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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
What The Cat Saw is the first in, what I hope, is a new series from the wonderful storyteller, Carolyn Hart.

Nela is only too happy to help her sister out on the spur of the moment, as Nela has lost her job as an investigative reporter and her boyfriend was recently killed in the war overseas. She needs a change in her life to sort out her problems. Her sister Chloe is one who often speaks in half sentences and tells half a story. Chloe has asked Nela to fill in for her at her job with the Haklo Foundation and says that she will be staying at her late bosses apartment above a refurbished carriage house and take care of Jugs, the cat, that lives there. Chloe's boss, Marian Grant, had fallen down the stairs at her apartment and died just a few days before Nela arrived. As Nela is settling in for her first night in Grant's apartment she looks Jug in the eye and gets the message: "Dead, board on second step". this isn't the first time she has gotten these messages form cats. As Nela starts to settle in for the evening she hears foot steps on stairs and barricades herself in the bedroom. Someone breaks in and seems to be looking for something. The police are called, but by the time they arrive the burglar is long gone. The police feel it is just a prowler that knew that the resident had recently died.

Upon arriving at Haklo Foundation the next morning she is begins to understand that something is definitely wrong at the foundation and that the death was more than likely murder. There have been several minor vandalisms in and around the foundation, disgruntled employees, and the head of the foundation had a very valuable necklace stolen. Who at the foundation would commit these act and murder, too.

With the help of Steve Flynn, a local newspaper reporter, Nela is able to avoid death herself.

A very exciting new series from the very talented Carolyn Hart. Definitely looking to see where Nela is headed next.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on November 23, 2012
Like so many of the other reviewers, I have been a fan of Carolyn Hart's for quite a few years and have read all the books in her other series. I have always found them entertaining, although a bit fluffy. Her newest series, beginning with What the Cat Saw is another light cozy but also somewhat disappointing.

In this book there are plenty of characters to choose from and they are described several times in some detail, giving the book a feeling of redundancy. The cat, Jugs, is not a very central figure and, if he was, it would have made the story a little more interesting. Instead, he's introduced, the main character, Nela, has a psychic connection with him and then he sort of fades into the background, surfacing only occasionally as window dressing.

It became difficult to finish the book, since it seemed like the characters were continually rehashing the same information over and over again and not making much progress. In the end, when they should have been able to see two sides to the same coin, they were still bewildered as to who had committed the crimes. All in all, What the Cat Saw, introduces a potentially great plot line but, for me, the whole thing felt a little flat.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on October 4, 2012
Meet Jugs, a brown tabby with oversized ears. Mostly he does cat things -- eats, sleeps, disappears through the cat door when he wants to go outside for a bit of fresh air. He's a charmer but he doesn't hijack the story. He's just there, being a cat. The difference is that Nela Farley, the protagonist of WHAT THE CAT SAW, reads his mind, and an interesting little mind it is.

When Nela arrives in the small Oklahoma town of Craddock she's running away from her shambles of a life in California. She has lost her job and she has lost her fiancé to a roadside bomb in Afghanistan. Her sister, Chloe, needs someone to fill in for her own job while she and her boyfriend take a week's free vacation in Tahiti. Nela is grateful for the diversion.

She gets more than she bargained for - a cat whose thoughts alert her to a murder made to look like an accident, a fabulous necklace that disappears, reappears and disappears again, and a red-headed reporter who reminds her of old-time movie star Van Johnson.

WHAT THE CAT SAW might be considered a variation on the traditional locked room mystery. Much of the action takes place in the offices and on the grounds of Haklo, a philanthropic foundation headed by the founder's great-granddaughter, Blythe Webster. It's a family enterprise, with succeeding generations piling up money in banking, cattle ranching and oilfield wildcatting.

Chloe's apartment, temporarily Nela's, is on the top floor of a two-story garage behind the Webster mansion. The apartment was formerly occupied by the late CEO of Haklo, who died from a fall down the stairs and left behind her beloved cat, Jugs. Nela picks up the cat's memory that his mistress stepped on a skateboard on one of the steps.

Nela has barely unpacked before an intruder breaks in. After scaring him, or her, away by calling the police, she finds that the intruder completely ignored a fabulous diamond necklace tucked into a purse sitting in plain sight.

Thus begins Nela's introduction to Haklo Foundation, an organization beset by arson, vandalism, destruction of artifacts, obscene material mailed on foundation letterhead - and a missing necklace. Unhampered by local loyalties, Nela suspects everyone on the Haklo staff and quietly begins to check them out. Her every move is tracked by a suspicious cop and an inquisitive reporter.

