Novel Way DieA Novel Way to Die by Ali Brandon is the second book in the “Black Cat Bookshop” mystery series. Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime, November 2012

Darla Pettistone may have inherited her great aunt Dee’s Brooklyn bookstore, but it’s the store’s mascot—an oversized black cat named Hamlet—who acts like he owns the place. And when someone turns up dead, Hamlet smells something rotten in Brooklyn.

As the owner of Pettistone’s Fine Books, Darla is settling nicely into her new life, even reaching an uneasy truce with Hamlet. Unfortunately, when she needs to hire a new clerk, the finicky feline decides to lend a paw to the hiring process. He chases away applicants who don’t meet his approval, finally settling on an unlikely candidate: Robert, a book-loving Goth kid who has a secret only Hamlet knows.

And Hamlet can’t seem to stay out of trouble. One of the bookstore’s regular customers, a man who is renovating a local brownstone, claims he’s seen Hamlet prowling the neighborhood. When the man’s business partner is found dead, Darla discovers that Hamlet may have been the only witness to what could be murder. With the crafty cat’s help, she wonders if they just might be able to pounce on a killer.

This was a good read that kept me turning the pages. The author did a great job in keeping me suspense as to the identity of the killer and I loved how the story flowed towards that conclusion. Hamlet plays a pivotal role in this book and I enjoyed the results of his action. It was fun following along with Darla as she read the clues that Hamlet left and what she gleamed from other sources. I love the friendship she has with Jake, James and her newest employee, Robert who is such a sweetheart and an added bonus. The backdrop of a bookstore makes a great setting for this group and I can’t wait to see what happens in the next book in this terrific series.

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