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Mew is for Murder: A Theda Krakow Mystery #1 (Theda Krakow Series) [Kindle Edition]

Clea Simon
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (204 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Theda Krakow is in a funk. Her sometime boyfriend’s gone for good. The death of her beloved cat opened a bigger void. And the career leap she’s made from copy editor to freelance writer has left her finances—and her spirit—flat. She desperately needs a headline to get her life back on track.

One day, out for a stroll in her Cambridge neighborhood, Theda spies an adorable stray kitten. This charmer leads Theda to an old woman holed up in a decrepit house full of cats. Is this one of those “crazy cat ladies,” a classic hoarder, or is the old woman a neighborhood do-gooder? More important: is this the story to catapult Theda out of the dumps? But when she returns to interview Lillian Helmhold, Theda finds her fascinating subject dead of an apparent accident. The neighbors are celebrating, the police aren’t interested, and the cats are removed to a shelter. End of story? Not for Theda—one or two things don’t compute. So Theda marshals her investigative journalism skills to turn gumshoe.

Why is the purple-haired punk Violet, a barista at Theda’s favorite coffee house, hanging around Lillian’s home? Then there’s Lillian’s neighbor who’s only too anxious to clean up an eyesore. What’s the story on Lillian’s disturbed son? Theda’s inquiries lead her from a halfway house in the hills of Western Massachusetts back to Boston’s happening rock scene. Enter a music-loving artist, the one who jumpstarts Theda’s pulse. He’s handsome, he’s interested—but is he a bit too mysterious? Theda’s quiet life, her heart, and her bank account are about to be shaken to the core.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Journalist Simon (The Feline Mystique) makes an auspicious fiction debut with a well-plotted cat mystery that's not your usual four-footed cozy caper. Theda Krakow, an appealing freelance feature writer, really gets down to "kickin' " blues and the Boston rock scene. When Theda goes to interview "cat lady" Lillian Helmhold at home in Cambridge, she finds Lillian dead and her cats circling the woman's big Victorian house in distress. Lillian's death appears to be an accident, but someone keeps breaking into her house, which is rumored to contain treasure in the late owner's stacks of boxes and papers. Suspects include a coffee-bar waitress who helped Lillian with the cats, Lillian's schizophrenic son and an avaricious realtor who lives next door and hates cats. Simon writes well about the visceral tug of today's rock music. We feel the feral heart of true hard rock, and the way the sound, the dancing and the booze all blend into something close to good sex. If the ending borders on the saccharine, and a cat named "Aslan" who saves the day is a little much, this is still a strong start to what one hopes will be a long series.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Boston journalist Simon wisely sets her debut novel in the city she knows best. In fact, sharing a native's insight into Cambridge, Jamaica Plain, and other Boston-area haunts does much to make up for a somewhat predictable plot. Simon's protagonist, Theda Krakow, is a copy editor who has recently made the move to freelance writer. Desperately seeking stories, Theda sells her editor on an idea to interview Lillian Helmhold, a "crazy cat lady" harboring numerous felines. When she shows up for the interview, Theda finds the old lady dead. Is it murder? A punk rocker named Violet, who helped with the cats, definitely thinks so. Theda feels that she owes it to Lillian--and her now homeless cats--to find the truth. With Violet's help, Theda tracks down Lillian's mentally challenged son, looks for a motive, and indulges in her after-hours passion--the rock scene in Boston's small clubs. Although the mystery is easy to solve, Simon brilliantly evokes the Boston music scene and imparts interesting tidbits about freelance writing. Perhaps most thankfully, she avoids the hypercutesiness of some cat cozies. Jenny McLarin
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • File Size: 570 KB
  • Print Length: 241 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press (May 25, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #376,601 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
45 of 46 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Worth checking out September 7, 2005
This book introduces us to Theda Krakow, an engaging freelance reporter who has recently been through some crises in her life (namely, she broke up with her boyfriend and her beloved cat recently passed away). She discovers a kitten (Musetta) one day and meets the cat's owner, Lillian Helmhold, a woman who literally has a household full of cats.

