Black Cat Crossing by Kay Finch


County of Offense

Somewhere in the Hill Country 

Charges

Murder, Breaking and Entering, Vandalism, Not-Quite-Hindering an Investigation, Suspicious Activity, Snooping in Pickups

Priors

Relative Chaos
Final Cut
Final Decree

Known Gang Affiliations

Berkley 

Date of Offense

First Book September 2015
(Most recent, Black Cat Sees His Shadow, June 2017)

Arresting Officer

William Dylan Powell

Just because I'm a six-foot-tall, 250+ pound man—with a shaved head and a beard and a black pickup truck with a Pantera sticker on the back—doesn't mean I can't appreciate a nice cozy now and then. I'll admit there's not usually a cat cozy on my nightstand. But you can’t write a blog about Texas crime stories without giving respect to the Lone Star State’s many cozy authors. These men and women work hard to represent our great state well in a genre that’s beloved by millions across the English speaking world (and also Texas).

Black Cat Crossing takes place in the charming fictional Hill Country hamlet of Lavender, Texas. Houstonian and former law firm employee Sabrina Tate moves to Lavender to help her Aunt Rowe manage a set of Hill Country cottages she rents out to tourists. While out there Sabrina’s also trying to write that Great American Novel.

The town is aflame with superstitious rumors about a bad luck cat that’s been causing chaos around town (some say for thirty years, which is really quite impressive). Tate finds and befriends the cat, who she eventually names Hitchcock. One day when she’s following the mysterious cat around the woods on her Aunt Rowe’s property she stumbles upon the body of black sheep relative Bobby Joe Flowers. And her feisty Aunt Rowe becomes the prime suspect.

As the story unfolds, Black Cat Crossing takes readers along a series of artful twists and turns that bring in ANOTHER murder that’s taken place in the EXACT SAME SPOT, a town filled with superstitious gossip, a hunky game warden, some sketchy locals, a mysterious investigator, baked goods, a lucky shot at a big-time literary agent, secrets from the past, tourists, an abrasive detective, plenty of amateur sleuthing done right and, of course, lots of adorable black cat squee.

Author Kay Finch knows her craft. Not only is she a great writer, but she knows what people love about these books and builds the story for maximum impact. Readers find themselves enjoying mischievous cat encounters and trying to figure out what's going on while simultaneously soaking up both the cozy Hill Country atmosphere and tension Finch creates along the way. Hitchcock the Bad Luck Cat becomes Sabrina Tate’s copilot in solving the mystery, and the reader’s friend as well.  

I bought a copy of this book for my wife, too. A few months ago she made me buy an overpriced bag of cat chow for a pregnant stray cat at a gas station somewhere around Hillister. We left it stuffing its face behind the building with a pile of cat food that towered over the poor thing like a Caddo burial mound. We probably gave it diabetes. I have two cats and a dog. One cat, Snickers, is twenty and all out of fucks to give. The other cat, Minou, hates me and walks out of the room whenever I walk in. If I die in my sleep, it will eat my eyes and never think of me again.

Another thing I appreciate about the book is the balance of characters. Many cozies written for a largely female audience portray every single male in the story (who is not the square-jawed-but-sensitive love interest) as a football-loving, cleavage-staring, crass-talking, uncommunicative, illiterate, pizza-scarfing, beer-gutted ex-frat-bro suffering from arrested development. This is, of course, offensive and ridiculous. I mean, believe it or not there are actually men who don’t eat pizza. You know, carbs. But Kay stays clear of these stereotypes with a range of likable and believable characters of all kinds--all with strong characterization, a twisty plot and a lot of small town Texas flavor.

I totally see the appeal of cozy mysteries. Sometimes you don’t want a punch-you-in-the-face reminder that the world can be a hot, nihilistic mess that’s got it in for us all. Sometimes you just want the feeling that everything will work out OK and here's an oversized cup of coffee and there's trouble but, you know, we'll get through it together and hey, check this out, an adorable cat. 

Cat cozies have a widespread fan base with an absolutely insatiable appetite for authors who do them well. Heavy hitters in the genre include Rita Mae Brown, Dean James, Leann Sweeney, the late Lilian Jackson Braun, Sofie Kelly and Sofie Ryan, Laurie Cass and many others. After three hard-hitting titles Kay Finch has certainly earned a renowned place among the fat cats in this popular genre.

Black Cat Crossing is the first of the Bad Luck Cat Mysteries. The second in the series is Black Cat Knocks on Wood and Black Cat Sees His Shadow is the third. Ms. Finch grew up on a farm in Pennsylvania and lives in Houston, but her spirit home is the Texas Hill Country. And her love of the place shows through in her work. Black Cat Crossing has all of the elements of a classic cat cozy, all crafted with mastery to sock you right in the feels. And it does it all with authentic Texas Hill Country style.  

Verdict:
Guilty of adorable intrigue 

 
This cat hates my fucking guts. 

This cat hates my fucking guts. 

 
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