Sunday 22 October 2023

THE CAT WHO SOLVED THREE MURDERS

 by  L T SHEARER;  

                                  

                                                

An Adventure Book Review by Erin the Literary Cat©, International Book Reviewer.

Hello, and welcome to my weekend Book Review featuring Adventures in Middle-Grade cosy Adult Fiction. There are some books that we just HAVE to read, and this is one of them. Though I have to admit, it crept up on Mrs H, and it wasn't until the publishers contacted us directly that we knew the launch was impending. Given we haven't been able to go outdoors due to the torrents of rain and floods, Mrs H and I, got the chores done and nestled ourselves down on the duvet and got stuck in.

LT Shearer is a calico cat and canal boat lover, and both feature, the former predominantly so, in this adventure. There is nothing finer than a mystery adventure, be it a book or movie, especially when we recorded no actual sunlight on our solar meter. So wherever you guys are, this book is the perfect remedy and Sunday or weekend treat......

 



 


AUTHOR:  L T Shearer

 

Cover art by:  Unknown at this time....

 

Published by: Pan Macmillan


Publication date of Hardback: 26 October 2023

 

Publication date for Paperback  20 June 2024

 

Paperback ISBN:   978-152 909 80 44

Cover price for Hardback £16.99

 

Paperback £9.99

 

Kindle price £7.99


Available on Audible. £7.99

 

Pages: 336

 

Age range:  Adult


Any dogs or cats? But of course, this feratures Conrad the talking feline.


 

 

SPOILER ALERT

Some as to plot direction and characters.

 

Thank you to...

We are exceedingly grateful to Charlotte and Team Conrad at Pan Macmillan Publishers for inviting us to Read & Review this much-anticipated book before publication. And to Net Galley for hosting the ARC of the book for us.

As ever, our views are our own, and we only share reviews of books we have bought, been given as gifts, or received in exchange for an impartial review.

First and foremost, the books we review are those we select to read, like, and feel our global readers deserve to know about and that we hope they, their family, friends and students will enjoy.

The plot

We rejoin our protagonists, Lulu Lewis – retired Police Detective Superintendent, and Conrad, the calico cat who now shares her life, having decided to wander aboard her canal boat in London. Conrad is a rather erudite cat, rare for being a male calico. And even rarer, possibly unique, in so much that he can talk but does so only to Lulu.

They have arrived at the Oxfordshire country house-cum-mansion of Julia and Bernard, two long-time friends from the days when Julia and Lulu worked on the force. It is the occasion of Bernard's 60th birthday bash, and Lulu is taking up the invite as an opportunity to catch up on old times with friends she has lost touch with in recent years.

The word 'bash' turns out to be a Freudian slip on my part, as on arrival, there is some turmoil in the home; the day before, both Bernard and an insurance broker that was in the home were attacked. The broker, Billy Russell, died when his head was stoved in by the fireside poker. Bernard was lucky to get away with his life, a dented head bruised aye and shock. With the theft of a group of paintings from the room, it seems like the police have a bungled robbery by two people in black and wearing masks to investigate.

But......

Old habits die hard, and Lulu senses that Bernard's story and the placing of people and timings don't quite add up. But is it too soon for him to remember clearly what actually happened? And then there's the break in itself. They clearly weren't opportunistic and could have avoided the conflict and risk by merely looking through the window. The door they entered by was even unlocked, and yet they smashed the glass. The two beefy men described by Bernard would have been more than a match for Bernard and Billy without resorting to violence. The 'Modus Operandi' was also unlike the recent spate of thefts from local and secluded properties. Yet there is an air of amateurishness about the crime. The pictures taken were all, relatively speaking, cheap by comparison to those nearby worth millions.

Lulu can't help asking police officer-like questions of Julia, who was out shopping at the time. Thankfully, their friendship is good, and they talk things over, but little in the way of new evidence comes to light, or so it seems, from Lulu's perspective. Conrad, however, on a tour of the house, spots blood on the indoor pool loungers. A fact he tells Lulu about later on.

