The third book in the Cats in Trouble Mystery series, published April 2011.
When cat quilter Jillian Hart tracks down the owner of a gorgeous stray cat, the trail leads her to none other than fabulously wealthy, undeniably quirky Ritaestelle Longworth. The gossips in town are questioning Ritaestelle’s sanity, and the high-society grande dame isn’t helping matters with her wild accusations that someone is drugging her to keep her away from her beloved cat.
Before Jillian can get to the bottom of Ritaestelle’s charges, a body turns up in the lake behind her house – and her cat Chablis discovers Ritaestelle standing nearby. Can Jillian’s three wise cats aid her in solving a mystery with roots that are decades old? Jillian knows from experience that to find the purr-petrator, she’ll have to prick up her ears and follow the paw prints straight to a killer…
Okay, once again a blurb written by some one who just skimmed the book. I really hate that. I really wish the publishers would let the author write the blurb herself.
Animal rescue shelter owner Shawn has recently rescued a black cat, walking near the highway. As he has no luck getting contact with the cat’s owner (his calls are just not returned), he asks Jillian to visit the owner and find out if she wants the cat back, and if that is in the cat’s best interest. After all, how did the cat end up there?
Also, Isis is a very spoiled rich cat, and is setting his whole shelter on its ears, she hisses and bites and claws as much as she can. Can Jillian please take her? So reluctantly, Jillian agrees to both requests.
As Shawn had no luck calling the house, Jillian is going to investigate in the guise of a reporter. With a little help from her step-daughter Kara, she is primed. But also uncomfortable with the disguise, as she doesn’t like to lie to people. Ritaestelle Longworth is one of the richest women in the county and well known for her generosity and kindness. So why would she not react to the news that someone has found her beloved cat?
Having gained entrance to the house, and to the secretary/assistant Evie Preston, Jillian is told Ritaestelle is indisposed, and what is she doing here? The internet told Evie all about Jillian, and she knows she is not a reporter, but connected to an animal rescue shelter and known for helping cats in trouble. Then there is a commotion upstairs, and when Evie runs up the stairs, Jillian follows her. There she sees an elderly lady lying on the floor, clearly fallen down. Ritaestelle wants to talk to Jillian, but the people around her don’t want her to. So Jillian is run out of the house, and on her way home, even told by the chief of police Shelton to stay away from mrs. Longworth. She has been in trouble lately, being caught shop-lifting and forgetful.
Jillian is a little upset about the visit, something just wasn’t right in that house. And so she tells her good friend and police officer Candace when she comes visiting that evening, who tells her to just let it go. But then, just when Jillian is about to retire for the night, there is another visitor: Ritaestelle Longworth, in her bathrobe and on slippers. She claims she has escaped her own house, where she is held and drugged. She recognized Jillian from the news about her latest encounter where she rescued all those cats, and she thinks Jillian has found her beloved Isis. Jillian doesn’t know if she should believe Ritaestelle’s claims, but she goes off looking for Isis. Isis likes spaces she is too big for, and again she has gotten into something she can’t get out of on herself. But while Jillian is busy freeing Isis from her hide-out, Ritaestelle hears some noises outside and goes on inspection, letting two of Jillian’s cats escape. When Jillian goes looking for her, she founds Ritaestelle down by the lake, calling for help. There is the body of a woman in the lake, and Jillian plunges in, trying to save her. But it is already too late. Evie is dead, and Ritaestelle is covered in blood. Did she kill her secretary? And why was Evie there?
What follows is a fast paced mystery. Someone is trying to blacken Ritaestelle’s name, but why? Ritaestelle is living with a lot of family members, who are living comfortably of her money. Two cousins, her sister-in-law and her nephew, a butler and a cook. Evie didn’t live at the house, but she took care of all the financial matters, the charity work as well as the family’s allowances. So why was she murdered in the backyard of Jillian’s house? Was Ritaestelle framed?
The policeforce of both Mercy and Ritaestelle’s hometown is working together to find out the truth. But for now, Ritaestelle is the main suspect. At her request, Jillian and Tom work together to find out the truth, as they will look for different things than the police, and most importantly, believe Ritaestelle innocent. But for now, Ritaestelle doesn’t feel safe in her own house, and will stay with Jillian. Is Jillian harboring a murderer in her home after all? Or will they find out the truth?
I loved this book. I must say, this series is getting better and better. Of course, I already know al the main characters and like them, so it is nice to read about them again. As for the mystery, that was very well done. Each and every one of those family members could have done it, after all, money is the greatest motivator. Jealousy and greed were in abundance in that house. I had my suspicions all along, but this ending, this outcome, this murderer, no, that sure took me by surprise. And it is a good book that can do that. I am certainly looking forward to the next book in this series and the next cat in trouble that needs rescuing.
If you like some cats with your mystery, you should really try this series.
On the personal end, Jillian and Tom are still going slow. A date and a kiss, no more (yet). Jillian is still grieving for her husband, and some things really bring that grieve close to the surface. But Tom is very nice and understanding.
The obnoxious deputy coroner Lydia Monk also made an appearance, and she was her usual delusional and hateful self. How Leann Sweeney can create a character like that woman, I have no idea, but is a good and surprising find. I just hope she doesn’t know someone like that from close by.
Candace got the lead in this investigation, and she was doing great. Fanatical about collecting evidence of course, and sure to find out the truth. Until she was almost killed …
Kara is still planning to buy the local Mercy newspaper, and in the mean time writing articles about the killing and the investigation, putting Jillian in a difficult spot sometimes as she doesn’t want to betray Ritaestelle’s trust in her.