Murder Past Due is the first book in the Cat in the Stacks cozy mystery series by Miranda James. The Cat in the Stacks series features librarian Charlie Harris and his cat, Diesel, as the amateur sleuth in the small college town of Athena.
As the first book in the series, Murder Past Due is really setting up the main characters and the setting as well as providing a murder mystery. Murder Past Due is well paced and interesting with a murder that has almost every resident in town as a viable suspect. James does an excellent job of painting a vivid picture of a small college town and the people who populate it while keeping the plot moving fluidly. As always, one of my main criteria for any mystery is that the author doesn’t make it too obvious who the killer is before the big reveal and James did a good job with that by providing some fairly obvious and some less obvious potential suspects for Charlie to investigate.
One of my more recent pet peeves with cozy mysteries, as regular readers of this blog will know, is that so many authors are now portraying the police as stupid or bumbling. James does not fall into this trap - in fact, Charlie is chastened to realize he may have caused a good bit of harm to the police investigation while he was trying to assist. He is smart enough and aware enough to realize that the police have to follow procedures and investigate every clue and possibility or a murderer could go free and that is quite refreshing after some of the portrayals I’ve seen in 2013.
While Charlie is a librarian and that does play into the murder mystery, there is far less time spent in the library or on library business in Murder Past Due than in the Library Lovers series by Jenn McKinlay that I’ve recently read. That’s not a bad thing - it is just different.
Overall, I very much enjoyed Murder Past Due and recommend it to any cozy mystery fan. I already have the second book ready to read on my next day off!
There's a cat in the stacks…
...and he makes the purr-fect partner for a librarian-turned-sleuth.
Everyone in Athena, Mississippi, knows librarian Charlie Harris-and his Maine coon cat named Diesel that he walks on a leash. They also know his former classmate-turned-famous bestselling novelist, Godfrey Priest.
But someone in Athena took Godfrey off the bestseller lists- permanently, and with extreme prejudice. Now, Charlie and Diesel must browse through the history section of the town's past to find a killer.