There’s room for everyoneThe title of this delightful blog had us thinking. So we’ll say it up front: we’re dog people. And we can’t imagine life or one of our mysteries without a dog or two to cuddle up, bark at the bad guy or join our sleuth on a midnight snooping escapade.
We love cats too, of course, but some of our relatives have serious kitty allergies, so we have to confine our felines to fiction. In real life, there are three nice ones next door who keep trying to walk into the house where two miniature dachshunds are sleeping on the sofa. But that, as they say, is a story for another day.
Our book collector mysteries always show Walter the Pug on the cover. He looks great on these covers, in our opinion. He is joined by Cobain, a shaggy dog who often seems to be visiting. Cobain never rates a cover, alas. Nevertheless, both these dogs are essential to the book collector mysteries and do their work to advance the plot.
Still, dogs or not, mysteries about books seem to require cats. It seems just wrong and incomplete not to have them. So the book collector mysteries have Siamese, a pair of them. They belong to Vera Van Alst, the curmudgeonly book collector and the most hated woman in Harrison Falls, N.Y. As with all cats, it didn’t take long before the distinctive elements of their personalities became clear. It should have been quicker for our sleuth, Jordan Bingham, and she’s still having trouble telling them apart. She did nickname them “Good Cat” and “Bad Cat”.
Good Cat is affectionate, friendly and always up for a snuggle. Then there’s Bad Cat. Jordan has learned the hard way to wear her high boots to dinner in the grand dining room in Van Alst House. She has the scratches to remind her of the times she forgot.
We think this is good news. As readers, we experience books through our senses: readers need to see, hear, smell, feel and taste what’s going on. Cats and dogs can really help with that. The sound of a purr adds so much to a scene, as does a sudden high-pierced shriek (see high boots, above). Barking can be used to alert us to danger or to reveal our whereabouts to the bad guy.
Then there’s the wonderful feeling of fur as we stroke a warm and affectionate body. Doesn’t that give depth to a scene? Yikes. Anyone got a bandage?
Now that we’ve had cats in our mysteries, there’s no turning back for us. We’ll have to have them always. Even if in The Wolfe Widow a pair of dogs and a pair of cats might have accidentally ended up in the same room in the same scene. Oops, it wasn’t Jordan’s plan and it wasn’t a good one, but it did give us lots of satisfying noise, drama and suspense. In case you’re worried, no cats or dogs were harmed in that scene, although feelings ran high. Ahem.
As for us, we’re enjoying this menagerie and we see lots of possibilities for the future.
What about you? Does a book need a cat? A dog? Both? Neither? Please weigh on and let the fur fly.
About the book: As Thanksgiving approaches, Jordan Bingham is grateful for her job researching rare books for Vera Van Alst, the infamous curmudgeon of Harrison Falls, New York. But when an uninvited guest makes an appearance, much more than dinner is disrupted—and Jordan is thankful just to be alive
Vera Van Alst doesn’t normally receive visitors without appointment, but she agrees to see the imperious Muriel Delgado upon arrival. Shortly thereafter, Jordan is told that her position is being terminated. Evicted from the Van Alst House, Jordan is determined to find out what hold Muriel has over her erstwhile employer.
It seems Muriel has designs on Vera’s money and property—not to mention a particular interest in her collection of Nero Wolfe first editions. When Jordan discovers a deadly connection between Muriel and the Van Alst family, it’s up to her to put the house in order and stop a killer from going back to press.