Thursday, November 22, 2018

ARC Review: Fool's Moon by Diane A. S. Stuckart

Fool's Moon
Author: Diane A. S. Stuckart
Series: A Tarot Cats Mystery
Publication: Midnight Ink (November 8, 2018)

Description: Two tarot-savvy cats and their tenderhearted human outwit a cruel criminal in this animal-centric whodunit.

Most days, Ruby Sparks feels like the sign that says "Tarot Card Reader Extraordinaire" should say "Tarot Card Reader Fairly Competent." But as challenging as it is to take care of her half-sister's New Age shop―and her growing menagerie of enchanted pets―Ruby never worries that she's bitten off more than she can chew...until a customer wants her to divine the truth about a murder.

When her own life is threatened with a double dose of danger, Ruby begins to wonder if she's being played for a fool. Luckily, she has Ophelia and Brandon―sibling black cats with a talent for tarot―and a feisty pit bull friend who all lend a paw in collaring the culprit before Ruby finds herself taking her final cat nap.

My Thoughts: I've read a lot of cozy mysteries where the amateur sleuth had a pet, but this is the first one I've read for a while where the pet, or in this case pets, were the detectives and carried most of the narrative.

Black cats Ophelia and Brandon were the beloved pets of Mrs. Hazel Givens, an elderly Palm Beach socialite, until she was found floating in her swimming pool. Mrs. Givens' son is allergic to cats and gets rid of them by stuffing them in a banana box and dropping them off in a distant part of town. Brandon manages to make his escape by Ophelia almost dies before being rescued by Ruby and her pit bull Zuki. Ruby adopts Ophelia and takes her to live with her in the occult shop she is managing for her older sister.

Ophelia joins Zuki, three roosters that were destined to be animal sacrifices but rescued by Ruby, and a giant psychic koi named Philomena. She is determined to find her missing brother but isn't quite sure how to manage it.

Coincidentally, Luciana who was Mrs. Givens' housekeeper drops in for a psychic reading because she is suspicious about Mrs. Givens' death. Ruby does the reading which doesn't confirm Luciana's suspicions but still raises questions. After Luciana leaves, Ophelia turns over a couple more cards that show Luciana is in danger.

Meanwhile, after a prophecy from Philomena and a dangerous excursion in the neighborhood, Brandon is located in a nearby pawn shop. The owner has taken him in. All three pets find their way to Ruby's. Then Luciana dies and her nephew Luis, who happens to own the pawn shop, comes to see Ruby to find out why a message to her was the last thing on his aunt's phone. Then he spots Brandon and wants his cat back.

Ophelia, Brandon, and Zuki hitch a ride in the back of Luis's truck when he goes to the same area where Mrs. Givens lived so that they can investigate. They are pretty sure that the son is somehow responsible for both death since he was mean to them.

I liked the story but felt that the mystery wasn't resolved as completely as most cozy mysteries I've read. I liked the cats and the dog as main characters. I thought that the author did a good job keeping them realistic in what they cared about and noticed.

The ending leaves it open for Ophelia, Brandon and Zuki to have more adventures.

Favorite Quote:
"You ask me, that's pretty messed up," JoJo declared. Poking a critical finger at the bridal magazine page she was scanning, the blond went on. "Ruffles, on top of lace, on top of beading, on top of more ruffles. Seriously, it looks like a drunken fairy godmother barfed up a dress."

"Definitely goes in the no freaking way pile," Ruby agreed with a grin.
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from the publisher. You can buy your copy here.

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