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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars entertaining whodunit
In Brooklyn with the death of her Aunt Dee, Darla Pettistone inherits Pettistone's Fine Books and Hamlet the cat. Darla knows she has a lot to prove to herself, to the neighborhood (and beyond) and mostly to that darn cat whose air of superiority bothers her now owner almost as much as the feline appears to have a higher IQ than she has.

She feels good about...
Published on December 6, 2011 by Harriet Klausner

versus
36 of 41 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable
"Double Booked for Death" is a cozy mystery. I suspect other people may find the characters engaging, but I found that their (unexpected) excessive use of bad language and Darla's habit of worrying about everything prevented me from really bonding with them.

The cat is just a cat--possibly a smart one, but possibly just a bad-tempered and naughty one. At the...
Published on December 20, 2011 by Debbie


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36 of 41 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable, December 20, 2011
By 
Debbie (Harrison, AR United States) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Double Booked for Death (A Black Cat Bookshop Mystery) (Mass Market Paperback)
"Double Booked for Death" is a cozy mystery. I suspect other people may find the characters engaging, but I found that their (unexpected) excessive use of bad language and Darla's habit of worrying about everything prevented me from really bonding with them.

The cat is just a cat--possibly a smart one, but possibly just a bad-tempered and naughty one. At the end, I concluded that the cat wasn't as smart as I'd thought he was and so he lost some of his charm for me, but Darla concluded the cat was smarter than she'd thought. I suspect I missed the significance of the books he chose to be naughty with (beyond the obvious that they were crime-related).

There weren't really enough real clues to guess whodunit until near the end of the book. Even when it was obvious, I keep expecting another twist because I didn't really understand whodunit's motive even though it was explained. Again, I was left feeling like I missed something.

Despite that, the book was enjoyable. There was some nice detail woven in about the book-selling business. The suspense was created by several strange and creepy happenings. There was a fair amount of explicit cussing and swearing as well as some fake bad words. There were no sex scenes.

After thinking it over a while, I decided part of the reason I was left feeling vaguely dissatisfied with this story was that Darla (and cat and and friends) don't solve the case. They don't know whodunit until the big confession scene, and the case would have been solved even if they did nothing throughout the story.

I received this book as a review copy from the publisher.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars entertaining whodunit, December 6, 2011
This review is from: Double Booked for Death (A Black Cat Bookshop Mystery) (Mass Market Paperback)
In Brooklyn with the death of her Aunt Dee, Darla Pettistone inherits Pettistone's Fine Books and Hamlet the cat. Darla knows she has a lot to prove to herself, to the neighborhood (and beyond) and mostly to that darn cat whose air of superiority bothers her now owner almost as much as the feline appears to have a higher IQ than she has.

She feels good about her first major event since taking over Pettistone's. Best-selling YA author Valerie Baylor will stop at Pettistone on her tour promoting her third bestselling Haunted High paranormal series. Darla anticipates five hundred or more teen girls attending the signing. She knows the gala has some problems from a person accusing the author of plagiarism and from a fundamentalist church thinking of picketing the bookstore. Those are minor to when Baylor arrives as she dies just outside the shop in what the police declare is a tragic accident. Hamlet the wise thinks otherwise and finds clues that propel Darla and her tenant former cop Jacqueline "Jake" Martelli, to investigate a homicide.

The first A Black Cat Bookshop Mystery is an entertaining whodunit starring a brilliant feline (who does not speak in human tongues), a beleaguered new store owner and an ex cop. The story line is fast-paced as Hamlet uncovers the clues that the two females working the case follow up on. Having an ex cop somewhat mitigates the amateur sleuth paradoxical flaw as fans will enjoy Double Booked For Death.