Both Lulu and Conrad stay the night. The following day, they continue to contemplate and investigate the crime, with Lulu discussing the matter with Tracey, the police officer in charge of the case. With the birthday celebration still taking place, the police support leaves the house, and soon after, the guests arrive. It is also where the next murder takes place. That's two thus far. This snowballs, and in the thick of the investigation, Lulu becomes a ride-along helper cum consultant to Tracey who is new to the role. Conrad, of course, goes too, riding on Lulu's shoulders.

It would be remiss if I catually, sorry, 'actually' said the who, where and how. Suffice it to say, the pages start turning quickly as the investigation widens and ultimately narrows down the suspects and comes to its dramatic conclusion. A conclusion aided by Conrad stepping up his game and stepping in, so to speak, to foil a villain.

OK, so as to the actual lists of murder victims, subsequent crimes, the investigation and suspects, you will just have to read for yourselves. 

So, what did we think?

Where book one set the scene for our characters, personality, etc. (see my book 1 review HERE), book two is very much about the adventure and the crimes. Don't get me wrong, the new location and crime scene are equally appealing.

There is everything to love about these two adventures; neither seems clichΓ©d, and each is delightfully different (arguably, poles apart) and addictive.

Of course, Conrad the cat has lost none of his magic and is a most excellent foil for ex-Detective Superintendant Lulu Lewis. There are still sage feline replies, but the banter has changed and matured as the two have grown together. One of the great things is how other humans react and interact with Conrad, and how Lulu manages to avert questions about who she is talking to. This does not mean his presence is belittled, far from it.

I have read many cosy mysteries, and the best have a special 'je ne sais quoi', the something extra that elevates them from the slew of similar and frankly repetitive stories. This series reminds me of the writings of the late great Lilian Jackson Braun. There is the same air of confidence and quiet style. Of course, the original cat in her book, Koko, could not talk.

I dearly loved the characterizations in this second book. The secondary characters have a depth that, I must surmise, reflects LT Shearer's observation of life and provides a suitable twist to the plot and our perception of the evidence we are presented and the assumptions we, as readers, make. I do like that.

The plotting works really well, and whilst Mrs H and I always have suspects of our own, I never got the feeling that we knew what would happen to any of the characters. Surprisingly (or not, given the writer's skill) the story ends with a moral question most would be pushed to answer. Where Conrad and Lulu end up next on their canal boat, called The Lark, is anyone's guess. I understand from LT that there are another two adventures in the planning.

So . . . . Crunch time.

Without a doubt, it is as masterful a cosy mystery as ever I have read. Ably mixing cosy mystery and detective fiction with a lovely dash of (ex)police procedural.

This is a page-turner that might just have non-cat owners adopting a cat. Those already blessed with a feline of their own may well already be wondering what crime-solving skills they possess.

Whatever your take on cats, we believe this book will have something for the murder mystery fan and make a perfect Christmas present. Heck, don't wait that long; buy a copy and pass it on!

I, for one, will be cueing up to buy them.

If you're intrigued – and I hope you will be by this review, Mrs H is planning to do a giveaway from her pension, stored in a very deep and hard-to-fathom purse protected by a large, grump, highland hedgehog.

One commenter on this post will receive a copy of book 1, The Cat Who Caught a Killer.

Only comments received up to midnight Sunday 29th October 2023 GMT will be included in the draw. The winner will need to be in an area covered by Amazon, be able to supply a postal address to receive an Amazon delivery and have parental permission where appropriate.

 

Want to buy a copy?


To get a copy, please cruise down to your local independent bookshop. Of course, a feline on the shoulders and solving a crime is optional, and nothing worse than who ate the last piece of cheesecake or finished the chilled Chardonnay at that! There are plenty out there (both book shops and cats, though I doubt many like Conrad), and each shop is just waiting to serve up whatever kind of mystery, cosy or otherwise, you desire.

LT SHEARER appreciates their anonymity (something we applaud) and doesn't have an author web page, but is on Facebook as @LTShearerofficial Look for the calico cat and book cover and you're in the right place.

Pan Macmillan's web page can be found HERE or type this:  https://www.panmacmillan.com/

 

I shall leave you with a casual selfie of me. I'm certainly not solving any crimes, and Mrs H says this is as criminally blatant angling for a tickle and some treats as she's ever seen!

