Saturday, December 18, 2021

Review: What the Cat Dragged In by Miranda James

by Miranda James
Release Date:August 31, 2021
2021 Berkley Books
Audiobook Edition; 304 Pages
ISBN: 978-0593199466
Kindle Edition: B08CTFV6VW
Audiobook: B09B8NJVXR
Genre: Fiction / Cozy Mystery
Source: Review copy from publisher

3.75 / 5 Stars

Charlie has always believed that his grandfather had sold his house to his longtime tenant, Martin Hale. So when Martin dies, Charlie is surprised to discover the house was not left to Martin but instead belongs to Charlie. As he and Diesel check out the house he remembers fondly from his childhood, he is pleasantly surprised that it is in better condition than expected. That is, until they find a literal skeleton in a closet.

As Charlie delves into his own family history, he encounters many people who might have been motivated to take a life. But Charlie and Diesel know that things are not always what they seem, and that secrets seemingly lost to time have a way of finding their way back to haunt the present.
My Thoughts
What the Cat Dragged In is the next entry in the Cat in the Stacks books, and while Diesel doesn't really feature as predominantly in this book as in previous ones, I really liked learning a lot more about Charlie's family, and both literally and figuratively, the skeletons in his family's closet.
Charlie has always been a likeable character, and while I was a bit annoyed with him in a couple of the previous instalments, I felt like he was more himself in this one, which means he was interested in what was happening in his newly inherited house, but didn't go about interfering in an investigation.  I liked how he used his personal contacts to discover information and as a librarian, was able to delve into some of the history himself and discover information that would be helpful.  As someone who teaches history and has to be dragged out of archives, I love this kind of thing so I may be a bit biased.  
I like the introduction of a new character in this one as well, Martin's grand-daughter, as well as all the old regulars.  I enjoy Charlie and Sean's relationship and can understand Sean's exasperation when his dad wants to investigate or stick his nose into things as he's just worried about him.  Charlie is a grandfather now as well, and I like how he regrets not learning more about his family history when he had the opportunity, a thing commonly heard as you think you have all the time in the world, then realize it is too late and all of that knowledge is gone with the person who died.  While some of it can get kind of preachy at times, I just overlooked it and enjoyed the story for what it was. Having read this series from the beginning, I am thrilled that Charlie is surrounded by family, his family appreciates him and wants to spend time with him, and am looking forward to when he finally gets married. 
The plot was quite interesting, and while it was not hard to figure out who was the guilty party, I enjoyed it because it was definitely far more interesting than the previous entries in this series, a series I was almost ready to give up on.  There were some discrepancies in the historical facts, but I'm not sure everyone caught them.  Having a background in history, I am used to looking for those discrepancies, so I just may be more sensitive to them than others.   However, when you really look at the story, Charlie doesn't really do a lot other than look at historical research, interview a couple of historians, and, naturally, happens to be at the right place at the right time when something does go down.  

What the Cat Dragged In was interesting, and I liked the secrets within the secrets investigation that went on.  I thought the relationships between the characters was nice and I am always happy to see Charlie surrounded by family, and naturally, Diesel is a particular favourite.  However, when you really delve into the book, Charlie doesn't really do a lot, except historical research, even if it was really interesting, and happen to be at places at the right time.  Overall, I definitely liked this book better than a couple of the previous ones so would recommend it and I look forward to continuing the series.