Escape Claws is a charming cozy mystery with just a touch of the paranormal.
Lara Caphart has come to Whisker Jog to help her ailing aunt whose arthritic knees have made it difficult to care for her growing clowder of kitties. Unlucky for Lara, she discovers the body of local bully businessman Theo Barnes the next morning. With enemies to choose from galore, the police are having a hard time finding Barnes’ killer. When misfit Glen is found dead from apparent drug overdose, and with a confession to boot, the police think the case is a done deal. However, Lara’s elusive Blue leads her to clues that cast doubt upon the killer’s identity.
Reilly’s Escape Claws is a delightful, first-rate mystery perfect for those who love cosies with critter companions. I adored all of Fran’s kitties! Munster is adorable as spokeskitty for the clowder. Dolce reminded me of my sweet Drizzit. At the very beginning of the book there is a ‘kitty cast intro’ that gives us tidbits of info for each of the cats, including the very special Ragdoll, Blue.
We get to really know Fran and Lara, and their story apart from the mystery. Lara is a painter, with a ‘not-quite-but-close’ starving artist theme. Fran is a retired teacher with a debilitating form of arthritis that needs surgery and therapy, but that would leave her unable to care for her furry family. Lara comes for what should have been a quick visit, and ends up falling in love with her childhood home all over again when she is forced to stay due to her involvement with the Barnes’ case.
The mystery unwound at a pleasant pace. The ending really took me by surprise! I never would have guessed the true killer. I loved Blue, Lara’s spirit Cat who guides her to valuable clues, and provides assurance when two of the wee kitties get adopted. Lara’s growth during her time in Whisker Jog was a delight to read. In the midst of death, she finds the true path of her life. I must also say, I liked that various characters reminded Lara that the police have more information than the average people. I find that gets overlooked in cosies quite often. The focus is on our common-man protagonist and their theories, and a lot of times it seems like the real police get short shrift.
There were a few loose ends I would have liked to see resolved. This s the first in a series, so it may be that the story continues to play out. There is Darryl’s mysterious reading improvement. He goes from have reading trouble to becoming quite the eloquent reader. It’s clear Blue, the spirit Cat, has a part to play in that, but it isn’t explored further. There’s also the matter of the letters Fran is hiding, and that their letters even got sidetracked. Why did Lara’s family move from Whisker Jog, and then contrive to cut communication between Aunt Fran and young Lara. I do hope these threads are resolved in later books.
***Many thanks to Silver Dagger Book Tours, and the author, for providing an egalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.