murder has nine livesKitty Stardom Turns Deadly

Author: Laura Levine

In a Rush to Flush, Jaine Austen is once again in need of money, but fortunately her star client, Toiletmasters, is debuting a new self-flushing model which needs some glitzy ad writing. Not only has Jaine hit porcelain and pay dirt, but she might have finally struck gold when her boss’s nephew, a golden haired, burly dude with baby blue eyes takes a fancy to her. It’s time to put away the Cocoa Pops t-shirt and dust off those old dating shoes for sure. But – is there really truth behind that old “if it looks too good to be true” adage?

Meanwhile, Jaine’s ferocious feline is making her own waves. Discovered for her eating prowess, Prozac now has a many-bracleted agent and a prominent screen spot in the new Skinny Kitty food commercial. Prozac’s talent: eating. However, this young diva to be will soon be in disaster when the disagreeable producer dies with an epithet on his lips after eating his own delightful cat food.

Once again designated as a potential cold blooded killer in a milieu of disagreeable suspects, Jaine is determined to serve justice . . . so that this whole being-accused-of-murder thing won’t rain on her impending vacation plans. Meanwhile, dreams of stardom abandoned, Prozac has lost interest in the simple joys of life. She’s too dispirited to even savage Jaine’s proffered angora sweaters.

Over in the Shopping Channel capital of Tampa Vistas, Jaine’s parents continue to prepare for her arrival and their family vacation only to be thwarted by Daddy’s rivalry with the ever cunning Lydia Pinkus as the two face off in an epic Scrabble competition. Daddy secretly hopes that it will lead to a starring position in Jeopardy! as well, and he won’t let the fickle Pinkus pull any more of her underhanded schemes.

Combining cozy with crazy, Murder Has Nine Lives is the much anticipated continuation of Jaine’s off-beat adventures. Famous author Laura Levine, writer for such memorable and laugh-out-loud sitcoms as the Bob Newhart Show and Laverne and Shirley (among others), returns to the world of rollicking mystery with her usual dose of self-depreciating humor. Jaine oscillates between hope and temptation (in a world with donuts and finger food, why hold back) as she steers her way among capricious suspects, teddy-bear obsessed dates, and her mom’s latest Shopping Channel treasures. Meanwhile, the incorrigible Lance is back at his most oblivious best, and Jaine is about ready for him to get his commupence when he intrudes on Prozac’s show biz opportunities.

Setting the stage for epic kitty disaster and sly double-talk, Jaine’s hopes of fame, fortune, and a good date start off with that hint of foreboding that gets readers ready to have their funny bones tickled. Like a stack of dominos, events pile upon events and before we know it, it’s all hectic homicide and forlorn felines. Combine the expected clue searching with laugh-out-loud interludes from the Tampa Vistas emails and a certifiably insane date, and you have the perfect mixture for murder and mischief that is sure to delight cozy mystery lovers everywhere.

Pacing investigation with the usual funny side-plots, this particular installment is one of the best. The details of Jaine’s personal life (namely Prozac and Jaine’s general bad luck with men) blend nicely with investigation and suspicion, crafting that perfect atmosphere and sense of character development that keeps cozy mysteries ever popular. If you’re not laughing out loud (and therefore embarrassing yourself in public places – like the train) then you’re a hopeless cause my friend with an irretrievable sense of humor. Jaine’s at her self-depreciating, ironical interpretation best here as she fights off friends, foes, and family to save her vacation, her dating life, and her darling kitty. Oh yeah, and not get thrown into jail.

Keeping the mystery first-rate, the conclusion makes us question everything we know with a nice little plot twist and a last minute escape. Only, with criminals behind bars can Jaine enjoy her beach time and finally finish that new Tolietmasters jingo while hiding from her latest, and most certainly not greatest, paramour. Highly addicting, this entire ride through the world of homespun wacky was too fast and readers will be panting for the next installment before the last, glorious page settles comfortably.

        Frances Carden

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Frances Carden
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