As if I’m not already a pushover for cozy mysteries, all you really need to do is include a cat as one of the characters, and I’m in. Nine Lives and Alibis is the 7th book in the Cat Café series, but don’t worry if you haven’t read the previous 6. Author Cate Conte does a fine job of weaving in enough description of the settings and characters to bring you up to speed as the story unfolds.
Halloween is approaching, and Daybreak Harbor has decided to give nearby Salem Massachusetts some competition for the holiday. Our protagonist, Maddie James, is on the events planning committee. Luckily, the small town has a large, old inn with just the right character and ambiance to be the perfect location for events. Happily, the place is rumored to be haunted, too! Booking a famous medium and his equally well-known black cat to do readings at the inn should have Salem green with envy.
The storyline unfolds in such a way that readers have plenty of time to get to know the local personalities, and learn all about the circumstances at the inn that resulted in a death and a missing person 40 years ago. Those legends are the basis for the inn’s haunted reputation.
It’s nearly the halfway point of the book when murder strikes at the inn again. Because we’ve had time to really steep ourselves in the setting and personalities, the tragedy is much more meaningful than it would have been had it happened early on.
The solving of the murder is extremely satisfying, as the case pulls in all sorts of suspects and circumstances, as well as the inn’s unsolved cold cases.
My only nitpick is that the cats aren’t featured as much as I’d hoped they would be. Cats are referred to often, and Maddie’s cat, JJ, is with her in many scenes. But, he’s not given much to do other than utter the occasional squeak or fall asleep nearby. The other main cat spends most of the book missing. JJ does get his moment in the sun by helping solve the case, but overall, I just wanted more feline antics and involvement.
I’ll rate Nine Lives and Alibis four crunchy salmon-flavored kitty treats out of five.
My thanks to author Cate Conte, St. Martin’s Press, and NetGalley for allowing me to read an advance digital copy of this book. This review is my honest and unbiased opinion.