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by Cate Conte
St. Martin's Press, June 2019
326 pages
ISBN: 1250072085

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

In a single morning, Maddie James discovers the gentleman working on his computer daily in her cat café, JJ's House of Purrs, is bestselling author Jason Holt and he seems to know Thea Coleman, who walks into the café and immediately claims that JJ is her cat.

In short order, Cate Conte lays out the victims in her third Cat Café Mystery and viable suspects aren't hard to find.

First, Jason Holt is found dead in the water at the marina and Maddie just found out he is a bestselling thriller writer who's been working at a table in her café for the past couple of weeks. Now, he turns up murdered. Maddie's grandfather and former police chief becomes involved because a local character, The Leopard Man, and good friend is a person of interest. Other suspects include Holt's wife Lexie and Zach, his co-writer. Seems there is a life insurance policy, and both are looking for Jason's computer and notes.

Next, Thea Coleman walks into the cat café and claims that JJ is her cat, one she lost as a kitten on one of her visits to Daybreak Harbor. She argues that she recognizes him from the mark on his nose. After the confrontation over JJ, Maddie observes Thea in conversation with The Leopard Man and curious, she tries to find out who Thea is, her relationship to Daybreak Harbor and what she's doing on the island now.

Then, wealthy Ava-Rose Burton retains Maddie's sister Val to plan a Thanksgiving feast and coerces Maddie into investigating thefts of artifacts at the Yacht Club. Ava-Rose had complained to the Yacht Club board only to be ignored and accused of having dementia. Now, she insists that Maddie, Val and she stake out the club offices at night to discover who is stealing valuable ship replicas.

While all this is going on, Maddie still runs the cat café, is looking for a place to open a juice bar and finds time to spend with boyfriend Lucas. Cate Conte's mystery is well conceived, complex, and comforting as established characters' secrets are revealed. The steady pace and the author's ability to easily shift between subplots makes this a engaging read.

§ Ruth Castleberry has worked as an investigator for Pinkerton’s, a city desk assistant on the Charlotte News, free-lance writer, marketing/business strategy consultant, competitive intelligence practitioner and digital marketing consultant.

Reviewed by Ruth Castleberry, June 2019

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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