Theda decides to do a story on Lillian (who Theda believes might be a cat "hoarder"), but Lillian is soon discovered dead. Although the police think it was an accident, Lillian's devoted friend Violet (who also happens to be the local coffee shop barrista) thinks otherwise. Working together, Theda and Violet attempt to discover what really caused Lillian's unfortunate demise.

I really wanted to love this book; after all, I love mysteries and cats, and live in the Boston/Cambridge area. Although I did enjoy it, and would certainly pick up another mystery by this author in the future, the story was not quite as captivating as I would have hoped (mainly because it was quite easy to guess the ending). However, it was nevertheless enjoyable, and I'd recommend it, especially to readers who like "cat mysteries."
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars strong investigative mystery July 5, 2005
It hasn't been a very good year for Theda Krakow, copy editor for the Morning Mail in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She and her boyfriend broke up when he took a job out of state and even more devastating her beloved cat James died. She quits as a copy editor to become a freelance writer for the Morning Mail. When she sees a kitten near a house in her neighborhood, she finds herself charmed by her. The kitten Mussetta belongs to Lillian Helmhold who has a house full of cats that people dump on her.

Theda decides to do a story on Ms. Helmhold but on the day she approaches her she finds her dead in the house. The police think Lillian tripped and a resulting head injury caused her death but the victim's friend Violet Hayes thinks she was murdered. Theda believes it is a possibility and starts investigating even while she thinks someone is in the house illegally, looking for something.

Clea Simon has a definite talent for writing investigative mysteries and her love for felines shine through on almost every page. Theda is gutsy, independent and totally likeable. The who-done-it is well crafted and readers will have a good time trying to figure out who the killer is and why it was necessary to kill an elderly lady who hurt no one. MEW IS FOR MURDER is a delightful start to a new series.

Harriet Klausner
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clea Simon Has A Winner December 15, 2005
By ZillyWa
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Clea Simon has a winner! This is a mystery that cats are really cats; and that is so refreshing. Theda Krakow a freelance writer decides to write about a cat hoarder in her neighborhood. Only to discover that the woman in question is lying dead in her kitchen on the day she goes to interview her. Is the cat lady's death an accident as the police have reported it?

Theda not quite ready to adopt a cat yet so soon after the death of her own cat, but she rescues a limping kitten. The other cats in and about the house are rounded up and taken to the shelter. Somehow, she cannot see the kitten going into such an uncertain future. Something keeps drawing Theda back to the house and she begins to suspect murder.

Is it the young girl who has a punk band and sneaks in to take car of some of the cats left behind? Is it the woman next door who is a real estate dealer and wants to see the large house sold to someone who can take care of the property and raise the property values around the neighborhood? Some Theda is not sure she is comfortable with as she lives in the same neighborhood and gentrification will put her and many of her neighbors out.

What about the prejudice behavior towards the cat lady's mentally ill son? Would someone have killed her to keep him away from the neighborhood? To hunt for a supposed hidden treasure that he would not be able to handle. Why are people so nasty about her son?

Who are the other characters that show up at the house off and on and what are they looking for? Why is everyone interested in the cat lady's house and was she a true cat hoarder or was she someone who really took care of the cats and rescued them?

Read this book for a great mystery with real cats that do not talk or read books.
Read more ›
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cool for Cats July 11, 2005
This is a sharp, funky mystery with a well-turned plot, lots of surprise twists and yes, an adorable kitty or two. But it's notable most of all for introducing us to a most appealing heroine, Theda Krakow. If you've spent time with young, creative types in the city, you've met Theda: She's a struggling journalist with one foot in the rock'n'roll world, with talents for investigative writing and for getting herself into trouble. Theda's ability to manage her love life, catch her favorite band, nearly get herself killed and save the day-- all while making sure to meet her deadlines-- gives the story its zing and its charm.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fun read! October 4, 2005
I love mysteries! It seems, when I think about it, that I read an awful lot of violent mysteries. When I've overdosed on those, it is so nice to settle into the sunroom sofa and read a traditional or cozy mystery. And that is exactly what I did when I read Mew Is for Murder by Clea Simon.

