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Book Review: Meow Mayhem

Meow Mayhem. Lisa Lickel. Prism Books, an imprint of Pelican Ventures LLC, January 25, 2019, Trade Paperback and E-book, 256 pages.

Reviewed by Sue Merrell.

If you like your mysteries nice and cozy, curled up and quiet like a sleeping cat on your lap, then you may enjoy Meow Mayhem, the first book in a new series by Lisa Lickel. 

Of course, as any cat owner knows, a purring feline can disguise sharp claws and a lightning-fast pounce. It’s knowing that the power is there, but controlled, that makes a sleeping cat so beguiling. 

Meow Mayhem unfolds in Apple Grove, Illinois, a sleepy little town about two hours from Chicago. We soon learn there’s more than church gossip and city council complaints percolating in this little burg. 

The heroine, Ivy, has recently moved her tech business there from the Chicago suburbs after breaking up with her fiancée. She makes friends with Adam, who has opened a branch of his Chicago-area coffee shops in Apple Grove. Both have been lured to the little town by development grants promised by Mayor Donald Conklin. 

The mayor is missing and soon found dead, though the cause is a bit mysterious. While the mayhem that ensues is mostly little stuff—a pickpocket, a smoke bomb, arson—the underlying motives are big bucks and corruption. Ivy’s mother, who teaches criminology at a junior college, comes to visit and assigns several students to investigate the mayor’s death as a class project. This is a handy device that reveals all sorts of comments, clues, and town secrets.

The three main characters—Ivy, Adam, and Donald—each own a Mau cat, a rare spotted domestic breed that comes from Egypt. This is a delightful detail for a cat fancier like myself, but I hoped to learn more about the cat personalities and behaviors. The felines make only minor appearances, at least until late in the book, where they are featured more prominently.

The publisher, Prism, is an imprint of the Pelican Book Group, a Christian publisher that wants to “entertain readers with fiction that uplifts the gospel.” Ivy and her friends are people of faith who pray when they face problems and make room in their schedules for regular Sunday worship and bible study groups. They discuss ethical concerns effectively without getting preachy.

The growing romance between Adam and Ivy is sidetracked by a mysterious secret admirer, which actually becomes a viable alternative. As you might expect, the tale has a happy ending, but the resulting relationship seemed to lack good communication and mutual respect.

In Meow Mayhem, author Lisa Lickel has established some strong main characters surrounded by a likable supporting cast that could well figure into a series of mysteries in Apple Grove.


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