When librarian Charlie Harris' daughter is falsely accused of murder, he and his faithful feline Diesel must leap forward to crack the case in this all-new installment in the New York Times bestselling series.
Charlie Harris has sworn off investigating murder and mayhem after a recent close call. Instead, he's delighted to cheer on his daughter, Laura, who's starring in a production of Careless Whispers. The theater department at Athena College is debuting the play written by a fledgling playwright with local connections and Charlie's son-in-law, Frank Salisbury, will be calling the directorial shots.
Laura is upset to learn that Luke Lombardi, an overbearing actor she knew from her time in Hollywood will also be taking part in the production as a guest artist. Lombardi arrives with an entourage in tow and promptly proceeds to annoy everyone involved with the production. When he collapses and dies on stage, after drinking from a glass Laura handed him, she becomes the chief suspect in his murder.
Charlie knows his daughter is innocent, and he's not going to let anyone railroad his little girl. So, despite his intentions to put his amateur sleuthing days behind him, Charlie has to take center stage, and with Diesel's help, shine a spotlight on the real killer.
Careless Whiskers is the 12th book in the Cat in the Stacks cozy mystery series written by Miranda James. I've previously read all of these books plus another full series in the author's canon. It is one of my favorite series, and I'm thrilled to share my thoughts on this latest one. The series revolves around librarian Charlie Harris, who lives in Athena, Mississippi and has two grown children. He's dating a woman who runs a bistro in town, and he works on a college campus. Between his cat Diesel and a few other friends, they usually figure out who killed the victim in each book. Sometimes, they get a little too close for their own good too.
In this caper, Charlie's daughter is acting in a theater performance with a famed Broadway actor she used to know. Her husband is the director, and when the new star's entourage arrives, all craziness breaks loose. The star aggravates a lot of people, and he has a connection to several folks in town. When the playwright shows up... I mean when all of them show up, things get even more confusing. It's up to Charlie to help protect his daughter, as she looks way too guilty. We all know she didn't do it, but the story takes us all over to figure this one out!
This series is just as strong as it was in the beginning. The characters are fleshed out nicely, and we have visits from my favorite Ducote sisters (they always steal the story). Charlie's friendships are tested, and he must balance what he wants to do versus being an overprotective father. As the mystery unfolds, we see lots of side arcs, but figuring out which one is pertinent to the murder is definitely difficult. I loved the French theme included in this book, and the ending is quite a nice surprise. Only... what does it mean for the future?
I highly recommend this series, and this book is one of the stronger ones. Although the murder doesn't happen right away, things keep you very focused on the drama, and when it does occur, it's a shocking place. Can't wait to see what others think!
Miranda James has done it again with this charming cozy series with a cat and librarian as main characters. I read this on a chilly, cloudy day, perfect for a cozy mystery. While I love Charlie, Diesel is at the center for me. I just love how James writes his character. It’s nice to take a break from thrillers and read a mystery every once in a while.
Thank you to the publisher for the complimentary copy.
This spring, Athena College’s theater department is debuting a new play from a local playwright. Charlie Harris is looking forward to it since his daughter, Laura, is going to star in it, and her husband, Frank, is the director. While most of the cast and crew are college students, the college is bringing in a big name for Laura’s co-lead – Luke Lombardi. Unfortunately, he is arrogant, rude, and demanding. And those are his good qualities. Soon he is irritating many people in town. He is also the victim of some pranks, but when things turn deadly, Laura finds herself in the spotlight as a suspect. Charlie has sworn off sleuthing after a recent close call, but with Laura’s reputation and freedom on the line, he and his Maine Coon cat, Diesel, begin searching for the real killer. Will they be able to clear Laura?
Fans are in for another great ride with this book. As if often the case, the murder takes place later in the book, but the time it put to good use introducing us to suspects, motives, and red herrings. I was never bored, and kept turning pages until Charlie figured everything out. All the characters we love are here, both two legged and four legged, and they are a delight as usual. The suspects are strong as well. I continue to enjoy watching how the police are portrayed in this series as smart and competent. This book will please Charlie and Diesel’s many fans and even earn them new ones.
Careless Whiskers (Cat in the Stacks #12) by Miranda James.
