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The Farmer’s Market series.

The Farmer’ Market mystery series stars short, blonde, twice-divorced Becca Robins, the jam lady of Bailey’s Farmers’ Market just outside Monson, South Carolina. Her fraternal twin, Alison manages Bailey’s, which is well-known as one of the best fresh food markets in the area.  Abner, the wild flower man, Bo, the onion guy and many other vendors–some flakier than others–make up the interesting set of minor characters.  Becca’s boyfriend Ian, handsome and 10 years her junior, sells his large metal lawn sculpture at the market. All this, plus recipes, of course, adds up to a tasty series of cozies.  A Killer Maize (Berkley, 12/4/2012) is the newest book in the series.  In this one, the dead ferris wheel operator is found hanging from his ride.   Author Paige Shelton also writes the “Cooking School” mysteries.


Posted November/28/2012

New academic mystery series

Here is a new series for readers who enjoy academic mysteries.  Forty-something Dr. Sophie Knowles teaches mathematics at the small, previously all female, Henley College in suburban Boston. She enjoys putting fun into her math teaching, so she is well-liked by her students, if not by the prim and critical Dean Phyllis Underwood. Sophie’s boyfriend Bruce pilots a helicopter for a medical rescue and evacuation service. The crimes that Sophie gets drawn into investigating usually take place on campus–first a teacher is murdered in The Square Root of Murder (Berkley, 2011), then the librarian in The  Probability of Murder (Berkley, 2012).  Math-anxiety sufferers needn’t fear, no higher math is required to enjoy these genial cozies.  Ada Madison is the pseudonym of author Camille Minichino, who is a retired physicist.   Under her own name she has written eight novels in the “Periodic Table” mysteries, featuring retired physicist Gloria Lamerino.   As Margaret Grace, she’s published six novels in the “Miniature” Mysteries series.  A Function of Murder, the third book featuring Sophie Knowles is due to be published by Berkley in December, 2012.

–posted 11/17/2012

Posted November/17/2012

Cat mystery series

It’s hard to keep track of this burgeoning sub-genre.  Especially when authors seem determined to confuse us.   Susan Conant , top dog of the dog mystery set,  has written a cat mystery:  Scratch the Surface (2005).  And Rita Mae Brown, queen of the cat mysteries, has written two dog mysteries:  A Nose for Justice (2010) and Murder Unleashed (2011).

As you might expect, the paranormal is sneaking into cat mysteries—see below Sophie Kelly’s super cats Owen and Hercules.  Though there are many individual books that feature interesting cats (such as Andre Norton’s Derelict for Trade about a spaceship inhabited only by two cats and Christina Skye’s romances set at Draycott Abbey haunted by a ghost cat named Gideon), we’ll save those for another day.  This list is limited to mystery series.

Please note:  it is a fine line, to be sure, between cat mysteries–in which the cats narrate or play a major role–and mysteries in which the main character owns a cat or two.  Krista Davis’ “Domestic Diva Mysteries” stars Sophie Winston who has a cat named Mochie  and Tim Myers’ “Slow Cooker Mysteries” star Sarah Jacobs who has a cat named Cleo, but they are not cat mysteries—at least not in my book.

So I present, with some trepidation, my list.  If you spot any cat mystery series that I’ve missed, please email me at

1.  Adamson, Lydia (pseud. of Frank King)

Alice Nestleton is a not-too-successful New York actress who cat-sits for extra cash and love of the animals.  Alice’s cat-sitting often involves her in someone’s murder, and she has become a redoubtable amateur detective, sometimes aided by boyfriend Tony Basilio and down-at-the-heels mystery writer Sam Tully

