Set in New Hampshire, this cosy mystery features a Ragdoll
cat -- among others. If you love cats, you'll enjoy this
tale with plenty of feline characters providing the title
ESCAPE CLAWS. Lara Caphart has come to the small town of
Whisker Jog to check on her senior relative who is gaining
the name of the mad cat lady. Normally, that's Aunt Fran's
affair, but now she has a damaged knee and can't manage as
well as she used to... the house could do with some cleaning.
Luckily Lara likes cats, though eleven at once is somewhat
I enjoyed the characterisation. So little happens in the
locale that the journalist has a day job as accountant.
Crime is shocking and affects everyone. Not that everyone
is upset by the death, far from it. But those who find it
convenient may now be suspects. Not to mention, Lara
doesn't want to leave her vulnerable aunt until the killer
is caught. We see how people are interdependent and small
business is the lifeblood of the town. Aunt Fran is
actually a good role model for the older person, wanting to
be self-sufficient, with a valuable store of memories. Her
lively cats keep her from being lonely or bored. And Lara
does drawing and painting, and describes how she sells her
work, so she is not just a token artist.
Linda Reilly has created a totally credible and well
written cosy mystery, with a very slight touch of the
paranormal, which might be accounted for by the number of
cats. I enjoyed every page. Previously this Berkshires
author has written a series about a fry cook, but I think
the Cat Lady Mysteries is a great
idea, if only because
an artist is out and about and a good observer. ESCAPE
CLAWS is a smashing start and I'll be looking out for more.
For the first time in sixteen years, Lara Caphart has
returned to her hometown of Whisker Jog, New Hampshire. She
wants to reconnect with her estranged Aunt Fran, who's
having some difficulty looking after herself-and her eleven
cats. Taking care of a clowder of kitties is easy, but
keeping Fran from being harassed by local bully Theo Barnes
is hard. The wealthy builder has his sights set on Fran's
property, and is determined to make her an offer she
doesn't dare refuse.
Then Lara spots a blue-eyed ragdoll cat that she swears is
the reincarnation of her beloved Blue, her childhood pet.
Pursuing the feline to the edge of Fran's yard, she
stumbles upon the body of Theo Barnes, clearly a victim of
foul play. To get her and Fran off the suspect list, Lara
finds herself following the cat's clues in search of a
killer. Is Blue's ghost really trying to help her solve a
murder, or has Lara inhaled too much catnip?
Hugging herself against the morning chill, Lara strolled
toward the top of the hill and looked out over the
landscape. A light wind lifted the ends of her hair. In the
meadow below, behind the town park, the field grasses
tilted in the breeze. How many winters had she sledded on
this hill, gliding down the snowy slope on her auntâ€™s
ancient Flexible Flyer? This was the parcel of land, she
realized, that Theo Barnes had been pressuring her aunt to
From where she stood, the block that housed Sherryâ€™s coffee
shop was visible. Across the street from that was the town
library, a one-story red brick affair that looked as if it
hadnâ€™t changed in decades. Another old building squatted
next to the library. With its dreary gray shingles and
shallow front steps, it had all the trappings of an ugly
A sudden flurry of movement in the meadow caught Laraâ€™s
attention. It was an animal on the prowl, sleek and
Lara took in a quick breath.
It was Blue, stalking through the field toward the base of
the hill, her aquamarine eyes seemingly fixed on Laraâ€™s.
â€śBlue,â€ť she called softly to the cat. â€śCome here, sweet
The cat continued moving but then shot off through the tall
grass, heading in the direction of the brook.
Lara scuttled down the hill as quickly as she could,
determined to catch up with the elusive feline. The cat was
trotting through the grassy field as if on a mission. Lara
was so focused on keeping Blue in her line of vision that
she didnâ€™t notice the jutting rock embedded in the ground.
It caught the toe of her boot. In the next instant she
pitched forward, her arms flailing in a clumsy attempt to
break her fall. She tumbled to the ground, skidding on her
stomach, almost to the bottom of the hill.
For a moment Lara just lay there, her breath coming in
sharp gasps. She rolled over and sat up, groaning as she
tested her limbs. Everything worked, although the palm of
her right hand was scraped and sore.
After tossing a few colorful curses at the rock that
betrayed her, she hauled herself to her feet and began
brushing dirt and grass from her hands and sweater. She
slapped at her jeans to dislodge the clinging bits of dirt
and grass. She hoped Aunt Franâ€™s washing machine was in
good working condition. At the rate she was going, sheâ€™d be
running a load through very soon.
One last time, Lara glanced around for any sign of Blue,
but the cat was MIA. By now Aunt Fran was probably awake
and wondering where sheâ€™d disappeared to. She felt her
stomach rumble. It was time she made breakfast for the two
Lara turned to start back up the hill when something caught
her eyeâ€”a swatch of red, maybe thirty feet away, that she
hadnâ€™t noticed before. Whatever it was, it was slumped
behind the granite bench at the rear of the townâ€™s
property. Had someone left an old blanket there? Could it
be something that belonged to Aunt Fran?
She moved gingerly toward the red lump. A weird chill crept
up her spine. Nothing in the meadow had ever frightened her
before, but now she felt oddly afraid.
Lara halted abruptly in her tracks.
It wasnâ€™t a blanket, as sheâ€™d first thought. It was a
jacketâ€”a red-and-black checkered jacket.
A jacket still worn by its very dead owner, Theo Barnes.