Thursday, June 27, 2013

Hamlet - {Sigh} My New Hero!!! Stars in Black Cat Bookshop Mystery Series by Ali Brandon!

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A Novel Way to Die:
A Black Cat Bookshop

By Ali Brandon

My Cat Ricci Checking Out Hamlet! And Other Hunks!
I didn't have a choice with this one, readers. Ricki was still swooning over how Hamlet acted in the climax of this story, that she refused to let me invite him to at a distance, and all that, I guess...

But that was alright with me, because this was the first time I'd read Ali Brandon's new series, although I immediately went out to throw the first book in the series in my shopping cart! So I really wanted to spend some time telling about this book.

First of all, this was a fantastic mystery! I love cozy mysteries, but, in my opinion, this novel could easily move into the full-fledged mystery genre. It doesn't follow the normal pattern for several reasons...

For one, you rarely get thrills in cozies...but you do in this novel! You get action that is exciting, dangerous, and a confusing possibility of whodunit that keeps you guessing all the way until the end--and even then there were surprises, nice ones...which was cool!

"Let's get this over with," Darla told the girl.
"Go ahead and bring your things:--she'd learned
not to let a potential hiree leave behind anything
they'd have to come back for later--"and we'll go
down to the main store to find him...
"That's the nickel tour," Darla ended with a
smile. "Now, about Hamlet--"
"There he is." Madison cut her short, smiling
and pointing to the nearest bookshelf. There,
...the cat was stretched at full length, snoozing.
But Hamlet was not the stereotypical scrawny
Halloween scaredy-cat.
"Cliche as the notion was, Darla had always
thought of Hamlet as a scaled-down panther...
"Before Darla could warn her, the girl hurried
over to the cat. She put out one French-
manicured hand in his direction, as if to pet
him. Barely was Madison out of claws' reach
than Hamlet sprang to his feet and swiped..."
Darla Pettistone also does not intentionally become the only investigator on the case. She has a PI who lives in her newly inherited building and is not afraid to call on her at any time. She also has a bookstore manager and has just hired a part-time helper in this book, as well as a police officer who is willing to share info as appropriate... That allows readers to hear, digest, consider, and reconsider who is guilty...

Of murder, of course!

Hamlet on the other hand is unique. He's not a friendly cat. Even Darla and he are still quite formal with each other.

You see, Darla doesn't even like cats, and certainly would have never planned on having one live (and work) with her! But Hamlet came with the building! So did James, the Manager and a former English professor, and Jake, the PI, was already living in one apartment. Darla's apartment is above the shop and has an indoor entrance to the bookstore... Why am I telling you so many details? Well, I just know cat mystery followers are going to follow and we need to get to know the basic characters as quickly as possible, right?!
"Yo, fist bump, little guy," he said,
still grinning [next applicant, Robert!]
"Darla held her breath and winced. To
her astonishment, however, no claws
ensued. Instead, Hamlet gave a quick
meormph and, to her even greater
amazement, appeared to return the
Darla is interviewing people for her part-time job as the novel opens. So far, none have been acceptable to Hamlet! That's right, Darla has to give him final authority; otherwise, that individual will undoubtedly not stay because of what Hamlet is bound to do to them...Ha! Have you ever had to try to persuade a cat to accept you? I have, and it's not easy and there's no fast way to get it done! But  my Tracey became one of my very favorite companions, so it is well worth it! Check out her eyes! You definitely know when this cat doesn't like you!

Hamlet, on the other hand, turns his back on you, flips up one of this legs and starts showing his opinion of you, while cleaning himself, or worse! Ahhh, I didn't dare add this pic or Ricci would have been horrified....

Anyway, the murder! Well, there were two men in town who were restoring the brownstones...and they had become customers at the Bookstore, sending special orders in for books related to restorations. Curt was not a guy that Darla could easily deal with, while she had eyed up his partner Barry as...potential. That day, however, Curt had come in to check on a special order and at the same time, Robert's ex-boss, who was called "not-so-great ape" had come in, giving them both a hard time! It was clear that Robert was somewhat afraid of this dude, so Darla had taken over and was settling things...Then the two men got into it, until Darla threatened to call the police...

But before that happened, Curt had warned Darla that there was somebody stealing scrap from the older houses and had even broken into some of the ones being used... He cautioned her to be more vigilant and Darla planned on doing just that, as well as alerting Jake!

Robert became a useful new employee and things were getting back to normal when Barry stopped in to pick up the order, which was there and then invited Darla to walk with him back to their site and see the "before" picture of their building. So it was actually Darla who saw the body first...Barry's long-time partner Curt was clearly dead...

And as the investigation started, and Darla and local shop owners were gossiping, it was discovered that Curt's girlfriend, and the daughter of one of the shop owners, had disappeared! Surprisingly, Jake had already started an investigation about Curt for that same shop owner! Who exactly was this guy?!

But Darla is in a panic, because she saw paw prints around that body! And she discovered that, somehow, Hamlet, supposedly an inside cat, was routinely getting out! All she could think about was how Hamlet would take off running, through her legs, often causing her to almost fall! Maybe Hamlet had caused this!

Hamlet's Clues
"Hamlet flipped over onto his side and gave her a cool green look as if to say,  I've done my part, clueless human. Now go prove why you're supposedly the dominant species. Which wasn't much help at all.

This is a clue in the book that I threw in...cause I love the song!

I am so excited to find this new series...the last cat cozy I read really was a downer and, of course, I was disappointed. I haven't decided whether to write a review--I do so hate saying a book wasn't good, don't you? Especially, my favorite kind! For those fanatics like me, YES, Get it! For those who like a good mystery but don't like the cute won't get it in this one--pure mystery, legitimate clues (see below) and a climatic ending that will set your heart pounding! Highly recommended...Easy a 5+ novel...

OK, review readers, Here's a quiz from BRH! Who was another cat who did this type of clue demonstration and/or the author of the cozy series...


ALI BRANDON is the national bestselling author of DOUBLE BOOKED FOR DEATH, the first in her new Black Cat Bookshop mystery series from Berkley Prime Crime. Writing as DIANE A.S. STUCKART, she's also the author of the popular Leonardo da Vinci mysteries, which have received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Library Journal, as well as a Florida Book Award Silver medal. Under the names Alexa Smart and Anna Gerard, she published several critically-acclaimed historical romances from Pinnacle Books. A native Texan with a degree in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma, Diane now lives in South Florida. Visit her at or for more info, or see her other Amazon author page at
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