Sleight of Paw by Sofie Kelly
Released: September 2011
Publisher: Penguin Books
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Synopsis: Small-town librarian Kathleen Paulson never wanted to be the crazy cat lady. But after Owen and Hercules followed her home, she realized her mind wasn’t playing tricks on her-her cats have magical abilities.When the body of elderly do-gooder Agatha Shepherd is found near Kath’s favorite local café, she knows Owen’s talent for turning invisible and Hercules’s ability to walk through walls will give the felines access to clues Kath couldn’t get without arousing suspicion. Someone is hiding some dark secrets-and it will take a bit of furtive investigating to catch the cold-hearted killer.
I don’t remember who put cozy mystery novels on my radar, but as far as I could tell, they revolved around cats and baked goods and dead people, and since those are a few of my favorite things (with the exception of dead people, of course), I knew I had to read at least one cozy mystery novel. So, when I went to the library two weekends ago, my goal was to check out one cozy mystery novel. Enter Sleight of Paw by Sofie Kelly. I devoured this book in two sittings, and by the end I was positively charmed and certain I had just discovered a new, favorite genre.
This is what I loved:
1. The setting: Mayville Heights. This small town in Minnesota is practically the Stars Hallow of the Midwest– at least, that’s what I imagined. Mayville Heights is the kind of town where it is probable that everyone knows everyone, a sense of community is valued, so there is always an art/food/music festival going on, and once a week (probably more) the main character and her pals meet at Luke’s Diner for amazing food and a cup of coffee. Oops! Did I say Luke’s Diner? I meant to say Eric’s Place.
2. The friendship between Kathleen Paulson and her two pals, Roma and Maggie. I accidentally started on book 2, so I missed out on Kathleen’s debut in the small town. But, it sounds like the trio solidified their friendship by playing Charlie’s Angels to reveal the killer in book one. But, the friendship in book two is satisfying nonetheless. As I read, I kept wishing that I had friends like Kathleen, Roma, and Maggie in my life. They meet up for brunch a few times a week, they volunteer to plan events in the community, and they exchange lines of witty banter.
3. The cats. Just because they are freaking cats, and I may or may not be on the verge of crazy cat lady-hood. But, Owen and Hercules are not your ordinary house cats. They came from the abandoned house that the community turned in to a feral cat sanctuary. And…they are magical! They can turn invisible and slink through closed doors, which definitely comes in handy during sleuthing.
4. The humor. This book made me literally laugh out loud, which is unheard of because I am usually a very stoic reader. (I didn’t even cry during Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince or Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows). But, how could I not chuckle at golden moments like this?
Kathleen is talking on the phone with her mom:
“I wasn’t hovering,” were the first words out of her mouth.
“I was lurking,” she continued.
“What’s the difference?”
“It’s all in how you hold your upper body.”
5. It’s “fluffy”, and that’s a good thing. There is nothing wrong with reading a light, feel-good novel. Dare I say it– sometimes, that’s what the mind needs, especially after an intense week at work. I felt so refreshed after reading Sofie Kelly’s Sleight of Paw.
Things that were just okay:
Instead of “Things I didn’t like” because there was nothing about this novel that I didn’t like.
1. The pacing. While I appreciate all of the exposition about the small town and positive friendships and cats (especially cats), I thought the middle was a little slow. The suspense finally started building in the last 100 pages, but I went into reading the novels expecting to be on the edge of my seat the entire time.
2. I picked out the killer before he was even a suspect. Common’ Kathleen! The motive was so clear! Why didn’t you try looking for the means sooner?
3. There wasn’t as much magical sleuthing as I expected. According to what I’ve read about the series so far, the cat’s abilities are utilized more in book one compared to book two (which just means I really have to track down book one!) Still, it was fun. BECAUSE CATS.
By the end of the novel, I felt giddy. Had I found my new favorite genre? I wanted to rush back to the library to check out more cozy mystery novels. Check out Sleight of Paw if you’re looking for a light-hearted mystery, or check it out if you’re a budding crazy cat lady.
I’ll be checking out another cozy mystery novel during my next library visit. Do you have any recommendations?