Friday, May 11, 2018

A Cat in the Manger (An Alice Nestleton Mystery #1)

Author:  Lydia Adamson
Genre:  Mystery

Paperback; Mass Market Paperback; Digital Book
ISBN #:  9780792706632; 9780451167873
Signet Publishing
208 Pages
Various Prices Amazon
November 6, 1990



Off-off Broadway actress-turned-sleuth Alice Nestleton is just crazy about cats, particularly her Maine Coon cat Bushy and zany alleycat Pancho.  Now she's hoping for a merry little Christmas peacefully cat-sitting at a sprawling Long Island estate, where she expects to be greeted by eight howling Himalayans.  Instead, she finds herself face to bloody face with a grisly corpse.  Alice has unwittingly stepped into a deadly conspiracy of high-stakes horse racing, sinister seduction, and missing cash.  She knows she'd better count on her cat's clever instincts and nine lives, since her own curiosity has landed her just a whisker away from death...

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Alice Nestleton is an actress who makes ends meet by cat-sitting.  Every year she heads to Long Island to cat sit for Harry and Jo Starobin, and this year is no different.  Except when she arrives Harry isn't there to greet her.  And when she arrives at the little cottage she stays at, no one is there to greet her, either...except for Harry's corpse, strung up behind the door.  Now Jo wants her to help find out who murdered Harry, because she's convinced it's murder.  And even when there's another murder and Alice decides to step back from the investigation, she can't help the nagging feeling she's getting that she's close to something terribly wrong that just might be the right answers after all...

I decided to read this book because it was about Christmas, which I love (except it isn't), and cats, which I also love (except her cats play an extremely minor role - as in practically non-existent).  In fact, I can't even think of when I've read a first-in-a-series book that disappointed me so deftly.

This book is, in fact, All About Alice.  All about how Alice is an 'actress' but evidently not enough of one to get asked to actually act, since she's gone off the rails and only wants to do avant-garde productions; and I would think that most (if not all) actresses know that if you want to act, you have to act.  In other words, take the roles that are offered and then perhaps you can command something you want to do.  Which roughly translates to Alice is a cat-sitter who sometimes gets to go on stage.  She sure isn't making a living at it.

We rarely get any time at all with her cats; they exist, but not much is said about them.  I get the feeling that if Alice was a little more lively, then Pancho might be willing to settle down and allow her to pet him.  Alice has no personality, to speak of; she's boring as all get out.  She seems like one of those women that you never see smile or show any kind of emotion; which is probably why she likes to act - at least she gets to feel something.

Then there's the factor of Alice's sex life (not love life, sex life).  Because she certainly doesn't have a love life, and the person she's decided to have sex with is, well, just that:  the person she's decided to have sex with.  Not to mention she calls him by both names.  As in Charlie Coombs.  Sort of as if she thinks if she doesn't mention both his first and last names we'll get him confused with someone else named Charlie (we won't; he's the only one in the book).  Who on earth calls their lover by both their first and last names even in their heads?  That's just strange.

Which brings us to the fact that our Alice is deluded.  As in bipolar, or worse.  She thinks Charlie is spying on her, she thinks she's being followed (when probably neither are true).  You also have the requisite police detective who thinks she's bonkers (and he's not far off) and of course, Alice solves the case (as we knew she would).

Then there's the little fact that Alice was upset because she didn't get to sleep with a man who was (almost) twice as old as she was.  That's right; she's 41; he was 79.  I.  Can't.  Even.  Imagine.  I don't care how funny or attractive he was, he was almost eighty years old and she rues the fact that someone else got the chance to have an affair with him.  It's a major 'ick' factor right there.

In the end, this book was all over the place, with nearly every conversation taking place in Alice's head and a lot of them were ramblings on her love life and career - neither of which seemed very interesting.  I'm not sure I'd be willing to read another in this series, and I'm puzzled how it went on so long unless it seriously improved.

https://www.amazon.com/Cat-Manger-Alice-Nestleton-Mystery/dp/0451167872/

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2389033719

More on Lydia Adamson's Books:  https://www.fantasticfiction.com/a/lydia-adamson/

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