Title: Cat Bearing Gifts: A Joe Grey Mystery by Shirley Rousseau Murphy
Published November 20, 2012; William Morrow
This is the 18th in the Joel Grey Mystery series, featuring several talking cat sleuths. I have not read many of the talking cat mystery novels, preferring dogs in crime fiction, but I was willing to give this new book a try. I liked the cover of the book, the colorful artwork and the cat decorated in jewels.
The first half of the book was enjoyable. I didn't mind a group of speaking cats who could use cell phones to dial 911 or call their friends or owners in the course of the mystery. But once the novel began to discuss trips to the Netherworld where a strange world existed underground, a place that may be the origin of the mystical powers of cats and the source of the jewelry, and once two of the cats began to squabble like humans about whether or not to take a trip there, well...... that stretched it a bit for me.
The crime plot by itself would have been fine, even with speaking cat sleuths. I would have preferred to see the rest, the mystical parts, taken out of this mystery novel.
Publisher's book description: "On the way home from visiting their friend Kate Osborne in San Francisco, tortoiseshell cat, Kit, and her elderly housemates, Lucinda and Pedric Greenlaw, are hurt in a car crash on a winding coastal road. Then two men steal the Greenlaws' town car, making off with a secret hoard of jewels and gold hidden inside its doors. As paramedics rush the Greenlaws to the emergency room, Kit hides from hungry coyotes in the forested hills above the highway, waiting for Joe, Pan, and their human companions, Ryan and Clyde Damen, to rescue her.
Back home in Molena Point, Joe Grey and his tabby lady prowl an abandoned stone cottage where they've discovered two rough-looking men hiding. The cats smell mildewed money, and soon smell human blood, too, and they wonder: Could these unsettling incidents be tied to the injury of the Greenlaws and to the theft of their car and treasure? Could they be, as well, part of the larger mystery involving the very source of the cats' magical powers?
Though the cats know more than the thieves about the unique items stolen, only slowly, and after two sudden murders, do they claw their way to the truth, examining the source of the gold and jewels, understanding the secrets of the moldering treasury bills—the mystery of their source, generations past..."