Genre: Cozy Mystery
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: December 1st, 2020
Pages: 324, mass market paperback
The fourth in a mystery series from author Cate Conte, A Whisker of a Doubt is filled with felines and crime that’s purrrrfect for cat fanciers and mystery solvers alike!
Cat cafe owner Maddie James is trying to talk herself out of having a blue Christmas–relationship woes aren’t worth it, are they?–by throwing herself into work. The renovations on Grandpa Leo’s house-turned-cat-cafe are nearly complete, and she has a lot of organizing to do. Plus, she’s part of a volunteer contingency caring for a feral cat colony in one of the richest neighborhoods on the island. But not everyone has a soft spot for community cats, and lately things have been getting contentious between the neighbors and the volunteers.
Things take a turn for the worse when one of the residents, Virgil Proust, is found face-first in a snowbank after being bludgeoned with a Christmas gnome and Maddie’s rescue pal Katrina is blamed for the murder. Maddie doesn’t believe it, but to help her friend, she has to figure out who done it–before someone gets away with the purr-fect crime.
Maddie’s back in the fourth Cat Café mystery, A Whisker of a Doubt. Katrina, Maddie’s friend and the local animal control officer, has been accused of murdering one of the residents of a community where Maddie and other volunteers have been caring for a feral cat colony.
I want to like this series more than I do. The writing style is good, and I love most of the characters. Rescues are one of my causes, as well. But Maddie is just exhausting. She namedrops her retired police officer grandfather and hospital executive father in attempts to get her own way. She thinks a lawyer has control over a client’s bail, and should chip in to pay said bail. She whines about how things aren’t fair and demands that people do things that clearly won’t work. When her friends try to give her a reality check, she lashes out, even admitting she’s a jerk, but she does it anyway.
Other characters attribute qualities to her that she clearly does not possess. Her grandfather says that she would have made a good police officer, but Maddie is far too immature and her kneejerk reactions are all emotional. Her friend Cass says that Maddie can tell when people are lying, but Maddie mentions several times how she’s been lied to in relationships.
Then there are the plot issues. There are several implausible scenes, and one that is only there to provide drama. No details, because of spoilers, but a local small-town cop is not going to have access to do a large-scale search in the records of jurisdictions in other states to find dirt on someone. Also, even assuming that you get only one phone call in jail, wouldn’t you have the sense to call someone who can handle things for you? It just felt contrived.
The premise is good and, if Maddie would just grow up, the series would be enjoyable.