are touching and realistic as he adapts to his new home and people.  For readers who aren’t into the animal angle, there’s still a good mystery here.  The sheriff and various local businessmen have a clear vested interest in promoting tourism at the expense of reporting crime, illuminating the downside of living in a tourist town.  The main plotline, woman possibly thrown down stairs by adult tweaker son who wants her money, is a darker twist on things than one normally finds in a ‘cozy’ mystery, but I found it refreshing.  For more sensitive readers: there’s still no overt or graphic violence, so don’t miss this one.
 
Rating: 7
May 2012
ISBN# 978-0-425-24802-7 (paperback)

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