Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Laurie Cass - Lending a Paw

Eddie followed Minnie home one day, and now she can’t seem to shake the furry little shadow. But despite her efforts to contain her new pal, the tabby sneaks out and trails her all the way to the bookmobile on its maiden voyage. Before she knows it, her slinky stowaway becomes her cat co-pilot!
Minnie and Eddie’s first day visiting readers around the county seems to pass without trouble—until Eddie darts outside at the last stop and leads her to the body of a local man who’s reached his final chapter.
Initially, Minnie is ready to let the police handle this case, but Eddie seems to smell a rat. Together, they’ll work to find the killer—because a good librarian always knows when justice is overdue.

Comment: I was given this book for Christmas. I had never heard of the author but I'm game to try new authors and cozy mysteries, although not a genre I tend to look for on purpose, aren't what I would call unreadable, so.... Besides, it would mix a librarian and a cat, I mean..two things I like, books and cats!

In this book we meet librarian Minerva "Minnie" Hamilton and she is eager to start her new duty of driving the bookmobile the library recently acquired so people out of the city's sphere can have a chance to read even though her boss wasn't too keen on the idea. However, she gets her way and is happy to start, even though Eddie, the cat who followed her home one day, somehow gets into the van and becomes the main attraction for some people, namely the children. While Minnie debates on the wisdom of taking the cat on her route as well, suddenly Eddie escapes and leads her to a body, who happens to be the rich man who used to donate a lot of money to the library too. Since the police doesn't seem to take the investigation too seriously, it will be up to Minnie to do her part....

This was certainly a cozy read. It doesn't have big conflicts nor complex plot lines and even the crime solving is done in a pretty basic way. I would say it did feel a little too slow at times but of course this is intentional and the solving of the mystery went in a very predictable and easy path. I wouldn't say this is bad, it's expected and somewhat comforting to know there aren't big surprises or things coming out of nowhere.

However, I did expect a lot more from the other aspect of this book, in particular the "cozy" elements. The plot isn't complicated and even the more domestic or personal details regarding the characters are quick to decipher, there aren't big secrets nor exaggerated situations to uncover. Apart from the mystery aspects, everything else is easy to follow. Still, I wish the author had tried to infuse her story with some more complexity in this area because at some point it felt things were a bit too repetitive and lacking depth.

We are given a good notion about who Minnie is, how her personality is... she is a likable character and her dedication to her work, her professionalism in doing the best job she can even when some things might see hard to overcome (namely rules, lack of funding...) were elements I appreciated a lot in her. I confess I expected a bit more book talk, since she is a librarian, but there is mention of several titles, that helped me seeing her with such a job. 

Minnie is also a modern woman, she sees the future in new things and new approaches, thus the bookmobile for instance.She is also a family girl, in the sense she often visits an aunt, talks to her mother on the phone, this helps us to have the idea she is approachable and a good girl.... but apart from these things and the fact she doesn't let others step o her toes, she still remained pretty aloof to me. I still can't describe her properly because I didn't feel these things were conveyed in such a way, I would feel she is a special heroine. I kind of wanted more of her thoughts but something unique about her too.

The secondary characters are all a bit one dimensional. They play a role and that's it, I didn't feel, not even among many scenes and some hints, that these people were so special either, withing the community or among one another. It's as if the author wanted to leave things up to our imagination or basic so maybe there will be room for new things in future installments, but overall, I got the sense there wasn't enough substance to make this a strong book.

I think I liked it more than what seems from my words because I could envision the quiet lifestyle, the easy way of life we are told these people lived by and I could see myself having a similar job to Minnie and enjoy it but putting ll the pieces together, I don't think this was the best book it could be. The presence of the cat helped but he too seemed more a quirky factor than a natural element.

All things considered, this had good elements but they could have been developed a lot better, the execution might have been more complex, I don't think this would weaken the cozy aspects in any way. I'm debating whether I want to read the next one or not...
Grade: 7/10

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