12 December 2013.
The cat does play a key role, but only insofar as it opens the protagonist’s eyes to one vital clue that no one else has picked up. My natural scepticism was assuaged by the lead character’s own dubiousness over whether she was following the cat’s eye view or her own instincts, and enough other evidence piled up to ensure that the solving of the mystery didn’t rely too heavily on feline observation.
Cat’s eye view aside (and on balance it does add an extra dimension, though the narrative could be made to work perfectly well without it), What the Cat Saw is a well-crafted mystery with plenty of skilful misdirection, and a colourful cast of characters, even the most minor of whom is sharply drawn. The beautiful headquarters and internal politics of the charitable form an excellent and vividly portrayed background, and the budding romance between Nela and Steve is handled subtly.
Carolyn Hart is a prolific author, well-known in the USA but unfamiliar to me. It’s always good to find new names to look out for, and better still to be proved wrong when the first taste of an author’s work doesn’t seem to be entirely appealing at the outset. Hart clearly knows her craft; lovers of cosy mysteries will find much to enjoy in her work. Despite my early reservations, I certainly did.