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Classified as Murder by Miranda James

Classified as Murder (2011)

by Miranda James

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Charlie Harris is on vacation, it is spring break at the college and he is only working a few hours at the local Public Library. When one of his "regulars" approaches him at the Reference Desk Charlie is surprised to hear James Delacorte wants to use Charlie's expertise in dealing with his large and very exclusive book collection. Charlie agrees to help the old man as long as he can bring along Diesel, his Maine Coon cat.

What follows is an amazing story of dysfunctional families, theft, and murder. Diesel help solve part of the puzzle but Charlie and the local police/sheriff are working to find the murderer.

I do love this series. Diesel is a wonderful character and in this book Charlie gets to reconnect with his son, Sean. I'm a little behind on this series so I'm looking forward to the next in the series. ( )
  bookswoman | Oct 9, 2015 |
Classified as Murder
by Miranda James
Berkley Prime Crime, 2011
ISBN 9780425241578 (paperback), 294 pp.

Review date: August, 2015

Librarian Charlie Harris and his Maine coon cat Diesel have returned. In this second book of Miranda James' Cat in the Stacks series, Charlie is hired by local millionaire James Delacorte to inventory his collection of rare books—but the work barely begins before Delacorte is found dead, and Charlie's work becomes even more important, for Delacorte was certain someone was stealing books, and it looks like the thief might have been trying to hide that fact through murder.

Although I didn't care much for the first book in this series, I found the second, Classified as Murder, a slightly more engaging and entertaining read—hardly a masterpiece of mystery writing, of course, but a decent enough cozy mystery meant for quick and easy entertainment. The book introduces Charlie's son, Sean, who has recently quit his job as a corporate lawyer and come to stay with Charlie for a while; a subplot of the story focuses on their confrontation over years of estrangement, along with their eventual reconciliation—but don't expect too much depth out of it; since this is a pretty superficial cozy mystery book, that reconciliation is expected, even mandatory, and wrapped up simplistically. Also simplistic are the characters, mostly one-dimensional as in the previous book, although the members of James Delacorte's eccentric family—all suspects in the case—do have enough quirks to keep them fun and interesting throughout. The writing, too, is pretty simplistic, as seems to be the norm for this author, and Diesel the cat is still pretty gimmicky, if somewhat interesting and likable—although he does actually help in the case this time, albeit accidentally and in something of a deus ex machina way. Even the mystery itself is pretty simplistic, although with just enough complexity to keep readers guessing if their hunches are correct (hint: they probably are).

Because this book was slightly better than the first (thanks to the introduction of a bit of family drama and the quirky murder suspects), and because the series consists (so far) of only six books, I'll probably continue reading it for some light filler when I need it, but I'm certain it's not going to become one of my favorite series, and it's not one I'd really recommend to others, especially if they're looking for something with any real depth or literary quality.



2½ stars: Better than average. Whereas many reviewers tend to be more generous, most works I rate receive two or three stars. At this rating, all my expectations have been met; there are few technical, conventional, or factual flaws, if any, and I found the work to be mildly entertaining and/or sufficiently informative, but it wouldn't be at the top of my list of recommendations. A 2½-star work is better than just "OK" but I wouldn't quite call it "good". Equivalent to a school grade of 'B-', or a little better than average. ( )
  tokidokizenzen | Aug 10, 2015 |
Bless Her Dead Little Heart is the first book in the A Southern Ladies Mystery series.

If the first book is any sign, then this series will be a very entertaining one. Readers first had a chance to read about the Ducote sisters in Out of Circulation, fourth book in the Cat In The Stacks Mystery series by James.

Just as An'gel and Dickce, who are cat sitting Diesel, Charlie Harris' cat. As they are beginning to settle in with their houseguest, Rosabelle Sultan, a former sorority sister who they haven't seen in 15years, comes to their door. She ask the sisters if she can stay a few days, as someone in her family is trying to kill her. Rosabelle has always been one to exaggerate things and they figure this is just another one of those times. But soon the whole family begins to arrive, Rosabelle's two daughters, her son and his wife, two grandsons and a granddaughter. Rosabelle is soon accusing everyone of trying to kill here for her money, the children are in turn making their case that mom is mentally unstable and needs to be committed to a mental health facility. Then, when Marla, the daughter in law slips on water on the marble stair case and falls, breaking her neck, the sisters begin to wonder if she was the intended victim or Rosabelle. So they begin to watch everyones action and report their information to Kanesha the deputy in charge of the investigation.