1.  A Cat in the Manger (1990)

2.  A Cat of a Different Color (1990)

3.  A Cat in Wolf’s Clothing  (1991)

4.  A Cat by Any Other Name  (1992)

5.  A Cat in the Wings (1992)

6.  A Cat with a Fiddle  (1993)

7. A Cat in a Glass House  (1993)

8.  A Cat with No Regrets  (1994)

9.  A Cat on the Cutting Edge  (1994)

10.  A Cat on a Winning Streak  (1995)

11.  A Cat in Fine Style  (1995)

12.  A Cat in a Chorus Line  (1996)

13.  A Cat under the Mistletoe  (1996)

14.  A Cat on a Beach Blanket  (1997)

15.  A  Cat on Jingle Bell Rock  (1997)

16.  A Cat on Stage Left  (1998)

17.  A Cat of One’s Own  (1999)

18.  A Cat with the Blues  (2000)

19.  A Cat with No Clue  (2001)

20.  A Cat Named Brat  (2002)

21.  A Cat on the Bus  (2002)

2.  Allen, Garrison

Allen’s cat is named Mycroft (after Sherlock Holmes’s brother), aka “Big Mike”, who works with his “owner,” Penelope Warren, to solve crimes in the town of Empty Creek, Arizona.  Big Mike is a 25-pound Abyssinian with a Morris-the-Cat attitude.  Penelope is a beautiful, smart, former U.S. Marine turned mystery-bookstore owner.  Empty Creek is a town full of zany, libidinous characters.

1.  Desert Cat (1994)

2.  Royal Cat (1995)

3.  Stable Cat (1996)

4.  Baseball Cat (1997)

5.  Dinosaur Cat (1998)

6.  Movie Cat (1999)

3.  Babson, Marian  (pseud. of Ruth Stenstreem)

Marian Babson is so well-known for her cozy cat mysteries that it is surprising to realize that few of them are actually series novels.  Her first book Cover-up Story starred Doug Perkins and Gerry Tate, partners in a British public relations firm, and Pandora, Doug’s cat. Three further novels starred Perkins, Tate and Pandora.   After that, Babson mostly wrote stand-alone mysteries featuring cats.  One exception is the 6 volume series starring Trixie Dolan and Evangeline Sinclair, aging actresses and bumbling amateur detectives.  Aside from these, a reader can pick up almost any Babson with assurance: it is sure to contain a genteel crime, a mildly puzzling mystery and a cat (nine times out of ten).  The Perkins and Tate books are:

1.  Cover-up Story.   (1989)

2.  Murder at the Cat Show (1989)

3.  Tourists Are for Trapping (1989)

4.  In the Teeth of Adversity (1990)

The Trixie and Evangeline books are:

1. Reel Murder (1987)

2. Encore Murder (1990)

3. Shadows in Their Blood (1993)

4. Even Yuppies Die (1993)

5. Break a Leg, Darlings (1997)

6.The  Cat Who Wasn’t a Dog  (2003)

7. No Cooperation from the Cat (2012)

4.  Baxter, Cynthia

Baxter’s “Reigning Cats and Dogs” mystery series stars Long Island veterinarian Jessica Popper and her sometime boyfriend, Private Eye I Nick Burby.  Jessica has two dogs: Max, the tailless Westie, and Lou, the one-eyed Dalmation.   Not strictly cat mysteries, this series will appeal to dog and horse lovers as well.

1.  Dead Canaries Don’t Sing (2004)

2.  Putting on the Dog (2004)

3.  Lead a Horse to Murder (2005)

4.  Hare Today, Dead Tomorrow (2006)

5.  Right from the Gecko (2007)

6.  Who’s Kitten Who? (2007)

5.  Braun, Lillian Jackson

Braun published three “Cat Who…” novels in the 1960s, then spent eighteen years pursuing  a career as editor and writer with the Detroit Free Press.  Since her return to mystery writing  in 1986, she has averaged more than one book a year until her death in 2011.  Series protagonist  Jim Qwilleran (“Quill”) is a journalist with a specialty in crime reporting.  His psychic Siamese cat Koko and Yum-Yum, a second Siamese who arrives later in the series, help Quill solve mysteries.