This latest addition to the Cat in the Stacks series exemplifies my cheerful return in reading this book. Miranda James' (Dean James) technique has delighted readers with Charlie Harris and Deisel in each mystery. I, being chief among them. The pattern may appear to be repetitious at the start but the manner of approach is unique as one reads on. The characters play an important role in solving this whodunnit and are a most welcome part of the story. Charlie's daughter, Laura, and Son-in-Law, Frank, are together in an exciting first for them both. A play is being directed by Frank and will be starring Laura. A problem arises when the leading man was a thorn in the side of Laura during a past acting endeavor. Unfortunately, it appears that Luke Lombardi has not moved on from his repulsively egotistical personality. And then the unspeakable happens. Add this new Cat in the Stacks story to your list of must-read books and put it at the top.
Careless Whiskers by Miranda James is the twelfth A Cat in the Stacks Mystery. It can be read as a standalone courtesy of the background information provided by the author. Charlie Harris and Diesel are back along with the adorable Ramses. Charlie has sworn off investigating after a close call, but, when his daughter is in the line of fire, he must dive in once again. Luke Lombardi is the guest actor for the performance of Careless Whispers written by a local playwright using the name Finn Zwake. Luke has an ego the size of Texas and an insufferable attitude to go with it. Laura and Luke have a series of altercations during the week of rehearsals with Laura stating more than once that she would “kill” him if he did such a thing again (she was frustrated). When Luke ends up dead on the stage after drinking from the glass handed to him by Laura, she finds herself at the top of the suspect list. Charlie knows his daughter is innocent and begins nosing around searching for answers. There are several suspects from Luke’s paramour to his understudy. I liked following Charlie’s investigation. There are good clues and misdirection to distract readers from the solution. In addition, there is the prankster in the theater and two men who both claim to be the playwright Finn Zwake. I thought Careless Whiskers was well-written with steady pacing. I appreciated the addition of my what my father termed ten dollar words (sangfroid and inamorata are two examples). The words suited the education of the characters. I thought that the characters were developed and realistic. The authors descriptions allowed me to visualize each one especially Finn Zwake with his shaggy mane of red hair and ridiculous mustache. Charlie continues to develop as he grows older. It is nice to see him slowing down at work and enjoying time with his grandchildren. I especially love the scenes with Charlie at home with Diesel and Ramses. I find Diesel’s little chirps and trills delightful. It is cute that Ramses tries to imitate his older brother. I laughed often while reading Careless Whiskers thanks to the abundance of humor. The ending was very special and left me smiling. Careless Whiskers is a diverting cozy mystery with an arrogant actor, a frisky feline, disquieting disputes, a phony playwright, and puzzling pranks.
Charlie Harris is enjoying his life and is excited that his daughter, Laura, has a starring role in a local play at Athena College. Careless Whispers is a new play written by a young man with a local connection, Finn Zwake. Laura’s husband, Frank is directing the play. The college has brought in an actor of some fame to boost sales for the event. Laura has worked with Luke Lombardi before and she is not looking forward to playing opposite him in this play. He along with his entourage rub almost everyone involved in the production the wrong way.
Rehearsals have had their up and downs with Laura trying to keep Luke in his place. There have also been some incidents/pranks against the Hollywood actor. With a “show must go on” attitude the show opens to a full house. All the actors hit their marks until Luke drinks from a glass at the beginning of the second act and he collapses and dies. The glass was filled and handed to him by Laura. Charlie rushes to the stage to be sure his daughter is okay. It is then that he realizes she is going to be the prime suspect.
Charlie had a close call recently with a case and vowed to let the police handle any future investigations but that was before his daughter was in the middle of a case. He knows she had nothing to do with Lombardi’s death. So he flips the script and dives right into another murder investigation with his loyal sidekick, Diesel in the quest to catch a killer.
One of the best things about this series is the genuine characters. They are strong in their values, have huge hearts, and are full of southern charm. I could easily imagine sharing a glass of sweet tea and catching up on all that is happening in their lives. Having Diesel and his new buddy Ramses chirping right along is just icing on the cake. Ms. James’s characters continue to grow and evolve. Their dialogues are realistic and crisp. I love the way Azalea keeps everyone in line and their stomachs filled. As always Diesel is my fave. I just can’t get enough of that Main Coon Cat!
