Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Cat in the Stacks Mystery Series (books 1-5) by Miranda James

I convinced my husband to take me and our daughter to the book store a week or so ago just so I could peruse the goodies on the shelves. Well, I ended up buying the first 5 books in this mystery series. I am such a sucker for mysteries! Especially when they have all the books in that series ready for you to buy..Bless my husband's heart..he stood no chance.

The books:
1. Murder Past Due
2. Classified as Murder
3. File M for Murder
4. Out of Circulation
5. The Silence of the Library

As you can see the series is set in libraries and revolves around library type stuff. Miranda James is an alias for Dean James. He also writes under a couple other names. I LOVE this series because it's set in Mississippi, which is where I'm from. Honestly, it made me very homesick.

Overview
Charlie Harris is a 50ish year old man, widower, with 2 adult children. He also is works at the college library in Athena, MS. He volunteers at the public library once a week also. What makes Charlie interesting and the talk of the town is his companion, Diesel. Diesel is a Maine Coon cat, who is large even for the breed. Charlie and Diesel go everywhere together.
In Murder Past Due, Charlie is working hard when his old high school classmate, Godfrey Priest, arrives. Priest is an unbearable man who is famous for writing thrillers. Events unfold quickly once Priest arrives- he lands a man in the hospital, and then he's found dead- by Charlie. Justin, a boarder in Charlie's house, is the biological son of Priest. They both just found out and were getting acquainted. The story continues with Charlie helping out Deputy Berry solving the murder. Who killed Priest and why? Can Charlie clear Justin's name? Yes he does. Read Murder Past Due to find out who kills Priest! 

In Classified as Murder, Charlie is asked by the town's eccentric resident, James Delacorte, to do inventory for him of his rare books collection. He has feelings that someone is stealing his books, and the thief is related to him. On the first day of inventory, Charlie leaves for lunch only to return to find Mr. Delacorte dead in the library. Charlie once again is thrown into the investigation to help find out who killed Mr. Delacorte and why. Charlie tries not to step on Deputy Berry's toes and tries to stay out of trouble poking his nose around. After receiving threats, Charlie can't stop. He must find out who killed this man. Can Charlie put all the facts together? Read Classified as Murder to find out!

File M for Murder revolves around the arrival of noted playwright, Connor Lawton. He's in town helping Athena College perform a new drama. We also meet Charlie's daughter, Laura, and learn of her previous relationship with Connor. After Connor calls Laura and asks her to come over to his hotel room, Laura finds Connor dead. She immediately calls Charlie and asks him to come help her and what to do. Deputy Berry arrives sometime later full of questions for both Charlie and Laura. Can Charlie make Berry see that Laura would never murder anyone? Charlie has to find who killed Connor before Deputy Berry arrests Laura for a murder she did not commit. Charlie poles his nose around and soon finds out who did it and the twist on why! This was probably the most twisty book in the series. I enjoyed this one because it had drama with it- stalkers, loud clothing, drama actors. Read File M for Murder, you will love it!

Out of Circulation finds Charlie as a member of one of the town boards- along with some very high rolling ladies. The Ducote sisters are one of the wealthiest and charitable ladies in town. Along with Vera Cassity they like to throw big todo's in town to raise money for various organizations. Charlie finds himself disliking Vera and throwing his vote in with the Ducote sisters. But was that the right thing to do? Especially after they tell him, Vera will get what's coming to her soon. At the party of the year, Vera is found dead and Charlie's maid, Deputy Berry's mother, Azalea, is in the midst of it- or so it seems. Can Charlie help Berry clear Azalea's name? and find out who the true murderer is? This book is full of twists and turns! I LOVE this one too!

The Silence of the Library is about National Library Week and the week of events that will be happening in honor of it. Charlie is working on a display about mystery series. One of the series authors, Electra Barnes Cartwright, is rumored to have settled close to Athena. He and Teresa (library director) go and visit Mrs. Cartwright to invite her to talk during the week. She gladly accepts! Teresa is called the next day by Cartwright's daughter to discuss the fee- something the Teresa is shocked about since money wasn't discussed at the meeting. Now Teresa fears that the author won't appear because paying her isn't in the library budget. Soon, collectors start to arrive and try to bully their way into having Mrs. Cartwright sign all their copies of her mystery books. They are willing to pay crazy amounts for her to do this. When the president of the ECB's fan club is found murdered Charlie puts on his detective hat once again to help solve the murder and find out if Mrs. Cartwright is truly alive at 100 yrs old or if something more sinister happened to her.

My feelings
I absolutely loved this series! I read it in 5 days- yes, one book a day. I was uncertain about having a man as the lead character in a mystery series but I really love Charlie and his cat Diesel. I'm so used to having strong female leads in the mysteries I read, that it was refreshing to have Charlie and his sweet cat be the spotlight. I loved this book even more because it's set in my home state of Mississippi. It made me so very homesick that I was calling my mom regularly (which I do anyways but more so). I even researched Miranda James to find out more about her only to find out she's a he! It made more sense that Dean James would have a male lead in a detective series such as this once you discover the name Miranda James is his pseudonym. It works though! I especially love Diesel! I would love love love to see a Maine Coon in person. They sound like such amazing and beautiful animals, smart too.
One of my favorite characters, besides Charlie and Diesel, was Deputy Kanesha Berry. She was the first African American woman Deputy in the small town of Athena and she is FIERCE! Her character is strong, smart, and badass. She's intimidating but she knows good help when she finds it. She doesn't trust many but when she does she relies on them. I thought her character was needed in the story. She was the yang to Charlie's ying since he's so nice and welcoming.

I HIGHLY recommend this series! I cannot wait to read the next books in the series.

5 out of 5 stars for all 5 books!!