Sunday, January 6, 2013

A Novel Way to Die

A Novel Way to Die by Ali Brandon is a delightful cozy mystery.  It was purchased in 2012 as it was going to be used by the cat mystery group at in January 2013 for discussion.  Hamlet is the black cat mentioned in the sub-title A Black Cat Bookshop Mystery.

Darla Pettistone is the owner of  Pettistone's Fine Books and Hamlet's human since the death of her Aunt Dee.  At the beginning of the book, she is looking for a part-time employee.  Robert Gilmore dresses in all black and looked very familiar to Darla when he come to apply for the job. He was the young man who had accused her of murder in Double Booked for Death.  He has a letter of recommendation from Mary Ann Plinski, Darla's neighbor who owns an antique shop.  He knows books and he gets along with Hamlet who gives him a fist bump,  So, he is hired after Jake checks his background.

Robert's old boss, Porn Shop Bill comes into the store and says Darla stole his employee. So, Darla calls Jake (an ex-cop) to come up to the store.  He claims Robert owes him a hundred dollars.  Darla decides to pay him to get him out of the store.  She has him sign a receipt for the money first.
Curt Benedetto who was a new regular customer at the bookshop walks in.  Bill and Curt seemed to know each other but not in a friendly way.  Bill finally leaves after Darla threatens to call 911.  Then. Curt mentions that he saw Hamlet very early in the morning running out of the brownstone he was working on.

After Darla brings up the fact that Jake lives downstairs, Curt asks if she is seeing anyone.  But, Carla asksif he has been going out with Tera Aguilar, the daughter of Hilda Aguilar who owns Great Scentsations. He admits he had been dating her but liked to play the field.

A week later, Barry Eisen (Curt's business partner) picks up the book that Curt was waiting for.  Barry invites Darla to see the brownstone that he and Curt were fixing.  When they arrive at the house, a building inspector is waiting for Barry.  Barry send him away, saying that it is not a good time.  They look through the house and eventually find Curt's body at the bottom of the basement steps with a crowbar on his back.  Barry lifts off the crowbar and sees that Curt is dead.  They call 911 and wait.  Reese who is Jake's ex-partner is the police detective who comes to investigate.
Darla sees bloody paw prints on the basement floor but does not say anything.  She later has Jake test Hamlet's paws for blood.  Jake finds evidence of blood on Hamlet's paws.

Hamlet provides clues to the murderer by knocking books off the shelves.  The titles of the books help the bookstore staff to the identity of the killer.  The evidence that Reese finds leads him to arrest Hilda.  All during this time, Hilda's daughter has been missing.

Since, I do not want to give away the perp, I am not mentioning the books that Hamlet has left as clues.

I like this book even more than the first one and will look for any further books in the series.   Hamlet's personality comes out in more ways than one in this book.  He can be like a bro to Robert and he can show he does not like people by hissing or pawing them as he does to some of the interviewees for the job that Robert wins.  It is Hamlet's personality that made me call Darla his human vs his owner.

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