I really enjoyed that Laura and Frank were featured in this story. It gave the perfect excuse for Charlie to jump into another investigation. It was a twisted investigation too. Mr. Lombardi’s entourage, his dresser, and his lover, formerly husband and wife, really made things very interesting. A playwright conundrum also adds to the mystery.
With a perfect pace, this story unfolds with the mysteries entangled with everyday life. The family dinners, Charlie spending time with his grandchildren every week to give their moms a little break, Helen Louise and Charlie’s late-night calls as they try to keep their romance going while she devotes so much time to her bistro, all give the story definition and keep it based in reality. While the number of murders and mysteries pushes the reality the Harris family and friends are always up to the task of solving them. This time Melba, Miss An’gel and Miss Dickce are along for the ride.
Careless Whisker is an excellent addition to this series. The author takes the time to add background so new readers can jump into the series at any time. It is one of my favorite series and I highly recommend all 12 books.
Careless Whiskers is exactly what I expect from a Cat in the Stacks book and still I’m delighted every time! It was packed full of a smart and well-developed plot.
The characters just won’t quit and personalities that make you want to call them friends. They have no problem showing love, morals, protectiveness and a trust in each other that binds, me, the reader to their plight.
And, if that wasn’t enough, Miranda James just writes great mysteries. Mysteries that glue you to the pages and supply a sleepless but well enjoyed night, because you just don’t want to put it down.
I received this ARC copy of Careless Whiskers from Berkley Publishing Group. This is my honest and voluntary review. Careless Whiskers is set for publication Jan 21, 2020.
My Rating: 5 stars Written by: Miranda James Series: Cat in the Stacks Mystery (Book 12) Hardcover: 304 pages Publisher: Berkley (January 21, 2020) ISBN-10: 0451491157 ISBN-13: 978-0451491152 Genre: Mystery
I always enjoy a visit with Charley and Diesel and the Ducote sisters, but this book just didn't quite come together for me. There were a couple of weird continuity errors in this book, almost as if the author rushed to finish it and changed or forgot details she(he) had previously mentioned. The mystery itself was fairly obvious. The motive seemed to come out of left field.
Charlie's daughter, Laura, and her husband, Frank, are staging a play called Careless Whispers for the Athena University, and have hired a Broadway actor to play the lead. Luke Lombardi is a pompous idiot and has a two person entourage, a male dresser and his ex-wife, now Luke's girlfriend. Charlie meets him at the reception upon his arrival and dislikes him immediately.
During rehearsals for the play, tricks are played on Luke, the worst being the addition of hot peppers into a drink he swiftly throws back, causing him to collapse and choke. Finally the performance night arrives, and at the beginning to act two, Luke's character again has to quickly swallow a drink. When he does, he again begins to choke, but this time he dies from poison in the bottle.
Charlie is encouraged not to investigate, but he can't help wondering and thinking, especially since Laura was to have drunk from the same bottle, and would also have died if she had not hesitated.
This was again just an average book, but Charlie and his family are pleasant characters, and their lives are fun to follow.
A cozy mystery settled around a play sponsored by the theater department of the Athena College. Charlie Harris' daughter Laura is in the play and Frank is the director. The lead actor is killed after consuming a glass of liquid handed to him by Laura. Charlie knows his daughter is innocent and he aims to prove it by solving the murder.
This is the twelfth novel in the Cat in the Stacks series. I so enjoy spending time with the characters Charlie Harris and his Maine coon cat, Diesel. There was a few Shakespeare quotes from two of his plays -- Macbeth and A Midsummer Night's Dream -- which I thought might have influenced the plot. There are several characters in this novel. I was able to keep them all separated by following the narration of Erin Bennett's voice adaptations. There is a subplot left unresolved, which will be carried over to the next book, Cat Me If You Can. The dialogue is unique to each character. The descriptions are realistic. The settings are grounded in the characters. There is plenty of conflict and motivation written into this story. I look forward to the next audiobook, narrated by Erin Bennett, in the series.
Careless Whiskers is another great Cat in the Stacks book. This series is great because of Diesel, the Main Coon cat. He is a fantastic character. I didn't feel like he was as prominent in this book as some of the others, but he was still there enough to add charm to the story.
