By: Lisa Brunette
Cathedral (alias as Cat) McCormick is leaving her St. Louis home to apprentice for her new-age Granny Grace’s detective firm. Despite her mother’s jealousy and the continual yoga exercises dictated by the vivacious and yet dreamy Granny Grace, Cat is certain that this new path is the one she must literally follow to her dreams. Like Granny Grace, Cat has been born with the gift (or the curse) of entering into the dreams of nearby sleepers, an excellent way to unravel the mysteries of the heart and also to destroy close attachments; Cat must learn how to implement and handle her talent, but when her dream on a plane leads her straight into a megachurch cult and a murder investigation, Cat’s lurid dreams just may be her demise. What lurks in the secrets of religion, denial, love, lust, and misplaced faith? Will Cat’s dreamslipping enable her to save lives, and if so, how will her own shaky romance fare when she starts dreamslipping into her lover’s terrors?
A mix between the nail biting hardboiled mystery realm and the character-driven cozy mystery take, Cat in the Flock is a unique and ambitious read that draws on the evil of humanity and its predilection for goodness, giving us a tale that falls in the grey and ends with a gut-punch. Readers will be laughing and crying, tense and excited, and above all invested as Cat tries to do the right thing in an atmosphere where family obligations, budding romance, truth, friendship, and love pull her into multiple different directions. At the same time, Cat addresses her own spiritual needs, making herself a unique character from Granny Grace who is open to the wisdom of others yet certainly her own free thinking and often zany person. You’ll want Cat as your friend and go-to private investigator.
The mystery itself focuses on the kidnapping of the famous (or infamous) charismatic church leader Jim Plantation’s wife and daughter. Plantation, after the suicide of his friend, has been acting strange and numerous dreams plus a confrontation with the terrified wife leads Cat to believe that there is a wolf in sheep’s clothing within this strict, often strange, yet oddly compelling church. It should be noted that Cat in the Flock points out the hypocrisy in humanity and does not attack religion (of any kind.) Indeed, Cat makes strong bonds at the church and notices that many are good people, making friends and attachments along the way, creating an open minded book that focuses on real life dilemmas without ever insulting anyone’s faith. As a devout Christian myself (Episcopalian, if you’re curious) I found this a refreshing stance and enjoyed every moment as author Lisa Brunette wove an immersive and rich atmosphere that was never afraid to push boundaries yet always remained respectful and insightful.
The first novel in the McCormick Files, Cat in the Flock is sexy, fast-paced, thoroughly focused on in-depth sleuthing and investigation, and ultimately heart-rending. That being said, there are plenty of sweet moments where Cat drives Siddhartha , Granny Grace’s old Mercedes, and teasing moments between Cat and her potential boyfriend. Readers bond with each character and situation while maintaining the fear for the missing wife and daughter and what Jim Plantation might be doing to them.
The writing is tight and descriptive, the dialogue effortless and realistic, the situation poignant and eerily possible. The murder is invariably revealed as the serpentine plot makes a shift and readers will only pause momentarily in the end chapters, wishing some additional questions of method (and confrontation) in regards to the dire event were further explained and plumbed. Nevertheless, the rapid heartbeat of the mystery and the unexpected tragic conclusion drive momentum and reader attachment. Already hooked, this reader intends further sojourns in Cat’s dreamslipping world. Highly recommended.
- Frances Carden