Friday, June 11, 2010

Rebecca M. Hale "How To Wash a Cat"

Fortunately “How to Wash a Cat” is not that complicated. However, this first title in a new “antique-store” themed series of so-called “cozy” mysteries relies on a bit of time-travelling.

Turns out that other than the Golden Gate Bridge and trolleys, San Francisco shares something else with Lisbon: earth has surely and steadily conquered the waters. So a part of the contemporary city used to be under water in gold-rush time San Fran.

The unnamed protagonist is a bespectacled accountant (and proud owner of two cats, who, by the description and cover illustration must be two beautiful, long-haired Turkish Vans) who finds herself the surprised heir of an antique shop and building (“Why do so many cozy mysteries start with a dead uncle or aunt?” – my sister’s clever reply: “You need the inheritance to kick start things. And the career change.” – seems cozy mysteries are as much wish fulfill, statement to modern day girls as Harlequin novels were to a different generation).

There are, of course, some doubts as to whether uncle Oscar met his untimely death by accident. Actually, there seems to be some question if he is truly dead. Also, he has left some cryptic clues behind, which lead the niece across some strange discoveries.

There are tunnels and old maps, which left me a bit lost. There were also some historical figures which I kept mixing up. But on the whole I liked it. Now, I wasn’t crazy about it: there was definitely some character development needed and there seemed to be a lot of ideas that were never fleshed out, as well as rhythm issues, but I think I’ll reserve harsher judgment until the end of volume two. Besides, it’s only the beginning of mystery book season (summer, baby) and I’m feeling benign.

And, as far as the ultra-stifling world of cozy mysteries is concerned, with series popping up every which way starring anything from dog psychics to home renovators, getting the reader interested in number two in the series is a pretty big deal.

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