Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Author Carolyn Hart: 86.4 Million and Counting

Being a cat lover, I can’t resist stories that highlight cats. With that in
mind author Carolyn Hart’s latest release was a definite ‘must read’ on my list. I’m delighted today to welcome Carolyn to Thoughts to talk about her new release, WHAT THE CAT SAW.
Carolyn was a child in Oklahoma during World War II. She drew on those memories to write her Agatha Award winning LETTER FROM HOME. Her early memories of huge black headlines in the newspapers led her to major in journalism and work briefly as a reporter before turning to fiction. 

An accomplished master of mystery, Carolyn is the author of the long-running Death on Demand novels. Her books have won multiple Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity Awards. She is also the creator of the Henrie O series, featuring a retired reporter, and the Bailey Ruth series, starring an impetuous, redheaded ghost. 

This time around Carolyn has written about a new protagonist. I’ll let her explain.

86.4 million and counting - that is the number of Americans who are owned by cats. I am one of that happy legion. Why do we love - and obey - cats?

Cats are beautiful, intelligent, graceful, curious. They live in the moment as all good Zen followers should. They know the scents around them, their house, their people, and, if they are outdoor cats, the grass and dirt and woods and trees.

I have loved cats all my life and cannot imagine a home without them. Look into the limpid gaze of your cat. The cat watches you, knows your moods, know if you are happy or sad, knows if you are frightened or upset. You might try to pretend with a cat. You will always fail. You see, the cat knows.

This quality led me to write a novel where everything hinges on a cat’s observations.

After the death of her fiancé in Afghanistan, Nela Farley feels an eerie connection when she looks into the eyes of a cat. She convinces herself she is simply avoiding painful memories, but one night she looks into the eyes of a cat and learns more than it is safe for her to know.

coverWhen Nela first arrives at a garage apartment in a small town in Oklahoma, she is greeted by a grieving brown tabby. She looks in his eyes and is bewildered by his thoughts: She didn't see the rolling board on the step.. That night an intruder breaks in, leaving behind wanton destruction. Nela learns that the woman who lived in the apartment had died in a fall down the apartment stairs.

Nela's flaky sister Chloe is always fun and often in need of a sisterly boost. Nela is a reporter looking for work. She agrees to take Chloe's place at her job so Chloe and her boyfriend can take advantage of a free trip to Tahiti. The Oklahoma landscape is strange to Nela and she finds even stranger the current of hostility at the workplace, a charitable foundation beset with troubles: Arson of an employee's car, destruction of Indian artifacts, vandalism in the courtyard, obscene material mailed on the foundation letterhead, and the late revelation of the theft of a quarter million dollar diamond necklace.

The police detective is a smart, tough woman who sees the stranger in town as an accomplice to her sister in a clever scheme to hide a theft. The local newspaper reporter Steve Flynn knows the cop well, respects her, but finds the new woman in town intriguing. Steve is struggling to recover from an unhappy divorce. Nela had hoped to leave sadness behind in California but finds that she is still burdened by grief. An LA girl she is stirred by Steve's loyalty and love for his hometown - and by Steve.

Nela plunges into an effort to clear her name and her sister's, but the net draws ever tighter and then the cat warns once again, ". . .danger . . ."

I hope readers, especially those who have not yet enjoyed the company of cats, will have a sense of the majesty of these insightful creatures and will understand that cats look and cats know.

Carolyn, thank you so much for joining us today. You are so right about cats and their abilities. They are amazing creatures and I love your creation of Jugs, he’s adorable.

Another note about Carolyn, she is one of the founders of the Sisters in Crime. For more on her and her writing, visit her website at www.carolynhart.com

WHAT THE CAT SAW isn’t the only new release from Carolyn in the past two months. On September 11th, CRY IN THE NIGHT was released as part of the InterMix imprint. Another intriguing read from Carolyn.  

My Thoughts:

I found WHAT THE CAT SAW to be one of those books that holds your attention from beginning to end. It flows at a steady pace making it a quick read and one that draws you in so that you don’t realize how long you’ve been reading when you stop.

The characters are well-developed and very realistic. Problems of modern day - lay offs, green projects, vanishing newspapers, etc. - were incorporated into the story in such a way the reader feels the emotions the characters feel. The story is also filled with mystery, suspense, humor and a good dash of budding romance.

While the idea of hearing a cat’s thoughts might seem a bit paranormal, for any one who has ever been owned by a pet you’ve encountered those moments when you would almost swear you know what they’re thinking. The author captures these feelings in the moments between Nela and Jugs making them plausible. 

In the audio version of this intriguing story, narrator Kathleen Early brings the characters to live. Her animated vocalization gives each character their own unique voice, even Jugs. Her articulation causes the listener to feel the fear and suspense, as well as the flirtation and caring.

WHAT THE CAT SAW is a must read for not only cat lovers, but mystery lovers as well.

What The Cat Saw by Carolyn Hart, Berkley Prime Crime, @2012, ISBN: 978-0425252741, Hardcover, 304 Pages
What The Cat Saw by Carolyn Hart, Read by Kathleen Early, Penguin Audio, @2012, ISBN: 978-1101590133, Unabridged, Digital Downloadable, Listening Time: 9 Hours, 8 Minutes

FTC Full Disclosure - A digital downloadable audio and a copy of this title were sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copies did not influence my review.
Do you enjoy mysteries (or any type story) that involves cats or other pets? Have you ever felt like you could understand what your pet wanted? Thanks so much for stopping by today.


  1. Carolyn, thanks again for joining us today. I hope WHAT THE CAT SAW is the beginning of a new series for you. You have delightful characters here. Wishing you much success.

  2. Mason - Thanks for hosting Carolyn.

    Carolyn - Cats really are fascinating animals on so many levels. No wonder we see so many of them in crime fiction. I wish you much success with this new series!


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