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Sunday 21 April 2024

CAT AMONG THE PUMPKINS

 

by Mandy Morton;  

Cover by Jason Anscomb    


                                                                               

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

 

Hello, and welcome to my weekend Book Review featuring this week an Adventure in Adult Feline Fiction.

 

Mrs H has been busy this week. OK, as busy as she ever is, with the added event of a surveyor calling at the Manor House. Five hours later, after much measuring, humming and harring, along with two cups of coffee and lots of dunkable chocolate biscuits, he finished. He seemed impressed with my mouse-free attic and spacious mole-free lawns. He was less impressed with Mrs H's cluttered bedroom but said it would do, just so long as she cleared out the laundry and her wardrobe. 


Why, I hear you say? If you think I'm making room for lodgers or planning to extend my cat tree, I should advise that I have applied to adopt a lonely heat pump. Yes, it seems the UK government are asking residents to home one of these many now homeless pumps. They will even give us a hefty one-off payment of £7,500. In return, the pumps will heat the Manor House and provide hot water, which means we won't have a big gas bill or pollute the atmosphere. We, of course, must provide the electricity so they can work day and night. I did my research, and whilst it seems a bit of a raw deal to expect them to work 24/7 for 6 months of the year, they do get the summer months off. 

 

All in all, the minor modifications to Mrs H's bedroom to accommodate all their gear and a water tank will cost £500. It's a win-win situation: somewhere nice and warm for me to perch on outside and read the latest HOT new releases during the summer, and plenty of room for afternoon tea to be served on!


But enough of my exciting tech news, let's get on with some serious feline detective fun. This week, we bring you . . . 

 


 

AUTHOR: Mandy Morton

 

Cover art by: Jason Anscomb

 

Published by: Farrago

 

Publication date Paperback: Latest edition October 2023

 

Paperback ISBN: 978-1788424653


UK Cover price for Paperback: £9.99 


Kindle UK price: £2.99 

 

Pages: 240

 

Age range: Adult


Any dogs or cats? All cats and no humans. 


 

 

SPOILER ALERT


Some as to plot direction and characters. To read our review of Book One: The No.2 Feline Detective Agency, click this TEXT.

 

 

Thank you to... 

 

I am exceedingly grateful to Mrs H for the privilege of getting to Read & Review this 2nd book in the series. 


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. 


This week, we thought we'd give you a short list of The Characters.


Hettie Bagshot and Tilly Jenkins. Long-haired tabby cat investigators at the No.2 Feline Detective Agency, who live and work from a room behind the bakery.


Beryl and Betty. Level-headed, businesslike and charming motherly owners of the bakery and Hettie and Till's landladies. 


The Dosh Family. Rogan, Pakora, Balti, etc., own and run the increasing Dosh Store empire. 


Miss Irene Peggledrip. The town's resident Medium.


Delirium Treemint. Ever ready to serve refreshments with her trusty samovar. She is prone to breaking tea services at an alarming rate. She is also a trainee medium under Miss Peggledrip.


Crimola. A huffy, sometimes obstinate, spirit guide that lives part-time in Miss Peggledrip's head.

 

Bruiser Venutious. A now elderly travelling cat, a fighter, scarred and not keen on four walls. He is a longtime friend of Hettie from her musician days on the road. 


Jess. The proprietor of a charity shop where many of the townscats do business and where Tilly gets all her cardigans.


Milky Myers. Longtime past mass murder of his kin, and said to haunt the village and the house his family once lived in, now Miss Peggledrip's home.


Mavis Spitforce. Our first but not last victim. Historian, family tree researcher, and resides opposite the local Dosh Store. 


Marmite Sprat is a self-appointed historian and writer of what Hettie would call 'Penny Dreadful' tales under the title Strange but True, which are based more on speculation than fact.


Lavender Stamp. The jilted and curmudgeonly postmistress. Knitter of lifesize male cats for company.