1.  The Cat Who Could Read Backwards  (1966)

2.  The Cat Who Ate Danish Modern (1967)

3.  The Cat Who Turned On and Off  (1968)

4.  The Cat Who Saw Red (1986)

5.  The Cat Who Played Brahms  (1987)

6.  The Cat Who Played Post Office (1987)

7.  The Cat Who Knew Shakespeare  (1988)

8.  The Cat Who Sniffed Glue  (1988)

9.  The Cat Who Went Underground (1989)

10.  The Cat Who Talked to Ghosts  (1990)

11.  The Cat Who Lived High  (1990)

12.  The Cat Who Knew a Cardinal  (1991)

13.  The Cat Who Moved a Mountain (1992)

14.  The Cat Who Wasn’t There  (1992)

15.  The Cat Who Went Into the Closet  (1993)

16.  The Cat Who Came to Breakfast  (1994)

17.  The Cat Who Blew the Whistle (1995)

18.  The Cat Who Said Cheese (1996)

19.  The Cat Who Tailed a Thief  (1997)

20.  The Cat Who Sang for the Birds (1998)

21.  The Cat Who Saw Stars  (1999)

22.  The Cat Who Robbed a Bank  (2000)

23.  The Cat Who Smelled a Rat  (2001)

24.  The Cat Who Went up the Creek  (2001)

25.  The Cat Who Brought Down the House  ( 2003)

26.  The Cat Who Talked Turkey  (2004)

27.  The Cat Who Went Bananas  (2005)

28.  The Cat Who Dropped a Bombshell  (2006)

29.  The Cat Who Had 60 Whiskers (2007)

6.  Brandon, Ali

Ali Brandon’s “Black Cat Bookshop” series is perhaps the newest entry into the cat mystery scene.  Darla Pettistone, a freckled 35-year old Texan, inherits her great-aunt Dee’s Pettistone’s Fine Book store in Brooklyn.  With it comes Hamlet, an ill-humored black cat the “size of a cocker spaniel”.  Darla is dubious about the cat, and Hamlet is determined to be unfriendly.  But gradually they accept each other and work together to solve crimes.  Hamlet communicates by knocking down books with significant titles. In the first book, Darla is hosting a book-signing by a popular young adult novelist.  In the second, she and Hamlet investigate the death of a neighbor.   Brandon also writes her Leonardo da Vinci mysteries  under her own name, Diane A.S. Stuckart.

1.  Double Booked for Death (2011)

2.  A Novel Way To Die  (2012)

7.  Brown, Rita Mae

Rita Mae Brown and her tiger cat Sneaky Pie are the co-authors of this series.   It stars Mrs. Murphy, a gray tiger cat who helps her “human” Mary Minor Harristeen solve mysteries. “Harry” is the postmistress of the little town of Crozet, Virginia.  The series features other animals– fat cat Pewter Shiflett and Tee Tucker, the Corgi—who comment sardonically on the crazy behavior of humans.

