Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Murder Past Due - Miranda James

Murder Past Due
A Cat In The Stacks Mystery
Miranda James
Berkley Prime Crime


Back in his high school days, Godfrey Priest was a jerk. Fast forward a couple of decades, and he’s an enormously wealthy writer of thrillers. So much for karma. But all debts come due in time, and Godfrey gets his when he returns to his hometown of Athens, Mississippi.

Charlie Harris, a widower, works part-time archiving at the local university. He’s surprised when Godfrey arrives in his office, unannounced. Ostensibly, Godfrey would like to donate all of his ‘papers’ to the library, clearly feeling this is a great honor. Really, he wants to talk to Charlie about how to break the news to a local kid that he’s the kid’s father. Even Diesel, the Maine Coon cat who accompanies Charlie nearly everywhere, takes a dislike to Godfrey. By that evening, Godfrey is dead. Charlie finds him bludgeoned to death on the floor of his hotel room.

This is the first in a new series, and it’s very entertaining. Obviously, Godfrey was not a great person, but he managed to charm women left and right, thus his unsuspecting son. Charlie is a wonderful amateur sleuth. He’s got the wisdom that comes with maturity, and never rushes headlong into situations without thinking it through first. He’s smart, and he’s got Diesel, who is wonderfully expressive and a clever addition to the story.

There are plenty of suspects around town, and a few who showed up specifically for Godfrey’s visit. Any one of them has reason to kill the writer, so it’s up for grabs until the end. Even though Godfrey is a heel, the author - and Charlie - comes to see him as a complex human being, and not just a stock villain. The story unfolds from Charlie’s perspective, so the reader only discovers pertinent facts as he does. This structure works perfectly for the story. I hope we get to see much more of Charlie and Diesel after their more-than-solid debut.

Rating: 7 ½
August 2010
ISBN# 978-0-425-23603-1 (paperback)


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