Friday, February 15, 2013

WHAT THE CAT SAW by Carolyn Hart

Publisher:   Berkley
Date published:   October 2, 2012
ISBN:  978-0425252741
Genre:   Mystery
Book format: Hardback
Obtained via:  Publisher
Reviewed by name and email address:  Gina


When Nela Farley’s husband died her world more or less stopped. It stopped but she found herself with an ability she wasn’t quite sure what to do with—she could understand what cats were thinking. Not that Nela believes she can really do this. She has many reasons why it might seem like she can understand a cat’s thoughts. When her free-spirited sister Chloe asks her to come and fill in at her job for her Nela boards and plan and heads to Craddock, Oklahoma.

Upon arriving she finds her sister’s car waiting for her along with directions to her home and job at the Haklo Foundation. At Chloe’s apartment Nela finds Jugs, the cat and immediately begins to pick up his thoughts, disturbing thoughts about his former owner, Marian. While Nela heard that Marian had died, it is Jugs’s assertion that it wasn’t a simple accident that chills her. At first she dismisses what may or may not be the cat’s thoughts but then someone breaks into Chloe’s apartment and wrecks havoc in a matter of minutes. The intruder leaves before the police arrives but Nela can’t help but wonder what brought the intruder into her sister’s home. Things become more disturbing when she arrives at Chloe’s job and finds a group of people who seem so very pleasant…just something lurks beneath the surface that portends yet another death. Can Nela find the killer before someone else dies?

If Carolyn Hart’s WHAT THE CAT SAW was made into a movie it would be best done as a black and white film directed by a Hitchcock-esq director. The only color would be Jugs’s eyes. There is an element of stage craft in the telling where you draw your clues from what isn’t said as much as what is. The story keeps you hovering on the edge, wondering what will happen to or around the heroine, Nela, next.  It is one of those books I picked up, started to read, and kept on reading every spare moment because Nela was never quite out of danger yet she didn’t run from it.

Even though he was a minor, secondary character, I really liked Jugs. He’s a cat’s cat and Ms. Hart captured the essence of what a cat is and does spot on.

The story had some holes in it that took it down a notch for me. The beginning seemed to ramble and I felt like I’d been dropped in the middle of the story without knowing how I got there. It is an interesting way of placing the reader in Nela’s shoes while she tries to make sense of her sister’s thoughts and life. There threads that repeated themselves, i.e., the members of the Haklo Foundation and how pleasant they were.

We are told that Nela’s husband died and how—it seems at least half the contemporary stories have to have some sort of reference to either September 11 or the war in Iraq or Afghanistan and a character has to have someone who died in one of those places. They are horrific events of our times, but not every story has to include a reference to them. Bill, Nela’s husband, seemed to be thrown in so that that element would be a part of the story.

I did appreciate Steve’s introspection as to why after only a few days he was so drawn to Nela. It was realistic and believable. I liked how the book ended with his thoughts on whether or not there could…would…be a relationship with Nela.

If the series continues I’d like to see more of Jugs and his part in solving the mysteries.

There is a crispness to the story that, like Hitchcock, evokes emotion without a lot scenery or action needed to tell the story.

This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book.


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