1.  Wish You Were Here (1990)

2.  Rest in Pieces (1992)

3.  Murder at Monticello (1994)

4.  Pay Dirt (1995)

5.  Murder, She Meowed  (1996)

6.  Murder on the Prowl  (1998)

7.  Cat on the Scent  (1999)

8.  Pawing Through the Past (2000)

9.  Claws and Effects (2001)

10.  Catch as Cat Can (2002)

11.  The Tail of the Tip-Off   (2003)

12.  Whisker of Evil (2004)

13.  Cat’s Eyewitness (2005)

14.  Sour Puss (2006)

15.  Puss ‘n Cahoots (2007)

16.  The Purrfect Murder (2008)

17.  Santa Clawed  (2008)

18.  Cat of the Century  (2010)

19.  Hiss of Death  (2011)

20.  The Big Cat Nap (2012)

21.  Sneaky Pie for President  (2012)

22. The Litter of the Law (2013)

8.  Clement, Blaize

Clement’s amiable heroine is Dixie Hemingway of Sarasota Florida.  She has taken a leave of absence from her sheriff’s deputy job and becomes a pet-sitter to make ends meet.  Dixie lives next door to her protective older brother Michael who is a fireman and an excellent cook.  Romantic interest is provided by Lieutenant Guidry from Sarasota’s homicide division and local lawyer Ethan Crane.  Author Blaize Clement died in 2011.  Her son John has contracted to write more books in the series.  Like Baxter’s books, these are not exclusively about cats—some dogs, rabbits and iguanas turn up.

1. Curiosity Killed the Cat Sitter (2006)

2. Duplicity Dogged the Dachshund (2007)

3. Even Cat Sitters Get the Blues (2008)

4. Cat Sitter on a Hot Tin Roof (2009)

5. Raining Cat Sitters and Dogs (2010)

6. Cat Sitter Among the Pigeons  (2011)

7. The Cat Sitter’s Pajamas (2012)

9.  Douglas, Carole Nelson

The versatile Douglas is the author of two other series, but she is best-known for her Midnight Louie series.   Louie, self-described “coolest cat” in Las Vegas, relates the mysteries that he and his  “doting roommate”  Temple Barr solve.   Temple is a free-lance public relations specialist,a  liberated woman who has off-and-on affairs with magician Max Kinsella and a former priest turned radio pop-psychologist.   Louie starts off as an unregenerate macho tomcat, but eventually submits to a vasectomy in order to improve his image as a spokesperson for a family oriented cat food company.

1. Catnap (Tor, 1992)

2. Pussyfoot (Tor, 1993)

3. Cat on a Blue Monday (Forge, 1994)

4. Cat in a Crimson Haze (Forge, 1995)

5. Cat in a Diamond Dazzle (Forge, 1996)

6. Cat with an Emerald Eye (Forge, 1996)

7. Cat in a Flamingo Fedora (Forge, 1997)

8. Cat in a Golden Garland (Forge, 1997)

9. Cat on a Hyacinth Hunt (Forge, 1998)

10. Cat in an Indigo Mood (Forge, 1999)

11. Cat in a Jeweled Jumpsuit (Forge, 1999)

12. Cat in a Kiwi Con (Forge, 2000)

13. Cat in a Leopard Spot (Forge, 2001)

14. Cat in a Midnight Choir (Forge, 2002)

15. Cat in a Neon Nightmare (Forge, 2003)

16. Cat in an Orange Twist (Forge, 2004)

17. Cat in a Hot Pink Pursuit (Forge, 2005)

18. Cat in a Quicksilver Caper (Forge, 2006)

19. Cat in a Red Hot Rage (Forge, 2007)

20. Cat in a Sapphire Slipper (Forge, 2008)

21. Cat in a Topaz Tango (Forge, 2009)

22. Cat in an Ultramarine Scheme (Forge, 2010)

23. Cat in a Vegas Gold Vendetta (Forge, 2011)

24. Cat in a White Tie and Tails (Forge, 2012)

10.  Hill, Suzette A.

This British series may interest readers.   Reverend Francis Oughterard is canon of St. Botolph’s church in Molehill, Surrey in the 1950s.  His cat Maurice, and his dog Bouncer share the narrating duties in a series of droll mysteries.  All the characters speak like Jeeves the butler (see P. G. Woodhouse).  The dry humor and leisurely narrative will delight Anglophiles.  Francis, who wants an easy life and a bit of peace and quiet, finds nothing but trouble, as he gets involved in a murder and its coverup and has to deal with predatory ladies, officious policemen, eccentric clerics, nasty parishioners, and conman Nicholas Ingaza, a disgraced seminarian turned shady art dealer. Maurice and Bouncer do their best to help Francis. Their sardonic comments add to the humor–they refer to Ingaza as the “Brighton Type”. Suzette Hill taught English literature for many years at Reading College (U.K.) before retiring.