 


 

πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

Till laters!

ERin

 

 


35 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. A great cat, wise and insightful. Well worth a read if you like the genre, even if you dont it is a great story. Thanks for visiting us too πŸ™‚
      ERin

      Delete
  2. That looks like a fun read! And we love your selfie, Erin!

    Purrs,
    The Chans

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is a good one. Definitely recommend it. You may win the first book, too!
      ERin

      Delete
  3. Another epic review Erin, Amber will be definitely adding this one to the Mewton-Clawson Library!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you. I know Amber will approve and enjoy this one.
      ERin

      Delete
  4. ERin, We hope you got your tickle and treats. That is certainly a most fetching selfie. The book also sounds most intriguing. A feline detective? What's not to love?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No treat as yet, so I may have to go on strike. Everything to love in these stories, truly, from setting to narrative.
      ERin

      Delete
  5. Erin, that is an adorable selfie of you. We love the position of your paws, and your head tilt.

    This book sound really good! We're going to add it to our ever-growing list.

    Hugs to you and Mrs. H. Hope that rain lets up soon, but nestling down on the duvet sounds pretty nice. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you. Yes, do add it to the list for Christmas. Either a gift to self or someone that will let you read it first πŸ˜‰
      ERin

      Delete
  6. Dear ERin, Lynn loves cat mystery books fur adults. Thanks and she will be looking fur this one. I'm with you on the tummy rubbin's though. I let Lynn read out loud to me while I'm comfy. Precious

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You will, I think, really enjoy LT's latest then. I wish you luck on our draw, too. Being read to is delightful and stress-free. Mrs H has Audible for times when her eyes ache too much.
      Have a great week and thank you for visiting.
      ERin

      Delete
  7. Lovely selfie, Erin! But...well, is your world upside down??! LOL!

    A good book, once again!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, an upside-down selfie is quite fun. The book is another excellent one from LT Shearer. I hope you get a chance to read it.
      ERin

      Delete
  8. ERin,
    Proof pawsitive that kitties are clever. What a fun review
    Hugs to you and Mom
    Cecilia

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cats are wise creatures, and maybe every detective should have one, be they police officers or newspaper journalists as in Lillian's books.
      ERin

      Delete
  9. I hope my comment appears. I bet mom has to approve first

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, Mrs H has to vet the comments if need be.
      ERin

      Delete
  10. da tabbies o trout towne22 October 2023 at 20:36

    ewe bee lookin most gorgeouz two day ERin !! hope ewe N mizzuz H are happee and healthee and
    well ~~~ heerz two a grate week a head !!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you on all counts. Wishing you all a wonderful and cat and fish-filled week of fun.
      ERin

      Delete
  11. Oh, that sounds pretty darn good and I love that we calico on the cover! That's quite the pretty selfie sweet Princess!

    ReplyDelete
  12. That sounds really interesting. I LOVE your selfie. I want to kiss that little nose of yours. XO

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you. I'm not sure how I can get my nose over to you to do that.....
      I think this series would be one for your TBR pile, for sure.
      ERin

      Delete
  13. This series sounds SO good!!! And Erin, that pose would get you BOTH a treat and tickle at our house!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It has been a delightfully addictive adult read, for sure. Thank you, but I am still owed the tummy tickle πŸ˜‰
      ERin

      Delete
  14. Replies
    1. Thank you. We does try our best, and the lessons are paying off. Mrs H's not mine as I'm a natural.
      ERin

      Delete
  15. Cute selfie!

    And yes, our books did arrive. Thank you so much!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you. And excellent re the books, thanks for confirming.
      ERin

      Delete
  16. The book sounds fabulous. You are most irresistable, Ms. Erin, and you'd get treats out of me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'll be around for the treats just as soon as I can find the bus, train and flight schedules ;)
      ERin

      Delete
  17. Oh no! We have been on holiday and I am too late for the draw. It does sound a great book though.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You'd enjoy it for sure. Let me see if I can find you a copy. πŸ™‚
      ERin

      Delete