A Book Review of Curiosity Thrilled the Cat by Sophie Kelly
Hey y’all, Imma review a book.
The aforementioned book is Curiosity Thrilled the Cat, by Sophie Kelly. It is a “magical cats mystery” and thus part of a larger series. A friend of mine recommended them, but I was a little reluctant considering that I am typically leery of ‘magic’ animals in adult’s fiction. On the plus side, the book had an excellent tag line: “Something whiskered this way comes …” so I thought, “Why not?” and plunged in to see what the author had come up with.
As it turns out, the book was Jolly Good. The mystery was sufficiently mysterious, with red-herrings (but not too many) and clues and whatnot. More importantly, the book was chock-a-block with interesting characters. Since characters are what I enjoy the most, this was a good thing in mine eyes. Like Agatha Christie, the author made the character’s quirks and personalities as good, if not better, than the mystery itself. Any mystery book that reminds me of Dame Christie is an automatically good thing in my world.
Kelly is particularly adept at that extremely difficult art of telling a lot about a character with just a sentence or two. I was never overwhelmed with back-story, yet I ingested plenty enough that I was happy, and in some cases eager, to see another little paragraph or sentence about a character I had “gotten to know”. She never choked me to death with adjectives or drown me in a sea of adverbage, but still managed to convey a lot of description. That’s impressive, people.
Moreover, she managed to lay the groundwork for the future story arcs in the series (books Sleight of Paw, Copycat Killing, and Cat Trick are already out there, with another book titled Final Catcall coming out in October) without being heavy-handed with it. I dislike it when authors leave cliffhangers or other nonsense to try to bully me into buying the next book. It irks me. Kelly was sure enough of her craft that she made this a completely stand alone book if needs be. I bought the next book because the writing in the first book was good, not because I wasn’t going to get a resolution otherwise.
There is a potential love interest, which I like in mysteries, and Kelly had the good sense not to rush her protagonist too far into a romance in the first book. If the hero and heroine are too linked too early then they become the Dynamic Duo of crime solving, whereas these books are clear that the heroine is the central (if unsuspecting) detective. There were some increasingly close friendships with the leading lady developing throughout the plot, and they were obviously going to be part of the heroine’s future, which I found nice because they were by and large interesting personalities with hints of complexity. Moreover, the protagonist had a family that shall definitely be the source of much anecdotal mirth. In fact, I liked the family so much that I am already curious to see what they will be doing in the next book. This is pretty amazing, since the heroine only commutated with her family over the telephone and in descriptions during dialog with other characters.
As for the cats, Kelly didn’t go overboard there or hit anyone with the hammer of “Magical cats! See them! See the magic!” or anything like that. The cat’s are clearly unnaturally intelligent, but they don’t talk or drive cars or lay golden eggs. They each possess only one magical ability, and each preternatural gift is (hint hint) an ability that cats are typically suspected of having anyway. It doesn’t get silly or force the reader to not only suspend disbelief, but to go ahead and hang it with a noose. The cats are (of course) very important, in that they are clue magnets, but it’s done well and they don’t overshadow the humans.
In all, if I had to sum up the book, the word I would use is “deft”. Her heroine gets into situations that are amusing, but Kelly never goes in for slapstick. There is danger, but it is not exaggerated for effect. The book does not jar the reader out of the storyline, and it does not have ridiculous plot twists. Considering that the book has magical cats, a librarian who solves murders, some Jane-Eyre-worthy coincidences, and other implausible things, that is saying a lot.
There you have it folks. I have reviewed my first book on BlogHer!