Sleight of Paw by Sofie Kelly.*
It has a librarian as a protagonist, two adorable cats as assistant detectives and hockey. (Okay, so it also has snow, but books involving hockey often do.)
A book doesn't need much more to make this reviewer want to read it. For me to enjoy it, it needs a bit more, like an interesting premise as well as a credible plot and characters. Author Sofie Kelly is successful at proving these in the sophomore volume of the Magical Cats mystery series.
Winter in Mayville Heights, Minnesota is cold and brutal. Librarian Kathleen Paulson's friend Ruby finds an elderly woman, Agatha Shepherd, dead in the parking lot of a local café, but it wasn't due to the cold. It's finally determined that she didn't die of natural causes, but the police aren't sure whether it was an accident or deliberate.
Agatha had been a teacher, and had helped many of her problem students, some of whom were close friends of Kathleen's. And since some of those same friends were suspected to have caused Agatha's death, Kathleen's cats decide that they will help Kathleen determine exactly what happened.
This is definitely a cozy, though not saccharine. As Miss Marple was wont to say, residents of small towns are guilty of greed, envy, and addiction. Those who live in Mayville Heights are no exceptions. In fact, there are enough of these guilty people to make pinpointing the culprit rather difficult.
Kathleen is just leery enough of being regarded as a crazy librarian who talks to her cats to keep their idiosyncracies a secret, and her pleasure at finding a place that feels like home is believable, and the slight paranormal element provided by the cats is charming.
At the end of the volume is the first chapter of the as-yet untitled third book in the series.
Sleight of Paw will be released on September 6, 2011.
*FTC Full Disclosure: Many thanks to the publisher, who sent me a copy of the book for review purposes.