Cat Party Continues!
The launch for Cat Conundrum, the 7th Crazy Cat Lady Cozy Mystery, is coming up fast. Cat Conundrum finds our hero, sixty-something cat shelter volunteer Lynley Cannon, on the wild Washington coast with her friend, Special Agent Denny Paris. The pair are all set to give a presentation on shelter cats at a prestigious cat summit. Little do they know they will be confronted with not one, not two, not three, but four bizarre murders!
I thought you might like to read an excerpt.
The sea raged like something undone. From out of the hollow hills came the screech of an animal: a cougar or a wolf. A gull floated in the cold, gray sky above, a winged shadow against the cloud cover. A typical January morning on the wild Washington coast—I found the scene exhilarating.
My name is Lynley Cannon, and as a native resident of urban Portland, it had been a while since I’d traveled into the wilderness. My presence today was a gift, and I was prepared to take full advantage of it.
“Showtime,” came a voice from behind me.
I turned to see my friend and co-panelist, Special Agent Denny Paris, standing in the doorway of the lodge. As my eye traced the stunning lines of the grand, turn-of-the-century inn, I had to confess that maybe this wasn’t the backwoods after all.
“Ready, Lynley?” Denny asked, holding the door for me.
“As I’ll ever be,” I replied, pushing through into the cozy warmth of the lodge’s magnificent conference room. Dutifully I took my place on the stage. I straightened my glasses, folded my hands, and stared at the ever-increasing audience as they, in turn, stared back at me. I glanced at Denny. The young man with his fine features, cat-green eyes, and sandy hair curling from under his blue police cap seemed the epitome of confidence. I wished I had half his aplomb.
As I am an introvert, I was less than thrilled to be the center of attention even though I knew it was for a good cause: cats. I’m all about cats, and the Long Beach Cat Summit promised to be a top-rate event. The special agent and I had chosen to present on the subject of shelter cats. It had sounded like a good idea when we submitted the proposal; now that I sat in the spotlight, I was having some serious second thoughts.
Denny must have picked up on my angst because right on cue, he turned to me and whispered, “You look great, Lynley.”
I didn’t have a mirror, nor did I need one to know what I looked like: a tousled, slightly frumpy, sixty-something cat enthusiast. His compliment was a lie, but a kind lie all the same.
“This is an excellent opportunity to get the word out about cats in the shelter system,” he went on. “I’m glad I convinced you to come along.”
I smiled back, unsure whether I should thank him or do him bodily harm.
The panel hasn’t begun yet, I thought as my trepidation ramped up into near-panic. Still time to make a run for it. I could say I needed to use the bathroom; get a drink of water; retrieve a necessary item from my purse, and then go. Go go go! Denny would figure it out when I didn’t return. He’d make the best of it. They would never even miss me…
My attention was hauled back to reality as a big man in a black uniform lumbered up the steps to the stage. Though probably a bit over the perfect weight for his stature, he carried it straight and tall. His round face held a kindly smile, but his eyes, shadowed by the bill of his hat, were a mystery. Then he pulled the hat off. The smile broadened, and a pair of bright blues lit up as if he knew everyone in the place and was glad to see them.
The room instantly quieted, whether from anticipation of the show or the man’s magnetic personality, I couldn’t tell.
“Welcome,” he said in a deep, rolling basso that matched his figure. “For those of you who don’t know me…” He gave a little chuckle which was echoed throughout the room. “I’m Sheriff Matt Boulder.” The sheriff raised a self-effacing hand to the smattering of applause. “Thank you, thank you, but tonight’s not about me. No re-election speeches, I promise.”
He paused for another bout of laughter. “You kitty-cat folks are in for a treat. For our first panel of the day, I have with me Special Agent Denny Paris from the Northwest Humane Society. Special Agent Paris heads up a team of humane investigators—you may know them better asanimal cops—for our Pacific Northwest area. Besides handling animal abuse and neglect cases, his team works hard to educate our kids about pet care and safety so they grow up treating animals right.”
This time, the applause was enthusiastic. Denny gave a courteous nod, but I was close enough to see his face redden. Maybe I wasn’t the only one who was nervous after all.
“Also we have Lynley Cannon.” The sheriff peeked at an index card in his hand. “Cat expert from Friends of Felines Cat Shelter over in Portland. Besides being a longtime cat shelter volunteer,” he read off the page, “Ms. Cannon fosters cats and has several cats of her own, including a registered therapy cat that she takes into assisted living communities. Lynley is here to tell us about her experiences.”
The applause rolled around to me, polite and optimistic. I gave a little wave and fiddled with my pen, hoping that when it came my turn, I wouldn’t freeze, pass out, or toss my cookies.
* * *
All went well. The hour sped past with Denny speaking about his investigations and me chatting about cats. People asked the usual questions. How many cats do you have? (Eight.) What’s it like to volunteer at a cat shelter? (Fun and exhausting.) How do you keep from adopting them all? (Willpower and knowing they will get a good home with someone else.) And the inevitable Why does my kitty pee on the carpet, linoleum, bathtub, pillowcase, or boyfriend’s new boots? (See your veterinarian to rule out a medical cause, then look for behavioral issues.) I didn’t freeze, faint, or embarrass myself with inadvertent bodily functions. In fact, once I got over the initial stage fright, I quite enjoyed it. I was almost sorry when it came to an end and Sheriff Boulder stepped up to the microphone once more.
“We have time for one last question,” he announced.
Several hands went up, but before he could choose, a man at the back of the conference room stood. Pulling the beat-up ball cap off his head, he choked it in his restless grip as he made a query that changed everything.
“What’s being done about the murder?”
Tyler had some unexpected help choosing this week’s winner, but he and Blaze finally agreed: the winner of this week’s giveaway is Leah. Leah has won an advance reader copy of Cat Conundrum! Congratulations!
New Contest Starts Now!
Next, I’m offering an iSuperb Pack of 4 Canvas Coin Purse Wallets. These are so cute! The purses are lightweight and durable, perfect to hold your little belongings, coins, cash, credit card, USB charger, cable headset, keys, lipstick or ???.
For a chance to win, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and put Contest, Coin Purse in the subject line. Tyler the cat will choose the winner at random from the entries received. Sorry, U.S. addresses only. Drawing October 25th, 2020.
Cat Conundrum launches on National Cat Day, October 29th, 2020!
From now until October 29th, stay tuned for more cat info, excerpts, and giveaways. Be sure to pounce on over to my new Facebook group, Cozy Cat Writers & Readers, which will be the Cat Conundrum Launch Central. I created this page for readers and writers of cozy cat fiction to find each other. Look for your favorite cozy authors there.
Cat Conundrum is the 7th book in the Crazy Cat Lady Cozy Mystery series, but don’t worry—books need not be read in order. As with all the Crazy Cat Lady Cozy Mysteries, cat tips, tricks, and facts at the beginning of each chapter!