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Murder Past Due (Cat in the Stacks Mystery) Mass Market Paperback – August 3, 2010


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Product Details

  • Series: Cat in the Stacks Mystery (Book 1)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley; English Language edition (August 3, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 042523603X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425236031
  • Product Dimensions: 4.6 x 0.8 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (162 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #76,224 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Miranda James is a pseudonym for Dean James, the Agatha Award-winning author of several works of mystery nonfiction as well as four mystery series including the New York Times bestselling Cat in the Stacks series.

Customer Reviews

And Diesel is a cat to love...in a majorly BIG WAY of course!
Amazon Customer
If you've missed this new cat in the stacks mystery series like I had, it's highly recommended!
Amazon Customer
I really enjoyed this book ,it was an easy read at bedtime and the story kept me interested.
I. Batt

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

89 of 94 people found the following review helpful By Sheila L. Beaumont VINE VOICE on August 7, 2010
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
This cozy mystery has an irresistibly attractive cover, and I'm happy to report that the story inside more than measures up to it! I liked the characters, including the good-natured, compassionate librarian Charlie Harris, the delightful small-town Southern setting, the way all the supporting characters were so well portrayed, and the clever whodunit plot. Most of all, I loved Diesel, Charlie's friendly Maine coon cat, who loves attention, walks on a leash, and chirps and warbles rather than meowing. A fun read for anyone who loves mysteries, cats and books.
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45 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Lori Caswell TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 3, 2010
Format: Mass Market Paperback
A CAT IN THE STACKS MYSTERY
RELEASE DATE AUGUST3, 2010
BERKLEY PRIME CRIME

This is a brand new series featuring Diesel, a Maine coon cat rescued by Charlie Harris, the kindly librarian, who takes Diesel almost everywhere he goes in a halter with a leash. Maine coon cats are huge, they can weigh as much as 25 pounds and it is one of the oldest natural breeds in North America, specifically native to the state of Maine, where it is the official State Cat. They are known for their intelligence and gentle personalities.

Diesel and his owner reside in Athena, Mississippi where Charlie, who has recently lost his wife to cancer returns to his hometown to live in a home left to him by his aunt. He works in the Archive Department of the college library and Diesel is well known at the library but stays pretty close to Charlie. Charlie also rents out rooms in his home to college students just as his aunt did. Diesel has a unique trait, in that he knows when people around him need a paw, a head bump or a cuddle, and is especially close to Justin, a freshman at the college who is rooming with Charlie.

Charlie is immersed in his work when he learns that famous author and former classmate, Godfrey Priest, is returning to Athena to promote his current book and take care of some personal business. Charlie remembers his classmate as an arrogant jerk would thought he was better than anyone else and there are quite a few people who agree with that assessment. His homecoming is very eventful, by lunch he had put one man in the hospital, turned some of the town's residents lives upside down, and by dinner he is found dead in his hotel room.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By R. Larkin on October 13, 2010
Format: Mass Market Paperback
When librarian and archivist Charlie Harris loses both his wife and his beloved aunt within a few weeks, he returns to his roots in Athena, Mississippi; to the gracious house Aunt Dottie has willed to him. With the help of her faithful housekeeper, he continues his aunt's custom of boarding a few college students each year. This process has gone very smoothly - until now.

When his boarder Justin learns that the man who raised him is not his natural father; and that his real father, a famous author revisiting his home town, wants the boy to live with him, sparks begin to fly. When the author is murdered in his hotel room, Justin and his mother become prime suspects, and Charlie attempts to help clear the boy.

While this cozy has a charming setting and some interesting characters - particularly Diesel, the Maine Coon cat - it seems to have been scrambled together in a bit of a hurry. The author trails more red herrings past us than a fish market; and we never do learn why the police detective is so sure of the guilty party - she doesn't even learn about the clue that will nail it until the arrest at the very end, when she has no time to check it out.

With that said, this first book has a lot of the elements for an entertaining series, if the author can organize her plots better and develop the characters in subsequent books.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Stars In Her Eyes on December 4, 2010
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I enjoyed this little book, easily reading through it in an afternoon. The characters are interesting and generally ring true, and the small-town Southern setting is perfect for this type of story. (I grew up in a small town and later lived in a small Southern town for 10 years, and I felt that the social relationships generally rang true.)

Diesel is a very important character. He is a very unusual cat both in terms of his size and habits (have YOU ever seen a cat walked on a leash?) and his empathy with other characters. I would hope that Diesel will continue to play an important role in future books of the series.

So why only 3 stars? Simple: because the real strength of this book is its characters and setting, while the actual mystery left me very unsatisfied.

The denouement at the end had two big problems. First and most important, it left me saying to myself, "Wait! That's it? But you haven't explained...and you've left many characters in limbo! What actions did they take next?" The book *desperately* needs a short Epilogue that wraps up the unanswered questions about the characters and how they'll be impacted by the events of the book.

The second one is stylistic and annoying to me, but may be fine with other readers. Charlie is clearly the protagonist and viewpoint character, while we see very little of the policewoman except when Charlie is interacting with her. And yet the final confrontation is all about her solving the puzzle and making the arrest, with Charlie shunted aside. This didn't work for me at all, especially since I found her a very unsympathetic character.

I am willing to read a second book in the series, but if the two problems above are repeated I won't be reading the third.
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More About the Author

I am a native of Mississippi and recently returned to live in Jackson after spending thirty-three years in Houston, Texas. I have loved mysteries since I discovered Nancy Drew at the age of ten. At twelve or thirteen I wrote a mystery and even submitted it to a publisher -- and promptly received a form rejection letter. That dashed my hopes for a writing career for a while, but I went back to writing mysteries while I was in graduate school in Rice. My first published adult mystery was actually the second one I wrote: CRUEL AS THE GRAVE was published in 2000.

Since then I have published twenty additional mysteries, the latest of which is ARSENIC AND OLD BOOKS, the sixth in the Cat in the Stacks series. In my day-to-day life I am a librarian like Charlie (except my specialty is medical libraries) and I have two cats, neither of whom is a Maine Coon. I love reading and writing mysteries and taking care of two spoiled cats (that's probably redundant--all cats are spoiled because they generally accept no less). I write mysteries to entertain readers and help them relax and get away from the pressures of daily life. That's why I read them myself.

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