Harriet Klausner
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I agree with "ho-hum", January 16, 2012
By 
One of the Wyghts (Cincinnati, OH United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Double Booked for Death (A Black Cat Bookshop Mystery) (Mass Market Paperback)
disappointed. I want my "cat" mysteries to be centered around the cat solving the crime. This wasn't it. The cat was almost an after thought. Besides that, the characters were boring and I have to agree they didn't really solve the crime. I finished it just to see if Hamlet the cat ever came to life, but it was boring all the way. Would not read a second book in this series, if there is one.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can't Put It Down, December 15, 2011
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This review is from: Double Booked for Death (A Black Cat Bookshop Mystery) (Mass Market Paperback)
This is a real can't-put-it-down book, as all good mystery books should be. The plot is strong and exciting throughout, while at the same time there are intriguing mini-plots that further draw you into the total picture. Each of the characters is alive with personality and quirks, so you feel that you really see and know them - most of whom are quite lovable, from bright and chipper young Callie to terminally stuffy Professor James T. James. The antics of black-caped hyper-excited teenage fans showing up for the celebrity book-signing was a hoot.

Ali Brandon is a pen name for Diane A.S. Stuckart, who wrote the wonderful Leonardo Da Vinci mysteries, and she has come through with flying colors in her first Black Cat Bookshop mystery.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Double Booked for Death, February 15, 2012
This review is from: Double Booked for Death (A Black Cat Bookshop Mystery) (Mass Market Paperback)
#11 Book Read in 2012
Double Booked for Death

This is the first book in a cozy mystery series. Darla inherits a book store from her aunt and moved to New York City to run it. Part of the deal of the store is also inheriting Hamlet, her aunt's cranky big black cat. But Hamlet seems to have a talent for solving mysteries, which comes in handy when an author is killed at Darla's store during a book signing event. Darla and her security expert, Jake, a retired NYC cop, begin their own investigation into the author's death.

This book had great characters, especially Darla, Jake, James and Hamlet. The setting of a book store is one of my favorites for a mystery book. I will definitely continue this series and cannot wait for book #2.

[...]
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Strong Debut, December 22, 2011
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This review is from: Double Booked for Death (A Black Cat Bookshop Mystery) (Mass Market Paperback)
This was a very interesting novel which introduced us to Darla Pettistone, her inherited cat, Hamlet and tenant, Jake. Darla inherits her Great-Aunt Dee's brownstone in Brooklyn, so packs up her belongings and moves from Texas.

The brownstone is not just a home and garden apartment (Jake's abode,) but also a stylish bookstore. Darla is excited to host a popular author of a ghost series. As over five hundred teenaged fans line the sidewalks attired in black cloaks and red lipstick, Darla senses trouble. She is not wrong.

The Author goes on a smoke break and gets hit by a van of a church group set on protesting her books. Was it murder, an accident or is there more than is quickly evident?

This book has many layers of complexity and interest. I found the novel held my attention and am interested to see how the characters develop. A good debut.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars cozy murder, June 18, 2012
This review is from: Double Booked for Death (A Black Cat Bookshop Mystery) (Mass Market Paperback)
Double Booked is written by a master of the cozy mystery, Ali Bransdon, AKA Diane Stuckart, who is a Florida Book Award winner for her meticulous Leonardo Da Vinci series. Here, Brandon has created a comfortable niche for some interesting characters you will instantly love. This book is like putting on an old comfortable sweater-in which you find a mysterious note in the pocket that leads you down a dark path. You will rack your brain guessing at where the plot takes you next and just when you think you have it figured out-you find yourself going down a different path. This is the best of traditional murder mysteries easily in the realm of Agatha Christie and Nero Wolfe. Brandon has published numerous other titles in a similar vein, so you'll have plenty to keep you busy after you get addicted to this talented author.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars There are better cozy mysteries, April 30, 2014
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I wanted to like this book. I have just finished the last available Cat in the Stacks mysteries, and was hoping this would help fill the void until the next one. Unfortunately, there were several problems, and I doubt I will be buying the second one.

First, though, I'd like to state that I did not find it to have "excessive bad language" as noted by the most popular review. I believe Debbie's count, as noted in the comments section, but did not actually notice any of those instances of swearing while I was reading. The language came across as natural.

Here are the problems I had:
1. Although I guessed the right killer at the beginning (and even some of the sub-mysteries), the only reason I did was through the process of elimination. There just weren't enough suspects for the main mystery, and the sub-mysteries had clue-by-four clues.

