The first in the Nick & Nora Mystery series, Meow if it’s Murder is a cozy murder mystery by T. C. LoTempio told in first person (excepting the prologue). Nora Charles—whose parents were big fans of The Thin Man, a classic mystery series—gets adopted by an unusually intelligent tuxedo cat who belonged to a now-missing PI. Nora’s best friend Chantal names the cat Nick and the name sticks. And together, Nora and Nick start investigating the missing PI’s last case.
1—The Cat is Magic
Or a disguised alien, for those of a more sci-fi bent of mind. But between Chantal’s claims to be psychic and her Tarot card readings, the setting feels to me like it supports a more magical explanation. This isn’t a fantasy series though—at most, Nick’s abilities fall into the maybe-magic-maybe-mundane trope. But I don’t buy the mundane aspect. That cat is far too human-like intelligent, so I’m calling it magic. That’s ok for me though, I’m willing to buy into the book’s central conceit, however unlikely in “real” life it would be.
2—Instant Romance, Just Add Hunk
What I’m not buying the insta-lust between the heroine and the Hunky Detective ™, Daniel Corleone. It doesn’t take over the book at least, but for me it’s a distraction rather than a bonus. I’d love to see more purely antagonistic but respectful (if grudgingly) relations between opposite sex characters in such roles. It’s not that there’s anything inherently wrong with the romance/lust subplot, I’m just not interested in it. They’re hard to do well and easy to do ok or badly. And the lust-at-first-sight trope is just so done to death that I’d love to see it actually die for a while.
3—The Mystery Itself
I enjoyed the mystery. I’ve mentioned before that I’m not the type who tries to beat the fictional detective to the solution, but I do pick things up. And while I figured out a few clues ahead Nora—one of them annoyingly so—I mostly was surprised, in the good way. Though Nora took forever to figure out that Detective Hunk is actually with the FBI, it was only mildly annoying. Mostly she picks things up pretty fast.
Exactly what a Cozy Mystery should be, light and fun and a good riddle, with a satisfying ending. Lots of adverbs make for a conversational tone, but I think that’s ok. I’ve been trained to be critical of adverbs (-ly words) but that just seems to be the author’s voice, or possibly Nora’s, as the prologue from the murder victim’s POV doesn’t have as many. Overall, it’s a good book and I’d recommend it.