Bugs Anderton. A sizeable Scottish ginger cat. President of the town's Friendship Club and a force to be reconned with, though well-meaning.

 


The plot

It is Halloween evening, and our two heroes and budding investigators are settling down for a night in and a scary movie as befits the season. The two start talking about Milky Myers, who lived 'longer ago than anyone can remember' and murdered his family. But on Halloween, he returns to haunt the area and his old house, now the home of Miss Peggledrip. Will he walk the town that night?


The following morning dawns with the surprise arrival of Bruiser. The Butter sisters give him something to eat and Hettie and Tilly make room in the shed for him to lay his head. Loving motorbikes, Bruiser soon comes in handy to take our detectives on trips out in Miss Scarlet, their bright red motorcycle with sidecar. 


Whilst Hettie is giving a lecture at the club, when the postlady, Teezle Makepeace, bursts in screaming MURDER!


Hettie goes to the house where Mavis Spitforce lives and discovers her dead, stabbed in the back, wearing a witch's hat, eye mask and draped in a pumpkin-coloured silk cloak. Halloween had taken a nasty turn in No. 19 Whisker Terrace.


What happens next reveals that Mavis is working on an accurate history of Milky Myers. With her mouth stuffed with pages from Marmite's book, one obvious cat is in the frame. The suspect list increases when Hettie discovers the primary beneficiary of the will is Irene Peggledrip, who bursts in on the scene and thinks Hettie has committed the murder. Realising this isn't the case, she suggests the detectives come to one of her sessions to speak to the spirits. But should Hettie and Tilly risk going with a potential murderer?

 

But the more our team digs, the broader and more confusing the investigation becomes. The disappearance of Teezle the following day brings more complications and creates another suspect. No matter how they look at it, the matter appears to be linked to the Milky Myers all the years before. To solve this latest murder and those that come, they need to solve the Milky Myers murders, too! But is that possible, given it happened farther back than anyone can recall? 


Joining the dots will take all the brainpower and help Hettie can get, be it spiritual or earthly, not forgetting all the cream cakes and pies they can muster to keep the energy up in the cold and strangely snowy weather. The thing is, will Hettie recognise and accept what she sees? 


Through all of this, we have a family feud between the senior and younger Dosh family, and an intercultural romance to deal with. With a far-from-healthy love of gruesome, bloody murder, is Balti Dosh to be trusted? And why is the advice from the vicar of Milky Myers' village seemingly so obtuse and evasive?

Not wishing to spoil this adventure for you, I must stop there. The best, I assure you, is still to come.

 

 



What did we think?

Whether or not you're a cat lover, these adventures will draw you in. It could be the tongue-in-cheek names of locals, as seen above, or the names of villages and towns, like Much Purring on the Rug. 

We have a cracking and twisty plot, better than many a cosy. Hetties, scepticism, sarcasm, frustration and even heartfelt loss and joy are palpable foils, honest reactions that we, too, may have to the quirky cast and the situations they end up in. 

There is a particular moment, a strange revelation, that we loved. It had us going back to see if there were clues we had missed. We had missed them all. Such a clever plot. Woven into this story are a few others. Good or bad, everything is presented just right. 


Whether justice is served in Hettie's world remains for you, dear readers, to discover for yourselves. Let us just add that sometimes, like revenge, justice is served hot as well as cold. 


So . . . . 

Crunch time. 

If book one whetted your appetite, this is a must-read. Yes, you could read any of the soon-to-be thirteen books and feel at home with the cast and situation of their world. But we think it's best to start at the beginning. We are keen observers of cosy and murder mysteries featuring felines, and this is one of the best. Buy and enjoy, then share with friends. 

 


Want to buy a copy?

To get a copy, jump into your own sidecar and roar down to your local independent bookshop. If you have a Dosh Store of your own, you could even try there, but maybe best to steer clear of the contents of the large cooking pot.

