The Book: Meow If It’s Murder
Nora Charles doesn’t believe in fate, even if she is a crime reporter who shares a name with a character from The Thin Man. In fact, she’s moving back to Cruz, California, to have a quieter life. But after finding an online magazine eager for material, and a stray cat named Nick with a talent for detection, Nora’s not just reporting crimes again. She’s uncovering them…
Back in her hometown, Nora reconnects with old friends and makes some new ones, like Nick, the charming feline who seems determined to be her cat. But not everything about Cruz is friendly. Writing for a local online magazine, Nora investigates the curious death of socialite Lola Grainger. Though it was deemed an accident, Nora suspects foul play. And it seems that her cat does too.
Apparently, Nick used to belong to a P.I. who disappeared while investigating Lola Grainger’s death. The coincidence is spooky, but not as spooky as the clues Nick spells out for her with Scrabble letters—clues that lead her down an increasingly dangerous path. Whether fate put her on this case or not, solving it will take all of Nora’s wits, and maybe a few of Nick’s nine lives.
I turned back to the table and stopped at the sight of the cat, squatted in front of my laptop, his eyes glued to an article displayed on its screen. I frowned. I’d been certain I’d shut the computer off when I’d gone to answer the phone. I moved closer and peered over the cat’s shoulder. An article from a sister paper, the California Sun, rehashing the details of Lola’s unfortunate ‘accident’. I made a move to shut off the laptop when Nick’s paw lashed out, the tip of his nail grazing the bottom of the screen. I tried to press the power button again – and once more his paw tapped insistently at the monitor.
“What do you want me to see?” I squinted at the screen. At the very bottom of the article, no bigger than a footnote, was one line: ‘The deceased’s sister was unavailable for comment, other than to say her sister’s death was a ‘travesty that bears further investigation.’
I frowned. I hadn’t realized Lola Grainger had any relatives. That in itself was interesting, and compounded with the fact it appeared she also thought there was something off about Lola’s untimely demise…
I leaned over, switched off the laptop, and closed the cover, still wondering just how that article had popped up on a computer I’d have bet my last nickel had been shut off. I shook my head, determined not to obsess. Chantal would have called it Fate, and maybe it was.
Sometimes you just had to believe things just…happened. For a reason.
“Hm,” I said. “Two and two make four, right? Lola’s sister – whoever she is – thinks there’s something off about that ‘accident’ too. I bet my hunch is right. I smell foul play – meow if you agree.”
The cat meowed without hesitation. He sat up on his haunches and cocked his head at me.
“Okay, it’s settled then. Lola’s death might not have been accidental. It could have been…murder.”
The cat looked up at me, ears and whiskers back, and I could swear the corners of his mouth tipped up, just a tad, in a sort of half-smile.
I took that as a yes.
While Toni Lotempio does not commit – or solve – murders in real life, she has no trouble doing it on paper. Her lifelong love of mysteries began early on when she was introduced to her first Nancy Drew mystery at age 10 – The Secret in the Old Attic. She lists among her favorite mystery/suspense writers Erle Stanley Gardner, Mary Higgins Clark and James Patterson, as well as EJ Copperman, Steve Hockensmith, Victoria Laurie, Ali Brandon, Rita Mae Brown, Miranda James and Sofie Kelly to name only a few! Toni is also passionate about her love for animals, as demonstrated with her four cats: Trixie, Princess, Maxx and, of course, ROCCO, who not only provided the inspiration for the character of Nick the cat in the Nick and Nora mystery series, but who also writes his own blog and does charity work for Nathan Fillion’s charity, Kids Need to Read! Toni’s also devoted to miniseries like The Thorn Birds, Dancing with the Stars, reruns of Murder She Wrote and Castle (of course!). She (and ROCCO, albeit he’s uncredited) pen the Nick and Nora mystery series from Berkley Prime Crime – the first volume, MEOW IF ITS MURDER, debuts Dec. 2, 2014. She, Rocco and company make their home in Clifton, New Jersey, just twenty minutes from the Big Apple – New York.
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