FIRST CHAPTERS: Cat’s Paw
I’ve been lucky enough to have visited both the San Juan Islands and a prestigious animal sanctuary that at one time held art retreats. Combining those two elements into Lynley’s latest scene of murder(s) seemed the obvious thing to do.
When I was writing this story, I knew from the first moment who the killer was— so of course I had to change it. Get to know more about Lynley’s past in our cat lady’s 4th adventure.
For cat-lovers who like clean mysteries with a little bite to them. Cat tips, tricks, and facts at the beginning of each chapter.
Cat’s Paw, the 3rd Crazy Cat Lady Cozy Mystery
When cat shelter volunteer Lynley Cannon attends an elite creative retreat at the prestigious Cloverleaf Animal Sanctuary in the San Juan Islands, she gets more than a lesson in art. Accused by vigilantes of a shocking double homicide, she persuades them of her innocence and runs home to Portland, but murder follows in her wake.
Then suspicion falls on a dear friend. Can Lynley fight through fear, assault, and her own anxiety disorder to keep from becoming a victim herself?
Praise for Cat’s Paw
“Starting Cat’s Paw is a lot like a kitten tapping a colorful ball of yarn—soon a claw is caught and there’s no letting go until the whole thing is unwound… A fun read for all you wanna-be cat ladies and mystery fans.” —Ann Littlewood, author of the Zoo Mystery series.
“Cats, art and murder. What more could anyone ask?” — Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, 1989 Nebula Award winner for best novel, author of the Purranormal Mysteries, the Tale of Barque Cats series (with Anne McCaffrey) and many more.
The walls are gray.
Gray like wet cement.
Gray like oblivion.
The floor is tile, the industrial kind.
Toward the edges, dark grime is imbedded
like oily worms.
There are no windows; it is a basement.
I count the holes in the acoustic ceiling tiles,
then I count them again,
The British proverb, “Curiosity killed the cat” warns that being inquisitive may bring trouble. The rejoinder, “satisfaction brought it back,” tells the rest of the story. Cats exist in a constant state of tension between caution and curiosity. As long as they don’t know, they will be drawn to discovery. Once knowing is achieved, the game is over and the cat can move on to something else.
I’ve been called a crazy cat lady all my life, but I never knew what crazy was until now. Languishing in this dingy hole, knowing my freedom is in the well-meaning but inept hands of amateurs, I fear I shall lose my mind. The options are simple: I could be released or I could be arrested. If released, I put the debacle behind me; if things go the other way, well, that’s where it gets really crazy. I would need a lawyer; I could go to trial. I could be convicted, sentenced, and sent to prison. You know I didn’t do it. I’m a cat shelter volunteer, for goodness sakes! I’m not a killer.
I have to laugh—the thing I regret the most in this gray limbo of incarceration is not the fear of an uncertain future; not the anger at being judged without proof; not even the horror of what’s going on outside that basement door. It’s the absence of cats. The absence of my cats.
My name is Lynley Cannon, and on any normal day, I would be helping out at my local cat shelter, visiting with my lovely and intelligent granddaughter, researching my labyrinthine Scottish ancestry, or enjoying some other innocuous pursuit. Since I am retired, my time is my own. There is little I cannot do as long as I plan it properly with no heavy lifting and many convenient bathroom stops. I hadn’t realized how accustomed I’d become to that freedom until it was so rudely ripped away from me.
As with the cats I so love, I possess an innate curiosity which makes my life both interesting and adventurous. At sixty, however, adventure poses certain risks. Circumstances that would have been in past decades fun and athletic could now land me in the hospital. Yet I persevere. I rush in without considering the consequences. It is my nature.
That’s how I came to be at the Cloverleaf Animal Sanctuary Annual Art Retreat. I’m not an artist but I have always wanted to visit the celebrated shelter located on its very own island among the beautiful San Juans in Northwest Washington state. When the opportunity arose, thanks to an old school friend who happens to run the program, I jumped on the it like a cat on catnip.
Though most of the other participants were younger, more extroverted, and certainly more creative than I was, we all got along like kittens in a clowder. By the second day, it was as if we’d known each other forever, and I figured we’d stay in touch long after the retreat was over, Facebook friends if nothing more. Only one among them had rubbed me the wrong way, a bitter, spiteful woman who had no business being there in the first place since she seemed neither artistic nor sociable. But now she was dead, and I was locked in the basement until the storm died down and the police could make their way across the heaving waters.
How had this happened? Where had things gone wrong? One moment there was as much camaraderie as at a hippie love-in—and I should know, having been there and done that—the next, only fear, hatred, and this howling Northwest thunderstorm. There would be lots of time for contemplation since it didn’t look like I was going anywhere soon.
Twas really good!
We thank you!
Loved this adventure. Great read, and lovely addition to the series,
ERin & Mrs H