Series: Cat Latimer #3
Published by Kensington on November 28, 2017
Genres: Cozy Mystery
Source: the publisher
Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble
Also in this series: A Story to Kill
Also by this author: Guidebook to Murder, Mission to Murder, If the Shoe Kills, Dressed To Kill, Killer Run, Murder on Wheels, Tea Cups and Carnage, A Story to Kill, Hospitality and Homicide, Killer Party, Rockets' Dead Glare
Love is in the air in Aspen Hills, and it’s making a terrible mess of Cat Latimer’s writers’ retreat—especially when blood stains the plot . . .
Ever since her business partner, Shauna, fell for a wealthy landowner in town, Cat has been working double time to keep her writers’ retreat running. And with the January session almost underway, that spells trouble. As if scheduling mishaps aren’t disastrous enough, Shauna skips out on kitchen duties one morning, forcing Cat to serve unsuspecting guests store-bought muffins . . .
But best laid plans really go awry when Shauna discovers her beau missing from their bed. When his body later turns up in the horse barn, they quickly find out the victim’s scandalous lifestyle left many dying for revenge. While balancing an eccentric group of aspiring writers and a suspect list for the record books, Cat soon finds herself on the heels of a killer—and authoring her most deadly conclusion yet . . .
I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.
Lark here: I’ve been reading Lynn Cahoon’s cozy small-town mysteries since the first Tourist Trap mystery came out in 2014. Nine Tourist Trap mysteries and two Cat (now three) Latimer mysteries later, I’m still following her. So when this tour came up, I was eager to sign up, and delighted to discover I’d been chosen to host a guest post by the narrator of this series, Cat Latimer herself.
Hi, I’m Cat Latimer, author of young adult witch out of water series. I love writing in my magical realism world where I get to make up the rules. But sometimes, even I have to come back to our real world where nothing magical happens, unless you look for it.
We tried out an extra day on our last retreat. Seth and I took our writer retreat guests on an extra day adventure. We’ve got several of these planned for the upcoming year and it seems to be selling well with our guests. I love sharing Colorado with our new friends.
This time, the retreat is almost ready to go and Shauna’s gone missing. Well, that’s not completely accurate. I know where she is. She’s at Kevin’s ranch. They’re getting more and more serious. Or at least she is getting serious. I hope he’s not going to break her heart.
Uncle Pete just showed up and told me one of the guests is coming in a day early. I didn’t know and, of course, Shauna’s not here. It’s too late to send Seth to the airport to get her so the woman’s going to have one heck of a taxi bill. There’s nothing I can do about that. But I can get her room ready and run out and get some muffins and bananas for breakfast tomorrow.
I may just have to refund her money if her retreat keeps going this way. The woman came all the way from Alaska. I hate for her to have a bad time. The good news, is she’s an ex-cop so Uncle Pete is taking her out to dinner tonight. That should give me some time to get things ready.
This experience has taught me one thing. I can’t run this retreat by myself. I’m too lost in my books and playing with my imaginary friends to keep track of things like dates and reservations.
Anyway, I better get going. I need to find where Shauna keeps the clean sheets and welcome baskets. Maybe doing a retreat was a bad idea but now that I have the remodel loan, I’m stuck with it. With or without Shauna.
When Cat decided to host a monthly writer’s retreat at the old Victorian house she inherited from her ex-husband, Michael, she didn’t expect to be involved in murder—not once, but twice. Her first two retreats were overshadowed by murders, and Cat is hoping trouble doesn’t come in threes. It’s bad enough that her best friend and employee/partner, Shauna, is absent when the first retreat guest unexpected arrives a day early. Cat doesn’t need another murder to add to her worries.
Alas, Cat’s hopes for a trouble-free, productive retreat are dashed when Shauna’s fiance Kevin is found dead in his horse barn, possibly a victim of poison. It turns out that more than a few people might have wished him ill… literally. And one or two of them—or maybe more—just happen to have some connection to the current writer’s retreat. Between Cat’s loyalty to Shauna, her scholar’s dedication to the truth, and her own innate curiosity, it’s inevitable that Cat will try to solve the mystery.
What keeps me reading Lynn Cahoon’s books, besides the small-town atmosphere that I enjoy, is the likeable ordinariness of the characters, especially the main characters (Jill and her police detective boyfriend Greg in the Tourist Trap mysteries; Cat, Shauna, and Cat’s former and current boyfriend Seth in this series.) By “ordinary,” I don’t mean boring; I mean they are people like my friends and neighbors. They’re not eccentric or quirky or unusually gifted. For the most part, they lead ordinary lives, and their relationships, whether romantic and friendly, go through the usual ups and downs.
The romances also progress, thank goodness. I have no patience for series that leave a possible romance in limbo forever, without resolving the question of whether they will get together and/or stay together. You can take plenty of time developing the relationship, but I need to see that is moving in some direction…and I’d like some resolution within a reasonable number of books. Thankfully, Cahoon offers that.
At any rate, Cat reminds me in some ways of myself, and in some ways of various friends of mine. I see traits of various friends in Seth, too, and even in Shauna, though I feel like we (the readers) know her less well than we do Cat and Seth. That easy relatability helps bring the characters to life, and makes me care about them beyond the current mystery plot.
I said above that ordinary didn’t mean “boring,” and I meant it. That goes for the plot, too. While we’d like to think that murder won’t happen in our own lives, the fact is that in real life as in the books, things do happen to relatively ordinary people like Kevin, and like Cat, Seth, and Shauna. It’s true that the latter three seem to get mixed up in an unusual number of murders. (Just for the record, I would never set foot in either of Cahoon’s fictional small towns—too many people die, especially newcomers and visitors.) But it’s the number of murders they encounter that is unusual, not necessarily the circumstances of any particular murder. The murders in these books, like the main characters, are believable because they’re the sorts of things that actually do happen. And just as in this book, I’m sure that in some real-life cases, there are plenty of suspects for the police (and Cat, in the book) to investigate before the real culprit is caught. Of course, unlike real life, you can be sure the murderer in a cozy mystery will be caught!
One of the things that sets this series apart from the Tourist Trap mysteries is a multi-book story arc: a mystery surrounding the actions of Cat’s ex-husband before his death…which may not have been of natural causes. Just what Michael had been working on, and whether and how it led to his death, are still unresolved at the beginning of this mystery, which simply leads to more things for Cat to worry about, wonder about, and try to solve. Is it resolved by the end of Of Murder and Men? Like the solution to Kevin’s murder, that’s something you’ll have to read the book to find out.
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