1.  A Load of Old Bones  (2007)

2.  Bones in the Belfry (2008)

3.  Bone Idle (2009)

4.  Bones in High Places (2010)

5.  A Bedlam of Bones(2011)

11.  James, Miranda  (pseud. of Dean James)

James’ “Cat in the Stacks” series features recently widowed librarian Charlie Harris and his Maine Coon Cat, Diesel, whom he walks on a leash.  Charlie and Diesel  have returned  to Charlie’s hometown of Athena, Mississippi, where Charlie gets a job in the Archive Department of the college library.  They live and take college students as boarders  in a big house that Charlie’s aunt has left him.

1.  Murder Past Due (2010)

2.  Classified As Murder (2011)

3.  File M for Murder (2012)

13.  Kelly, Sofie   (pseud. of Darlene Ryan)

12.  Kelly, Sofie   (pseud. of Darlene Ryan)

Kathleen Paulson leaves Boston to become a librarian in Mayville, Minnesota, where she is adopted by two very special cats:  Owen can become invisible and Hercules can walk through walls.   These useful talents serve Kathleen well when she takes up amateur sleuthing.  Not all readers will accept the paranormal in their cat mysteries.  But for those who do, Kelly’s books are diverting.

1.  Curiosity Thrilled the Cat (2011)

2.  Sleight of Paw (Signet, 2011)

3.  Copycat Killing (Signet, 2012)

13.  Marshall, Evan

The “Jane Stuart and Winky” mystery novels feature literary agent Jane Stuart of Shady Hills, New Jersey and her cat Winky.  Jane, sometimes accompanied by Winky, does most of the sleuthing in this cozy series.   Evan Marshall, founder and president of the Evan Marshall Agency, a literary agency that represents fiction writers, is the author of several non-fiction books on the writing and publishing of novels.

1.  Missing Marlene (1999)

2.  Hanging Hannah (2000)

3.  Stabbing Stephanie (2001)

4.  Icing Ivy (2002)

5.  Toasting Tina (2003)

6.  Crushing Crystal (2004)

14.  Morris, Gilbert

”Jacques & Cleo, Cat Detectives” stars a half-wild Savannah cat named Jacques and a long-haired Ragdoll cat named Cleo.  They have moved with their “persons” to a large house in the town of White Sands on Alabama’s Gulf Coast.   The house has been inherited by Kate Forrest, a young widow, and her 12-year-old son Jeremy on the condition that they share the house with Jake Novak, an ex-soldier, ex-policeman and aspiring writer.  Morris has written numerous Christian historical series and his cat mysteries bear a definite religious imprint.

1.  What the Cat Dragged In  (2007)

2.  The Cat’s Pajamas  (2007)

3.  When the Cat’s Away (2007)

15.  Murphy, Shirley Rousseau

Joe Grey is the feline hero of this mystery series.   Joe is a large gray cat who can understand, speak, and read human language and can feel human emotions such as guilt and sympathy.  With the aid of Joe’s human companion, auto mechanic Clyde Damen, and cats named Dulcy and Kit, he investigates homicides and other crimes in the seaside town of Molena Point, California. In addition to the titles listed below, Rousseau has written The Catsworld Portal (1993), which is is a stand-alone fantasy novel featuring intelligent cats.

1.  Cat on the Edge (1996)

2.  Cat Under Fire (1997)

3.  Cat Raise the Dead (1998)

4.  Cat in the Dark (1999)

5.  Cat to the Dogs (2000)

6.  Cat Spitting Mad (2001)

7.  Cat Laughing Last (2002)

8.  Cat Seeing Double ( 2003)

9.  Cat Fear No Evil (2004)

10.  Cat Cross Their Graves (2005)

11.  Cat Breaking Free (2005)

12.  Cat Pay the Devil (2007)

13.  Cat Decks the Hall  (2007)

14.  Cat Playing Cupid (2009)

15.  Cat Striking Back (2009)

16.  Cat Coming Home (2010)

17.  Cat Telling Tales (2011)

18.  Cat Bearing Gifts (2012)

16.  Simon, Clea

Simon has written three series involving cats which may be of interest.  Protagonist of the first series is Theda Krakow, a freelance music journalist who gets involved in a series of mysteries involving music and/or cats.  Cat-lover Theda does have a boyfriend, retired policeman Bill, but her relationship with her beloved cat Musetta seems to be more satisfying.

1.  Mew Is for Murder (2005)

2.  Cattery Row (2006)

3.  Cries and Whiskers (2007)

4.  Probable Claws (2009)

Simon’s second cat mystery series features Dulcie Schwartz, Harvard graduate student, and the ghost of her late cat, Mr. Grey, who turns up when needed if Dulcie is in trouble or in danger.

1.  Shades of Grey (2009)

2.  Grey Matters (2010)

3.  Grey Zone (2011)

4.  Grey Expectations (2012)

Books about animal psychic Pru Marlowe investigates cases in which pets are suspected of killing their owners.   Pru’s crotchety but trusty tabby Wallis helps her.

1.  Dogs Don’t Lie (2011)

2.  Cats Can’t Shoot (2012)

17.  Stewart, Fran

Biscuit McKee, a widow with three grown children, takes on the job of organizing a library in the Victorian mansion full of books that has been donated to the small town Martinsville, Georgia.   Fortunately Marmalade, an orange and white cat, turns up to assume the important job of mouse patrol.   Things go smoothly until a dead body is found in the library.  Marmalade finds it first, as she tells us in the first chapter.  Biscuit continues the narrative when she opens the library and finds an untidy body hanging sideways over the staircase with a knife stuck in his stomach and ”his left arm pointing off toward Biographies.”  The second book in the series won Ms Stewart the “Georgia Author of the Year” for Independent fiction.

1.  Orange as Marmalade (2003)

2.  Yellow as Legal Pads (2004)

3.  Green as a Garden Hose (2005)

4.  Blue as Blue Jeans (2007)

5.  Indigo as an Iris (2008)

6.  Violet as an Amethyst (2011)

18.  Sweeney, Leann

Sweeney’s  “Cats in Trouble” series stars Jillian Hart, owner of  a cat-quilting business in a small town in South Carolina.  Her three cats are Syrah, Chablis, and Merlot.  In  Jillian’s first case, she is investigating a cat-napping.  So far there are four titles in the series, with another coming in May 2013.

1.  The Cat, the Quilt and the Corpse (2009)

2.  The Cat, the Professor and the Poison  (2010)

3.  The Cat, the Lady and the Liar  (2011

4.  The Cat, the Wife and the Weapon  (2012)

–posted by Janet Husband, 11/6/2012

Posted November/6/2012

New cat mystery series

Ali Brandon’s “Black Cat Bookshop” series is perhaps the newest entry into the cat mystery scene.   A Novel Way To Die (Berkley, Nov. 6, 2012) is her second book.  Darla Pettistone, a freckled 35-year old Texan, inherits her great-aunt Dee’s Pettistone’s Fine Book store in Brooklyn.  With it comes Hamlet, an ill-humored black cat the “size of a cocker spaniel”.  Darla is dubious about the cat, and Hamlet is determined to be unfriendly.  But gradually they accept each other and work together to solve crimes.  Hamlet communicates by knocking down books with significant titles. In the first book,  Darla is hosting a book-signing by  a popular young adult novelist.  In A Novel Way To Die, she and Hamlet investigate the death of a neighbor.   Brandon also writes her Leonardo da Vinci mysteries under her own name, Diane A.S. Stuckart.

–posted 11/6/2012

Note:  A complete list of cat mystery series has just been added to the Special Lists section of this blog.

Posted November/6/2012

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