Friday, January 4, 2019

Cat Got Your Crown (A Kitty Couture Mystery #4)

Author:  Julie Chase
Genre:  Mystery

Hardcover; Digital Book
ISBN #:  9781683319566
Crooked Lane Books
320 Pages
$26.99; $12.99 Amazon
March 13, 2019


Lacy Marie Crocker can hardly believe it's been a year since her return home to New Orleans.  There hasn't been a dull moment since opening her pet boutique last summer, and thanks to the popularity of Lacy's organic pet treats, and the arrival of the National Pet Pageant, Lacy desperately needs some help before she is overrun by the demand for pupcakes and crinolines.

The entire Garden District seems to be counting the minutes until opening night of the pet pageant and everything is going spectacularly until Viktor Petrov, the pageant emcee takes a spill from the balcony during dress rehearsal.  All signs point to murder and homicide detective Jack Oliver sets his eyes on Eva Little, one of Lacy's committee sisters and the only other person on the balcony at the time of the fall, as the killer.  But when it comes out that Viktor was notoriously rude, the doors blow wide open with potential suspects who could've wanted him dead.

Lacy's determined to find the killer and exonerate Eva, but when Lacy receives a mysterious warning - a plush kitty from Lacy's shop with its mouth crudely stitched over - it's clear that she's been found first.


Lacy Marie Crocker owns a pet boutique and bakery in New Orleans.  While she'd be more than happy to just run her business, fate (and her socialite mother) have other plans.  She's been railroaded into working at the National Pet Pageant, and has been busy running around repairing costumes for the contestants.  She's also been spending time with Homicide Detective Jack Oliver, even if it's only been for a lunch every now and then.  But unfortunately, while they're thinking of sneaking out for a private lunch instead of the buffet offered, pageant emcee Viktor Petrov plunges to death in front of her.

Still recovering from a close call with a murderer, Lacy is having a difficult time dealing with this added stress.  While she'd like nothing more than to distance herself from the murder and let Jack do his job, she soon receives a warning - one of the stuffed cats from her shop is returned to her home by courier - with its eyes sewn with little x's and a threatening note.  Now it's become a personal attack, so Lacy decides she needs to get involved before it escalates.  But when it most certainly does, will Jack be able to find a killer before a killer finds her?...

This is the fourth book in the series and I have to say that I'm surprised each book has gone on to be better than the last.  It seems as if while watching Lacy's life evolve, so has the writing.  This is a true plus in any series, and one that will bring readers back for more.

Lacy's personal life is not only in danger, she's still got Chase hot on her heels, right where she needs him every time; and Jack not far behind.  I do enjoy the fact that this isn't the tired, old love triangle.  There's a definite preference, which makes the book readable instead of 'rolling your eyes-able'.

Lacy is also finding her ground with her mother, and that relationship has progressed nicely; I've come to be fond of Violet Conti-Crocker.  We also have a new addition in the form of Willow, a sort of hippie young woman whom Lacy immediately takes to, and someone else is fond of her as well.

I loved the descriptions of New Orleans, and having never been, seeing the city through Lacy's eyes makes me want to hop on a plane and visit.  I only wish I could have her as my tour guide.  Ms. Chase's depictions are delightful and enticing; bringing the pages to life.  Her characters are believable and animated, their personalities also evolving through the series as we learn more about them and their lives.

There's a lot going on in the story, yet it never detracts from the mystery itself, which is well-written and taut.  We watch as Lacy struggles to figure out who might want her dead, but with over a hundred suspects - all attendees at the pageant - how many of them not only had Viktor marked for murder, but now her?  She's promised her mother to see that Eva Little, who was standing near Viktor, isn't railroaded into jail, but in order to do that she needs to deduce who had the right motive.

It seems Viktor had a lot of people angry at him for various reasons, (none of which I will name here in order not to give too much away for people who have yet to read the book) and any one of them could have pushed him from behind.  Sifting through the suspects isn't going to be an easy task, and when the ante on Lacy's life is upped, it also becomes a priority to close the case.

When the murderer is revealed it came somewhat as a surprise; the climactic scene between Lacy and the killer (as we know there will be one) was all that anyone could have asked for.  It was suspenseful and well worth reading.  The reasons for the murder made perfect sense - in the mind of the murderer, of course - and also in the context of the plot; a worthy effort.  In the end, the book was indeed entertaining, an enjoyable mystery; and I look forward to the next in the series.  Recommended.


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