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Mew is for Murder by Clea Simon
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Mew is for Murder

by Clea Simon

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Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
I'd probably give this one a 2.5 if available. Not very action-packed; in fact, the pace was a little slow at times, but I liked it well enough to keep on going and finish! :-) The price was right, too. (I think it was offered as a Kindle freebie.) It's always good to try a new author, to boot. ( )
  dukefan86 | May 29, 2013 |
Theda Krakow is a 33-year-old freelance journalist in Cambridge, Massachusetts who accidentally stumbles into a dead body. While researching for a story she's writing about a neighborhood "cat lady," she finds the woman dead in her kitchen. The police assure her that the death was accidental, but Krakow -- egged on by her neighborhood barista, Violet -- suspects something more sinister has happened. The journalist, who is fostering one of the kittens found in the cat lady's home, tries to uncover what really happened, all while introducing us to the neighborhood's occupants, the Boston music scene, and the life of a freelance journalist.

For much of Mew Is for Murder, the murder mystery takes a back seat to these secondary topics. Simon writes at length -- too much length -- about the concerts, clubs, and parties Krakow attends and the music she listens to for work and pleasure. A slew of additional characters are introduced, including multiple potential romantic interests, but only Violet is well-developed. Although the novel is billed as being in the ever-growing "cat mystery" genre, don't go into it expecting Lilian Jackson Braun-level feline involvement; whole chapters pass with no appearances made by Musetta, the foster cat.

As a character, Krakow feels dated and immature simultaneously. In her 30s, she's still hanging around college bars, using the slang of another generation and dressing too young for her years. She makes the judgment calls of a teenager, certainly out-of-character for a big-city journalist. (I found myself asking "Why are you doing that?" a lot.) She doesn't evoke any strong sense of connection or appeal for the reader, falling squarely into the "likeable enough" category. In addition, an increasingly unnerving thread of ableism regarding mental health issues becomes more profound as the book goes on -- though it must be stressed that Simon, who has written about growing up with mentally-ill siblings, seems to mean well.

The big "reveal" at the end pushes beyond believability, and even a casually attentive reader will have seen the solution to the if-and-whodunit early in the book. This, of course, is the biggest problem a mystery can have, so good mystery-solvers will probably want to pass on this one; hopefully Simon's storytelling has improved in her subsequent Krakow novels.

Still, due to Simon's talent for writing strong visual descriptions, the mostly interesting peek at the life of a freelancer, and the fact that I never actually stopped wanting to see how things were formally wrapped up, I rate the book generously. I wouldn't re-read Mew Is for Murder, but I haven't been scared off from Simon's writing, and indeed I'm curious to see what she's done with Theda Krakow in her follow-ups.

Review republished from Marginalia. ( )
  JAshleyOdell | Feb 13, 2013 |
After free-lance writer Theda Krakow successfully pitches an article to the editor of the Boston Morning Mail, the elderly woman who was to be the subject of the story dies. It’s Theda who finds the body of Lillian Helmhold in her home, surrounded by a slew of cats she has rescued and cared for. The police believe Lillian’s death was an accident, but the older woman’s young friend Violet believes it was murder. Theda isn’t so sure. But the more she learns about the victim, the more suspicious she, too, becomes.

Thanks to her interest in Lillian and the fate of her cats, Theda is pulling out of a months-long funk. Theda’s sense of loss was brought on by the death of her beloved cat James and, to a lesser extent, by the move of her most recent love interest, Rick, to Arizona. Although Theda opted to stay in her Cambridge MA neighborhood rather than moving with him, that doesn’t keep her from feeling low. Theda’s recovery is helped by Musetta, one of Lillian’s kitten she hid away to keep from being taken to a shelter.

Although I’m not a huge fan of books in which animals play a prominent role, I really enjoyed Mew is for Murder. Clea Simon has created a very attractive heroine in Theda Krakow and the story rings truer than any cozy in recent memory. The author’s portrayal of the ups and downs of making a living as a free-lance writer are quite realistic; I spent years as a newspaper stringer and am in a position to judge. Plus the story moves along with a pleasant rhythm, solid writing and a very satisfying conclusion – leaving readers wanting more.

But what I liked most about Mew is for Murder that it will appeal to younger readers, who will be able to identify with Theda’s situation and appreciate the references to the Cambridge music/club scene, without leaving more mature readers (like me) feeling excluded and – well, old. Clea Simon is the author of non-fiction books about both cats and mental illness. I was very thankful she didn’t feel the need to tell us everything she knows about those topics. She did, however, strike just the right balance by cluing in readers about those topics related to the story without sounding like a lecturer. I can’t wait for the next book in the series.

By Diana, first published in the Cozy Library, February 2006.

Review based on publisher- or author-provided review copy. ( )
  NewsieQ | Jan 20, 2011 |
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SUMMARY: Theda Krakow is in a funk. Her sometime boyfriend's gone for good. The death of her beloved cat opened a bigger void. And the career leap she's made from copy editor to freelance writer has left her financesand her spiritflat. She desperately needs a headline to get her life back on track. One day, out for a stroll in her Cambridge neighborhood, Theda spies an adorable stray kitten. This charmer leads Theda to an old woman holed up in a decrepit house full of cats. Is this one of those "crazy cat ladies," a classic hoarder, or is the old woman a neighborhood do-gooder More important, is this the story to catapult Theda out of the dumps But when she returns to interview Lillian Helmhold, Theda finds her fascinating subject dead of an apparent accident. The neighbors are celebrating, the police aren't interested, and the cats are removed to a shelter. End of story Not for Theda--one or two things don't compute. So Theda marshals her investigative journalism skills to turn gumshoe.
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Theda Krakow is in a funk. Her sometime boyfriend?s gone for good. The death of her beloved cat opened a bigger void. And the career leap she?s made from copy editor to freelance writer has left her financesand her spiritflat. She desperately needs a headline to get her life back on track. One day, out for a stroll in her Cambridge neighborhood, Theda spies an adorable stray kitten. This charmer leads Theda to an old woman holed up in a decrepit house full of cats. Is this one of those ?crazy cat ladies,? a classic hoarder, or is the old woman a neighborhood do-gooder More important, is this the story to catapult Theda out of the dumps But when she returns to interview Lillian Helmhold, Theda finds her fascinating subject dead of an apparent accident. The neighbors are celebrating, the police aren?t interested, and the cats are removed to a shelter. End of story Not for Theda?one or two things don?t compute. So Theda marshals her investigative journalism skills to turn gumshoe.… (more)

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