The second book in the Cats in Trouble Mystery series, published May 2010.
Between her kitty quilt-making business and her three beloved cats, Jillian Hart has her hands full. That doesn't stop her from wanting to solve the mystery of the milk cow that's gone missing from her friend's farm. But imagine her surprise when a stolen cow leads to the discovery of fifty stray cats and one dead body-a victim of cold-blooded murder...
The story starts with Jillian Hart and her police woman friend Candace catsitting the night away at the local shelter, handfeeding a nest of tiny kittens every two hour and trying to stay awake. Then Candace gets a call from a distressed woman whose cow went missing. How can she give her young son his raw cow milk in the morning, when their cow is missing? The other police officers are used to her almost daily distress calls, and don’t walk to hard to help her out, so Candace promises to come over first thing in the morning. As Jillian was the one driving, she has to come too. And so Jillian gets to meet the overprotective mother Robin, and her precious and genius son Jack. When Candace finds out the padlock on the shed is broken, the cow did not wander just off, the cow was stolen! Luckily, she comes walking back home just then. That same night, Candace and Jillian stay guard, to find out if the cow will be stolen again. But this time, the thief just wants the milk as he is carrying a pail.
Candace knows the man, some strange professor on a sabbatical. And as Robin won’t press charges this time, there is nothing she could do. Even though he gives of some really scary vibes, and is acting all weird.
Then there is also the appearance of some stray cats in the barn, looking for food. Robin needs help feeding them, as times as a small farmer are lean. So when Jillian comes back later, she brings with her some sacks of dry cat food from the shelter. One of the cats, who looks like she just had kittens, is acting strange. Like she wants Jillian to follow her back to her litter, while most cats just want to hide their kittens from people. So Jillian sets out after the beautiful calico cat. And finds a real horror.
Cage after cage filled with hungry cats, and that professor man making notes. Jillian escapes unnoticed, and after warning Candace and Shaun from the animal shelter, waits for their help. But just when they arrive, they find the professor murdered. And not in a pretty way. All Jillian wants to do is help the cat, but when they are finally allowed in the back, most of them are gone. Only the calico mother and her kittens, and four other cats are left in the cages. Did some animal rights activist take them? Or just free them? And who murdered the professor?
The same crazy assistant coroner appears on scene, and again she warns Jillian away from the man she wants as her boyfriend.
After coming home with the mother cat and kittens, Jillian installs them in her basement spare room, meant for guests when the house was build, but never used before. She doesn’t know how her own three cats will react to the intruder, let alone to the kittens. But her precious Chablis is all over the mother cat and kittens, acting like she had them herself, even keeping the other two, the males, away from them.
But then Jillian gets a second shock. Her late husband had a daughter from his first marriage, and Kara never warmed for Jillian. And now she is on her doorstep, expecting to stay for a while. She just lost her job, and needs to start over again. She wants to see the house her father has build. As John left his daughter quit well off, she certainly doesn’t need money. But to Jillian, who has no family of her own, Kara is the only reminder of John left, and she really hopes to build a relationship with her this time. Only, she doesn’t really know how. Luckily, her want-to-be-boyfriend Tom Stewart helps out with that problem, providing Kara with a part time job, and giving her the idea of writing a book about the professor’s murder.
Jillian really wants to know what the man was doing with all those cats, and why he stole that cow. So, together with Candace and Kara, she is trying to find out what she can from the ex-wife and sons of the murdered man, and solve the mystery.
At first, Candace is very wary of Kara, and keeping an eye on her. Kara isn’t very considerate towards Jillian, and Candace doesn’t want her friend to get hurt. And after an intruder warned Jillian of the case, Candace gets protection detail.
I really liked this book. I got more knowledge about Jillian and Candace, and the mystery was great. The cats made great secondary characters, and so did Robin and Jack. Jillian tries to get her to be a little less overprotective, let Jack play around a bit, even if it is in the mud. And in the end, he even gets two of the kittens! Which is of course a huge thing for someone so obsessed with cleaning as Robin is.
There is a little more talk about the quilting business, but I still have no idea how she does that. Perhaps I should watch an instruction video or something to get a grip on that.
All in all, I liked it, and am looking forward to reading the next one in the series, which has just come out. I like Leann Sweeney’s writing style, the obvious love of cats, and the characters she has created. I do hope Candace gets her young fireman to notice her someday soon.