(Cover picture courtesy of The BunsyDawg Diary.)
What can go wrong when an elderly matriarch leaves the family fortune to her cat? Just about everything, including ‘catnapping’ and murder! CATNIP is a mystery set in the picturesque town of Dunbarton, Ontario, and tells the story of what befalls the dysfunctional Dunbar family, and the chaos that ensues, when the matriarch of the clan leaves the family fortune to her cat. That formidable feline proves to be more than a match for the humans in his life, until one fateful night when, caught unawares, he is stuffed in a sack and carried away. A nosy neighbor with a nasty, suspicious mind points the finger of suspicion at the Dunbars and Christopher Mallory, the young attorney who is the trustee of the estate, and under the terms of the will, they face losing everything. When a murder occurs, Christopher finds himself confronting a ruthless killer who would do anything to conceal his or her identity, including to kill again.
[Full disclosure: I received a free ebook copy from Valerie Tate in exchange for an honest review.]
I’ll admit that I was more than a little skeptical about this book. I mean, mystery novels really aren’t my thing in general but such a cliché-sounding novel definitely didn’t sound like my thing. Still, I gave it a try because I’ll give practically any book a chance.
Imagine my surprise and delight when Catnip was nothing like I expected! Sure at first the Dunbar family seems like your typical dysfunctional rich family, but they do actually grow out of that mould. Alice, the constantly complaining but beautiful wife actually grows up a bit after Amanda Dunbar (the grandmother) dies and she’s allowed to be free. James Dunbar grows out of his role as the henpecked, spineless husband and takes charge in his business which until that point had been doing poorly. And Alicia stopped waiting for her prince charming, waking up from her daze.
Chris, the sort of main character, also changes quite a bit from his role as impersonal lawyer and executor of Amanda Dunbar’s estate. At first his relations with the Dunbar family were tense to say the least, but I was so happy to see him grow out of that role as he began to see things from their perspectives as well. Marmalade the cat behaves like a typical cat, leading me to believe that Valerie Tate either owns or used to own a cat (as much as one can ‘own’ a cat).
Not only did I get a kick out of the characters and how they all grew, I absolutely loved the plot. In the beginning I thought I would easily be able to predict the end because it sounded a lot like other catnapping mysteries having to do with inheritance. I was wrong! Thankfully, Valerie Tate mostly stayed away from clichés and put her own twists on the ones she did use. Trust me, it will be hard to predict the ending after the twists and turns she puts you through. Overall, Catnip was an unpredictable whirlwind and if you do pick it up (which I highly recommend) you won’t be able to put it down.
I give this book 5/5 stars.