Carolyn Hart's elegant writing shines in this tightly plotted mystery. There are many characters but Hart is careful to develop each one in memorable fashion. Cat owners will have no problem with the role Jugs plays. As has been said, cats were goddesses in ancient times and they have never let us forget it.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on October 9, 2012
Just finished reading "What the Cat Saw." It was wonderful. Thoroughly enjoyed meeting Nela, Jugs and Steve. Carolyn Hart always introduces her characters so they become your friends and you care about what happens to them. This was a great story and I loved the way Jugs "talked" to Nela!! (His name is perfect, also!) A good story and I hope many more are coming. Thanks, Carolyn!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on October 21, 2012
As a fan of Ms. Hart's other two mystery series, Death on Demand and Henry O, I was looking forward to this first book in a new series, but I have to say I found this book to be disappointing. This is so atypical of Ms. Hart's usual craftsmanship in writing mysteries that I have to wonder what happened?!

Sadly, I figured out who did it way too early in the book, which is not what usually happens when I read one of Ms. Hart's books. The plot was a little thin on the ground.

In her other two series, Ms. Hart was some wonderfully quirky characters that you enjoy learning about as her series unfold. The only quirky character in this book is on vacation in Tahiti the entire time, and you don't even get a fun post card from her. Everyone else was a "stock" character. Even the cat was boring. Writing animals in as characters can be really risky. Especially if you want to have some of the plot hinging on what the cat's character reveals.

The "hook" in this new series is the main protagonist has developed a talent late in life that allows her to get telepathic flashes from cats. Unfortunately, this plot device pretty much comes across as just a plot device. The cat gets kind of plugged in here and there, but it's more to create angst when the character has to reveal what she knows without revealing where she got the information from.

Well, as I said previously, this book was so not up to Ms. Hart's usual high level of quality, that I hope new readers who may have made this their first book of Ms. Hart's won't let that stop them from reading entries in her other two series.

But I guess after writing 25 or more intriguing mysteries with beguiling characters, one weak entry can be forgiven.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on October 4, 2012
Carolyn Hart is one of our finest writers today. Her style is magic and her talent for building suspense leaves me turning pages very quickly. I'll read anything by Miss Hart any day, in my home, office, NYC subways, on vacation.... This book is wonderful.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on October 29, 2013
Carolyn Hart begins a new paranormal cozy mystery series, with her book, What the Cat Saw. Hart's trademark style and character development draws readers into the story of a C.O.O (corporate operating officer) and a fill in employee who gets some information from an unlikely source... the woman's cat. Hart's brand of lighthearted mystery is full of surprises. With an interesting paranormal theme and a great new protagonist in Nela Farley, Hart's new series is bound to strike a cord with readers, from mystery fans to cat lovers!

Let me start by saying that Carolyn Hart has had an outstanding career as a mystery writer. From her Death on Demand series to Bailey Ruth, Hart has thrilled readers from start to finish. She has a way of writing characters that makes them companionable and allows them to turn into old friends that readers want to visit again and again. Her straight forward style and elegant simplicity, lend a sophistication to her books that is not often present in the cozy sub-genre. She is a legend in the mystery community and readers are quick to pick up any new book she releases.

What the Cat Saw is Hart's newest series starter and I for one was really excited to see her starting something new. This book is departure from some of her other books in that it is a little more concentric. The protagonist comes full circle before figuring out the clues that lead to the murderer. Hart starts out with a young grieving woman who takes a chance opening as a fill in for her sister, at a charitable organization in hopes of finding a new start. She recently lost her job as an investigative reporter and her fiancee to an IED in Afghanistan. Nela Farley is a character after my own heart and Hart endears her the reader quickly with her sad memories and her love for her scatter brained sister. This character has a ton of potential with her unusual gift reading the minds of cats she comes in contact with.

One of the things I really enjoyed early on in this book is the heroines skepticism at her own abilities. This is paranormal ability that seems to have originated with the death of her fiancee, and she wonders if she isn't going crazy. I liked the fact that she didn't just accept it out of turn. That would have been too unbelievable. Also I enjoyed the way Hart wrote the thoughts that Nela was gleaning from the felines she came in contact with. The were short spurts of thought, not altogether coherent or fully realized. Exactly what I would expect from a cat. That was a nice touch.