Bad things seem to happen in threes. Have you ever noticed that? Theda Krakow is living that truth in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Her boyfriend left town after they broke up, her beloved cat died and she's left a regular paycheck as a copy editor for the uncertain life of a freelance writer.

While on a walk, Theda finds a little lost kitten. Theda finds the owner, Lillian Helmhold and returns the kitten. Lillian loves cats and cares for many. Theda decides to write a story about Lillian and her cats and wants to interview her. That interview doesn't happen because Theda finds her very dead when she returns to conduct the interview. Is it an accident as many people believe, or could it be murder? If it is murder, what could the motive be?

Clea Simon has a wonderful possibility for a series with Theda Krakow. It is a fun, fast and wonderful read with a bright and interesting heroine. And if you're a cat lover, you'll really enjoy yourself.

Armchair Interviews says: We're looking forward to the next novel by Clea Simon.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun first cat-infused mystery in a good series
Although I read this one second, it's actually the first in this series. And an enjyable start it is! Read more
Published 9 days ago by Cissa
5.0 out of 5 stars The Neighbors are happy and the Police don't care
Theda Krakow is in a major funk her Boyfriend is gone her Cat died and her big career move from Copy Editor to Freelance writer has left her finances and her flat. Read more
Published 2 months ago by lady g
4.0 out of 5 stars Slow starting. But worth It.
Good plot. Several loose ends, but all were tied up by the end. This doesn't always happen.
Published 3 months ago by Inquiring Mind
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun read. My cat agrees!
This was a fun read. I thought it might slide over from fun to too graphic with the romantic scene but that didn't happen.
Can't wait to read the next in the series.
Published 3 months ago by CindyLuWho
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Published 3 months ago by christine b
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Mystery
It's always difficult to find mysteries involving cats (or dogs for that matter) that don't get cutesy. Read more
Published 3 months ago by ceilidh
4.0 out of 5 stars Pleasantly Surprised
This is a book my sister recommended and since we have different tastes, well.... to my surprise this book is a good light read without the usual cozy-mystery setting. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Suzanne Marzano
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
Most boring book ever!
Published 6 months ago by Brenda Phillips
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Most enjoyable, well written.
Published 6 months ago by Nancy Ellen
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read
Would recommend this to anyone who wants a good story with nicely developed characters and a story that moves right along. Very enjoyable.
Published 7 months ago by Andy
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More About the Author

Hi! Welcome to my Amazon Connect page. I don't know if you found me because you like fun feline mysteries you might be wondering about my mystery "Dogs Don't Lie." Yup, it's got a dog in it - but my new heroine, the animal psychic Pru Marlowe, couldn't function without her sidekick, an irascible tabby named Wallis. They both appear in "Cats Can't Shoot," "Parrots Prove Deadly," and the latest Pru "Panthers Play for Keeps." (Look for "Kittens Can Kill" in March 2015! All from Poisoned Pen Press) Meanwhile, I hope you are enjoying my Theda Krakow series - "Mew is for Murder," "Cattery Row," "Cries and Whiskers," or "Probable Claws" - and my Dulcie Schwartz series (think cats AND ghosts!) with "Shades of Grey," "Grey Matters," "Grey Zone," "Grey Expectations," "True Grey," "Grey Howl," "Stages of Grey," and the upcoming "Code Grey" (April 2015 from Severn House). Or perhaps we share some family issues, and you're looking at "Mad House" or "Fatherless Women." Or maybe you just love cats and are interested in my "The Feline Mystique." At any rate, good to meet you! I'm a writer and journalist, an avid reader, and am looking forward to making this page lively and fun.


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