2. I did not connect to any of the main characters, and the minor characters were poorly done. In particular, in two cases, quirks are used instead of actual characterization, making it feel rushed. Darla, the actual main character, jumped to conclusions way too easily and was much too easily swayed by her imagination: just short bits of information caused her to question relationships before she even thought to talk to the people involved. Also, she didn't solve the mystery. One of her suspects solved the mystery in front of her. That character, incidentally, was the only one I found interesting. I liked Jake more than Darla, but I had troubles connecting to James T. James. He seemed to me like a poor knock-off of Drayton from Laura Childs' tea shop mysteries.

3. The cat, as others have mentioned, was more of an aside. Yes, he toppled books that furthered the investigation, but the only things I really learned about him is that he is not friendly, he wants his breakfast on time (and a scene of him whining for food or a mention of it was repeated throughout the book), and he knows how to use his ability to knock books off shelves to communicate.

4. The books knocked over did seem tied to the investigation, but I'll admit that in at least one case, I had read the book and still couldn't make the content of that book fit the mystery of this book. I still don't know how it fits in, unless the author was just riffing on the title.

5. The plot did not seem focused. Darla was constantly running here and there, seemingly at random, following whichever of the theories she'd most recently grabbed onto to at the expense of any other reasoning. I suppose this makes it more realistic, but what is added in realism is lost in satisfaction. Instead of feeling like one story with interwoven subplots, it felt like several unconnected sub-plots added to the main plot just to make it longer/more complicated.

The good:
1. As I mentioned, one of the suspects was very well-rounded and very interesting. There was a lot of complexity and depth that I found missing from the main characters. It's just a pity that character was a suspect and minor character who likely won't be returning.

2. I found the portrayal of the woman who came to protest on behalf of her church to be portrayed in a very realistic manner. There were times when she veered into extremism, but despite that, she was very human, and I was happy to see such a balanced approach to a potentially controversial stereotype.

Finally, though this is neither good nor bad, I find it startling how many people compare this book to Hercule Poirot/Agatha Christie. One reviewer said that Hamlet was like Poirot, but Hamlet hardly does anything. As for Darla, she's so caught up in her own idea of what happened that she's more like Hastings or, for a more contemporary example, Harry Potter when he is on about Snape or Draco. She never looks at the evidence and find multiple possibilities: she picks the one she "likes" best and runs with it, ignoring anything that might veer her in another direction, which is the exact opposite of how Poirot views evidence. Again, there's nothing wrong with this approach, and it works well in other books, but it does mean that I question her ability as a detective (in Agatha Christie, Hastings is NOT the detective and is not supposed to be). If Hamlet's supposed to be the real detective (i.e. Poirot), then he needs to be more active, and someone needs to be able to use his clues/communication overtly in the reveal scene to solve the crime -- i.e. the crime needs to be solved and handed to the police *BECAUSE* of Hamlet's clues, which are somehow explained to the police.

Overall, it wasn't bad, but I am probably not going to read any more in this series at this time.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Agreed: An enjoyable cozy, April 15, 2012
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Double Booked to Death was presented as a cozy mystery and not the next Great American Novel. Cozy mysteries are formulaic and for their market niche that's the point. We don't have to work too hard at reading them, we can kind of count on certain things to be consistent, and for some of us that familiarity is welcome because real life provides us with enough to navigate. I've read several different series, some heavy on the romance, some heavier on the mystery and frankly, this isn't the best, but it also wasn't the worse.

I do know I'll read another one. My willing suspension of disbelief was engaged and I enjoyed the ride. Fans of books about books and publishing, people who revel in literary references might like some of the "clues" Hamlet provides us with. I found myself enjoying those and happily watching for them. This is not a mystery you'll figure out early in the book -- you get the clues just as Darla and Jake do, but you can relish noting the literary references and guessing right on those. I'm hoping in the next book, the author gives us even more of Hamlet's intelligent helpfulness.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars needs more cat, May 1, 2013
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took me forever to read just couldn't kept me interested, too slow not enough interaction with Hamlet, other characters no sparks
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Double Booked for Death (A Black Cat Bookshop Mystery)
Double Booked for Death (A Black Cat Bookshop Mystery) by Ali Brandon (Mass Market Paperback - December 6, 2011)
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