Wednesday, June 11, 2014


Publisher:  Berkley
Published:   July 6, 2010
ISBN:  978-0425234327
Genre:   Cozy Mystery   
Format:  Paperback
Obtained via:  Publisher
Reviewed by name and email address:  Gina



One fine morning antique store owner Rebecca is woken to the sound of her two cats, Rupert and Isabella racing through not only her cozy apartment above the shop, but through the shop itself.  Actually, it’s more Rupert than Isabella and he is a man…err…cat on a missions.

Meanwhile, down the street a grungy man, dressed in stale overalls, makes his way to the Jackson Square area of San Francisco.  He meanders by Rebecca’s shop, the Green Vase, peers in and goes on his way. 

And then there is the elderly Chinese woman who also has an interest in the shop…or at least what she perceives to be contents hidden within its walls. 

When her friend, Della ask Rebecca to venture to fellow shop owner, Monty Carmichael’s new job and pick something up for her, Rebecca is less than thrilled with the request, but for a friend?  She’ll go.  It turns out Monty has a new appointment down at City Hall.  But instead of one of the offices in the upper floors he’s ensconced down below.  When a strange custodian comes along and offers to show Rebecca where to find Monty, at first she doesn’t want to go…but in need of directions she follows him and so begins a bizarre treasure hunt. 

I really enjoyed Rebecca M. Hale’s first book in her Cats and Curios mysteries, HOW TO WASH A CAT. What’s not to like about a book that takes place in San Francisco, right?  Living in the Bay Area it was not just easy to visualize the areas Ms. Hale takes her readers through in both HOW TO WASH A CAT and in book 2, NINE LIVES LAST FOREVER.  We Bay Area residents tend to like to read about our local venues and visitors to the city no doubt smile at different scenes as well.  But more than “visiting” parts of the City when you read one of Ms. Hale’s books, you are treated to some of its incredible history.  In NINE LIVES LAST FOREVER she not only weaves some of Mark Twain’s life in the area as well as his famous jumping frog story, she takes readers into one of our darker moments – the assassinations of Mayor Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk. 

Despite the wonderful historical facts in the book and travels through San Francisco, the story sometimes became bogged down with those very facts. 

NINE LIVES LAST FOREVER is not your traditional cozy mystery but neither is it a historical mystery.  It falls somewhere in between as kind of treasure hunter’s mystery—finding long lost artefacts from San Francisco’s history.  But it doesn’t go completely there.  It is a book looking for a genre and while it searches for it, it gets muddled in the history lesson narrative. I was near city hall the day Mayor Moscone and Supervisor Milk were killed—people at my day job knew them both.  To this day, even though it happened 36 years ago, it is still difficult for me to read in a fictional context.

Rupert and Isabella are by far the best parts of the book.  I love the cats’ antics.  Ms. Hale has a firm handle on cat behaviour and relates it in wonderful style.

For me, NINE LIVES LASTS FOREVER fell into what I’ve termed “secondbookitis”.  It’s a pattern I’ve started to see more and more where an author has a fabulous first book in a series and the second falls far below the bar set by book 1.  At least half the time the third book turns out to be a super read so I will be continuing the series and seeing where Ms. Hale goes from here.

If you love San Francisco you’ll love NINE LIVES LAST FOREVER.  Ditto for fans of missing artefacts and mysteries in general.  If you are looking for a traditional cozy, this one isn’t it.

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

No comments: