Sometimes you open up a book and from the first couple of words, you know that it’ll be a good read.  The Cat, The Quilt and The Corpse starts off with “My cat is allergic to people – yes, odd, I know – so when I came in the back door and heard Chablis sneeze, I stopped dead”.  It certainly piques your interest doesn’t it?

This is the first book in the Cats in Trouble series.   Jillian Hart had just moved to a small Carolina town when her husband suddenly dies, leaving her alone in a strange town.  She lives with her three cats Chablis, Syrah and Merlot and makes quilts for a living.  One day, she comes home to find Chablis sneezing, a sure sign that someone has been in the house – only to discover that Syrah is missing.

This is the catalyst (excuse the pun) which throws her into Mercy life and soon she has made friends with Candace – the police woman who was called to investigate the break in and Tom, an ex cop who is now a security system expert who also installed a cat cam in her house.

If you have ever lost a pet, you know that awful lurching feeling in your stomach and you can sense this desperation that Jillian feels in the book – there is no how or why about it, she needs to find her cat – even if it gets her into trouble.  With the help of Shawn and Allison from the animal shelter and her new cat cam, she discovers who the catnapper is, but when she goes to confront him and to get Syrah back, she finds him dead.

Soon Jillian ends up in the middle of a web of lies and combining the fate of dozens of cats and distraught owners, so she takes it upon herself to find out just what the catnapper was up to, assisted by her new friends Candace and Tom.  One of my favourite characters is the completely delusional Lydia Monk, an ex beauty queen deputy coroner with a fondness of inappropriate work wear and an unwavering belief in her sexual attraction over the men in the Mercy.  She is absolutely hilarious and just a little bit scary too.

The plot is very complex and like all good cozy mysteries there are enough characters to keep you on your toes.  It was nice to see the journey that Jillian went on, from the mourning reclusive to the stronger, more confident woman who rose to the challenge and kicked ass – advocating the rights of the cats, even in the face of uncooperative authorities.

I loved this book, it made me laugh and it made me cry – and I ended up reading into the early hours of the morning.  This new series is certainly in my top five favourites.

Leann Sweeney website