When she inherits a pet shop and a house from her aunt at right about the same time a TV series she had a long-running role in is cancelled, Shell McMillan decides to throw in her acting career and settle into a quiet life following in her aunt’s footsteps. No sooner does she arrive in Fox Hollow, Connecticut, though, than she’s getting into a confrontation over a museum turning down the opportunity to display some memorabilia her aunt owned, and then the woman she argued with turns up dead.
There’s a potential love interest in the form of a hunky detective and some fluffy sidekicks, two cats, one of whom is rather helpful when it comes to finding clues to solve the mystery, but even they couldn’t distract from the fact that Shell is a total diva. She massively overreacts to the museum board saying ‘thanks but no thanks’, having confrontations with four different people over it on pretty much her first full day in town instead of just saying ‘okay’ and moving on with getting the pet store reopened. I read an ARC of this book and a couple places later on the store had a very different name which made me think perhaps it started out as a movie memorabilia store and got changed later, in which case her reaction might have been more understandable because it would be a business issue. As it is, it reads like a total overreaction and Shell being a diva just because she’s used to getting her own way.
There’s a very large cast of characters - at one point I think there are nearly a dozen suspects in the murder - for a pretty short book, and it’s way too cluttered. Consequently, it really stood out to me that every character - EVERY SINGLE CHARACTER - in this book is white, straight and fully abled. This is my second cozy mystery in a month with no diverse representation whatsoever, and once again, there were so many places where it would have been easy to include diversity. Shell herself being biracial would have included so many more dimensions to the mystery, and having her former co-star Gary be gay would have been ridiculously simple - maybe stereotypical, but honestly, I’d rather a stereotype than no representation at all. At least I’d believe the author was trying, as opposed to simply showing their unconscious preferences for a world completely lacking in diversity.
This isn’t even a particularly good read because Shell is such a diva, and the complete absence of diversity pulls it down even further. I can’t give it any more than two stars.
The Time for Murder is Meow is available now.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for review via NetGalley.