 


Mandy Morton's short author page at Farrago Books can be found HERE or type this: https://farragobooks.com/fb-author/mandy-morton/

Farrago Book's web page can be found HERE or type this: https://farragobooks.com/

Hettie Bagshot can be found on both Facebook and Twitter.


We are joining the Sunday Selfies, hosted by the wonderful Kitties Blue and their mum, Janet Blue, from the Cat on My Head blog in America. Click this link to see Janet Blue's selfie page.

Small image. The Cat on My Head Sunday Selfies Blog Hop badge. Features a yellow-haired lady with a tuxedo cat on her head.

I shall leave you with a toe-warming selfie. I moved later on to get my front toes sorted, too. As you can see, I was not too keen on my mid-morning snack, and as is the way when that happens, I ate only the jelly.

 

Till Laters!

ERin

 



 
 


23 comments:

  1. That is a Most Delightful Selfie, ERin - and the book sounds great too!

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  2. ERin what a purrfectly beautiful book jacket for the book
    MOL MOL you have a soft rug, a bit of a sun puddle and food. You are set for the day
    Hugs Cecilia

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jason has done a lovely cover. There is more than one set of covers as the series has aged. So do look out for them.
      ERin

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  3. That book does sound really good and I sure enjoyed your review! Oh, I like the cover too and of course, your wonderful selfie. Good luck with the heat pump. We had one before and it didn't work worth a hoot for heating.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you. I'll let Mrs H sort out the pump thing. Though the big fan could be awesome in the summer heatwave ;)
      ERin

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  4. I am glad you explained your selfie, Erin. I thought you had collapsed with hunger trying to reach your food. That sounds like another great book.

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    Replies
    1. Ha! as Mrs H would say. Me, starve, that would be the day. And to be fair, that's pretty much true.
      ERin

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  5. Very cute selfie of you warming your toes. Great review, it sounds like something I would like and I love the cover. XO

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    Replies
    1. Thank you. And the series is beautifully fun and involved, the Audible version even better for our money.
      ERin

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  6. This sounds amazin', Erin. Amazin'! PURRS

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Seville, I think you'd love this one too.
      ERin

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  7. Replies
    1. A fan. I can see you're hooked also. New one coming out in May I believe...
      ERin

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  8. This is ONE series I need to get into Erin!

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    Replies
    1. You do, absolutely. Paul does, too; I think he'd enjoy it.
      ERin

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  9. What a great selfie, ERin. Sorry the food was not to your liking, though.

    The book sounds like a good one. And 13 books in the series? That will keep us busy for a bit. :)

    We hope all goes well with the heat pump.
    XO

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    Replies
    1. Thank you. And yes, that's lots to read. All different and magically entertaining, especially on Audible. Mrs H has also started to re-read them.
      ERin

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  10. The series sounds great we always like to start at the beginning of a series. We hope the heat pump goes well, although if it's anything like ours it's not a very good place to perch. We are not sure they are the same as ours doesn't get the summer off as it cools too, which makes you wonder why the humans call it a heat pump.

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    Replies
    1. I do hope you get to sample this series. I'll have to make sure I get them gainful employment for the two-week heatwave we seem to get these years. Maybe over time, too. 🙂
      ERin

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  11. Oh Erin, you remind us of Angel Binky. She also did eat mostly her jelly, or the juice, and left the food in the cup, it changed when she got other food😸😸We hope the heat pump does what it promisses🙏Great review of as it sounds a good read! Double Pawkisses for a Happy Week ahead to you and Mrs H too🐾😽💞

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  12. Its so annoying when our sunpuddles don't stay still long enough for us to really get warmed up...yup, us pups love those sunpuddles too!

    We have a heat pump...it does the cooling and the heating, depending on the season, but if it gets too cold,then the gas furnace kicks in...so I guess its is a dual functioning one...flex-fueled!

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  13. "Much Purring on the Rug" Hahaha! I love that!

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