The sisters are a very fun and interesting couple of ladies. They try and not hurt each others feeling, but are more than willing to share with the reader, their feelings. Clementine, their housekeeper/cook is delight and very flexible with the large influx of guests.

A very fun read and I highly recommend it, especially to the fans of Diesel. Looking forward to the next book. ( )
  FredYoder | May 9, 2015 |
Accompanied by his feline companion, Diesel, Charlie Harris finds himself embroiled in a murder mystery when a wealthy collector of rare books hires him to inventory his collection under the suspicion that some are missing. Harris, mild-mannered librarian, also finds additional difficulties when his son comes into town unexpectedly and under mysterious circumstances.

Though the writing could be a tad stilted at times, and maybe the mystery wasn't quite as polished as Lillian Braun's Cat Who mysteries, Charlie and Diesel are a delightful sleuthing team, and I enjoyed it as a fast, fun read (I will admit to being biased toward cozy mysteries, particularly of this ilk, as I myself work in a library and live with two cats who have never, to my knowledge, helped me solve any crimes). It's not a classic, but perfect for curling up with under a blanket during a rainy day. If you have a cat who chooses to curl up next to you, well, all the better. In short, Classified as Murder upheld the genre's name: it was cozy - a comfortable, diverting read, filled with Southern charm, a precocious Maine Coone, and a librarian who finds himself constantly in over his head.

( )
  kittyjay | Apr 23, 2015 |
As I was about to write my book review for the first two (2) novels in “A Cat in the Stacks” Mystery I read a question from one reader who asked if the series by Miranda James is merely a “rip-off” of Lilian Braun’s “The Cat Who…” series.

A comparison chart would portray...
• Author Lilian Jackson Braun vs. Miranda James (one of the pseudonym names used by author Dean James, a seventh-generation Mississippian that currently works and resides in Houston, TX);
• James Qwilleran (former newspaper reporter) vs. Charlie Harris (librarian);
• Qwill-Divorced and recovering alcoholic vs. Charlie-Widower with a grown son and daughter;
• Koko and Yum Yum (2 Siamese cats) vs. Diesel (1 Maine Coon cat);
• Inheritance from Aunt Fanny of the Klingenschoen fortune provided Qwill lives in Moose County for the next 5 years vs. the inherited old family home from Aunt Dottie who always had college student boarders and the tradition is continued by Charlie.
• Setting of fictitious small town of Pickax located in Moose County "400 miles north of everywhere" (generally accepted to be modeled after Bad Axe, Michigan, where Braun resided with her husband until the mid-1980s) vs. college town of Athena, Mississippi (small, sleepy, Southern town).
• A series of 29 titles (The first novel was written in 1966, with two more following in 1967 and 1968. The fourth appeared eighteen years later, after which at least one new novel was published every year until 2007.) vs. A series of 6 titles to date (05-Apr-2015) with first publication in 2010. The 7th title – “No Cats Allowed” is planned for release around 01-Feb-2016 and is sure to brighten the spirits during a reader’s winter hibernation.

Considering the years of publication, titles in both series are ‘contemporary’ for their time. If you love mysteries and cats that are central to the delight of the main character’s life with unique personalities of their own and wonderful private investigators in their own right, I think you can be thoroughly enamored with both series. The writing styles are distinctive to each author and I can’t wait to read more novels in each series.

This title has copy edit errors that are distracting to me as a reader which is reflected in my star rating as well. I am hopeful for improvement as the series continues. ( )
  Corduroy7 | Apr 6, 2015 |
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In loving memory of my cousin, Terry James (1955-2009), who left us far too soon.
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When I was a boy growing up in Athena, Mississippi, forty-odd years ago, the public library occupied a large one-story house built in 1842.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Aging eccentric James Delacorte asks Charlie the librarian to do an inventory of his rare book collection-but the job goes from tedious to terrifying when James turns up dead. Relying on his Maine Coon cat Diesel to paw around for clues, Charlie has to catch the killer before another victim checks out.… (more)

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