Jugs is an interesting character in his own right, but I felt he was sorely underused. Readers will meet him in the beginning and learn what he has to offer Nela, but then he shifts into a background role. I would have liked to have seen Hart, really allow Jugs to become more than just a filler. There is a lot of potential for Jugs in this book, that I don't think was fully realized. But I also understand that he will not be a character that will be a focal point in the series, just in this particular book, so that may have been the reason of this.

There were other secondary characters who had a lot of potential as well. Steve, the local newspaper writer and even the curmudgeon of a police detective, but none of these other characters really got a lot of time in the story. Hart is known for her great characters and I felt like these were not as developed as the usual for Hart. Readers may feel a little cheated because of this. I would have enjoyed getting to know more about other people who worked for Halko beyond just a cursory scene here and there.

There were several things about this book that didn't quite add up to the normal Carolyn Hart novel. That's not to say that it was a horrible book. It just wasn't what readers have come to expect from Hart. There is still plenty of potential for the series and subsequent books may counter some of the issues with this one. Another issue that stood out for me was the lack of setting and scene. Usually in a cozy mystery the setting is very important. In this novel the action centers around Halko and does not go into great details about the Craddock, Oklahoma town or it's residents beyond the police detective and the newspaperman. I wanted to know more about the area and the people, though I realize that this series is more character concentric than setting dependent.

The characters seem to rehash the facts of the case not once or twice but even three or four times in some cases. That made the book seem somewhat redundant and full of more filler than story line. There was so many ways this story could have gone that I believe would have been much more successful. The author is great storyteller and this book is good, but it's not great. I will definitely be looking to see if the sophomore effort in this series, can redeem it. I think it can and I believe it will. Hart is too good a writer not to rebound from this one.

Some readers may be able to look beyond the cons and see the pros in this one. The great main character, the interesting paranormal twist, the realistic portrayal of the thoughts of a feline. There are good things here, just not enough to pull off the first in this new series book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Out of work investigative reporter Nela Farley, though in denial, can "hear" the thoughts of cats when she looks them in the eye ever since her fiancé died. When her sister, Chloe decides to take a last second vacation with her squeeze Leland in Tahiti, she persuades Nela to fill in for her at the Haklo Foundation. Thus Nela arrives in Craddock, Oklahoma where she stays in the apartment of charity organization's deceased chief operating officer Marian Grant, who recently died in an alleged accident.

Marian's cat Jugs implies his beloved owner tripped on a rolling board on the second step. Though she prefers to ignore what she heard, Police Detective K.T. Dugan conducts a wrongful death investigation and has found anomalies that lead him to suspect Chloe may have committed a homicide since she fled the country in a hurry. Nela using her cat sense looks closely at the others at the Foundation.

With Annie Darling taking a well-deserved respite, Carolyn Hart begins the Nela Farley paranormal amateur sleuth series with a strong opening act. The heroine's uncanny one-way communication skill comes across as genuine partly because of her defense mechanism posture to ignore it as she fears her ability is irrational behavior and partly because of cat-speak somehow seems right. The whodunit is clever as fans will appreciate this enjoyable Dr. Doolittle cozy.

Harriet Klausner
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on October 30, 2012
I have enjoyed Carolyn Hart's other books very much especially Henrie O. What the Cat Saw was at times a slow read for me. I had trouble staying interested in the story. I liked the main character Nela Farley and the location of Oklahoma. I believe it is the first cozy mystery I have read that is based in Oklahoma. There was a large cast of characters/suspects whose positions at Haklo were difficult to keep straight. I think a directory/list at the beginning of the mystery giving the names and titles would have been helpful. Also never really connected with any of the secondary characters. As to Jugs the cat, it wasn't quite what I expected. His first thoughts when he met Nela were important but after that he played a very small part in the book. I was never really hooked into the story so at the end I really didn't care too much as to who committed the crimes. It wasn't obvious to me who the person was as I changed my mind quite a few times as to who I thought the person was.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on November 16, 2012
I've been a fan of some of Hart's past books, but this one should never have been written. It reads like a 1930, black and white, B movie. If you enjoy the scenario of a ball room full of over-dressed old movie stars being questioned by a crusty detective, the lights go out, there is a scream, the lights come on and there is a dead body. Now you've read Hart's book. Repetitious resumes of a hand full of employees, a cat that gives psychic info and runs in and out of a cat door and a ditsy woman who solves the mystery by asking questions no one else can. There is a lot of descriptions of clothing and hairdos....much ado about....boring. This one gets donated to the library...and more money down the drain. Oh well, never again and on to the next author.
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