When feeling stressed, there are two types of books I tend to pick up. Most recently I’ve gravitated towards urban fantasy and paranormal romance. Most of them have a good story with a little romance and action but they are light enough to be relaxing. In the past, I almost always picked up a cozy mystery to calm my nerves. So I have a lot of fond memories of these cozies.
Last month, I was walking through Barnes & Noble looking for one of my sanity novels. I saw The Whole Cat and Caboodle in a rack and loved the cover so I pulled it out. (This is why publishers are willing to spend so much on the covers – they can make or break a book’s success. You have to want to pull the book out of the rack.) After reading the synopsis, TWCC went into my ‘buy pile’. Oceanfront setting, small shop, black cat, an old high school flame. This seemed to be just what the doctor ordered.
Did I enjoy it? Yes. Was it something I will remember in a few years? Probably not.
Cozy mysteries are at their best when there is a strong story with characters who are realistic. My favorites have flawed MCs who make mistakes, get angry and are REAL. I think TWCC could have been much better if the MC, Sarah, wasn’t quite so perfect. It seems that everyone likes her (except an old high school friend and it’s clear that their rift was the friend’s fault not Sarah’s.) I don’t care who you are; there are going to be those that just don’t like you. It doesn’t ring true that Sarah has no real enemies.
Sarah is also very close with her grandmother and all of her grandmother’s friends. She hangs out with them. She gives furniture restorations classes for them. She allows them to hang out and be busy-bodies in her shop. Again, this just isn’t realistic. Sarah is a young woman and, in the real world, she might do some of these things but not to this extent. It’s too goody-goody.
There is a clear love interest but many of the other men in town also seem interested in Sarah. This didn’t bother me as it’s pretty typical in a cozy. She’ll probably date one for a while, they will break up and then her true love will express his feelings.
As I’m wrapping up this review, I am realizing that I sound very jaded. My reading preferences go through phases and maybe I am too much into being real right now. I have a good life but it’s hard. I work a lot, have little time for friends (and a harder time trusting them) and almost no time for myself. Maybe the lesson I should learn is that I could strive to be more like Sarah. Hmm….cozy mystery as therapy.
3/5 stars. Good but not great.