In this installment, a costar in a play Laura is in is murdered after they've had some rather nasty run-ins. Charlie has to figure out the identity of the murder before someone he loves is either arrested or targeted by the killer.
I enjoyed seeing the normal cast of characters that is made up of Charlie's family and friends. Charlie was at his best here, protective, ethical, and courageous. I really liked the direction he took things at the very end of the book.
Charlie Harris has sworn off investigating crimes after his last and dangerous encounter. But in Careless Whiskers by Miranda James, he soon lapses especially when his daughter Laura is involved. An egotistical, not very good actor has been hired to star in a play Laura is acting in and her husband is directing. When small incidents turn into a big one, Charlie can't help but get involved.
A great new adventure for Charlie and Diesel. A murder in front of a theater full of witnesses.. Too many people to consider.. Who is the real author of the play. That and many other issues will hold you enthralled till the very end..
I’ve generally enjoyed the whole Cat in the Stacks series, starting with Murder Past Due. And I’ve always felt that the amateur detective around whom this series is based, Charlie Harris, is very much, “one of us” librarians. Which seems totally right, because his creator is also a real-life librarian.
So it seemed particularly appropriate to pick up Careless Whiskers while I was attending the recent American Library Association Midwinter Conference in Philadelphia, as I’ve also always said that Charlie is someone I’d love to catch a drink or a cup of coffee with at a conference.
I also picked this book because of Charlie’s “large and in charge” sidekick, his 35-pound Maine Coon cat named Diesel. I always miss our kitties when we are away, so I felt the urge to settle in with a feline book baby as my own were too far away too snuggle.
There are plenty of hints dropped at the end of the previous book in this series, The Pawful Truth, to let the reader know that this story would be focused on Charlie’s daughter Laura and son-in-law Frank and the next production of the college’s theater department.
And so it proves, with Frank directing and Laura co-starring in Careless Whispers by Finnegan Zwake. This particular production is a big part of the department’s annual fundraiser, an event where they get a relatively big name star to come to tiny Athena Mississippi for a couple of weeks to star in a play in the usually correct assumption that the big name star will draw big donor fans.
This year is not going to be their best year. Possibly their most dramatic, but even though some of that drama does occur onstage it is not of the type that contributes to a long run of any play.
Not that either Frank or Laura is all that eager to see once-upon-a-time Tony nominee Luke Lombardi “grace” their stage or their town. Laura has worked with the overacting thespian before and has no real desire to deal with him again – ever.
But as much as she can’t wait to see the back of him – she doesn’t want to see him dead. For real. On stage. On opening night.
Especially not when it looks like she’s either the prime suspect – or the next victim.
Escape Rating B-: I really, really, really wanted to get into this and love it because this series is such a comfort read for me. I adore Diesel, especially because he’s so himself and so cat at the same time – and he’s just a sweet boy and a smart cat at the cat level of smart. Not that I don’t love Joe Grey in his series, but Joe is human-smart and sometimes human-confused and human-conflicted and it’s a different experience.
Diesel is just big and perfectly cat. He’s not ordinary, but he’s not extraordinary in any way that is outside his species norms. And he’s adorable with it.
And, as I said at the top, Charlie just seems like “one of us” librarians in ways that writers don’t always get right. So when I settled in to read I thought I’d be all in – and I just wasn’t.
This entry in the series fell a bit flat for me. As I look back I’m not quite sure why, either, but it just didn’t zing or gel or any of the things that usually happen when I visit Athena.
I think that a lot of that was the theater setting. If I wanted a murder mystery crossed with Noises Off, I’d have found one. I wanted Athena and got locked in a playhouse instead. Another way I keep looking at it is that there was too much show business and not enough murder business. Or it went too far over the top in more than one direction.
First there was the business with Lombardi’s dresser and his mistress, who happened to be married to each other. And were both French and seemed more like characters from one of Moliere’s farces than even half-real people.
Especially when combined with the two men pretending to be the playwright Finnegan Zwake – accompanied by the equally farcical goings-on surrounding that red herring. Their rivalry, at least, made more sense than the French farce, but it added more comic relief than this particular story needed.
Although, now that I think about it, the real reason this didn’t work for me was its lack of dramatic tension. The blurb lures you in, as I did above, with the idea that Charlie’s daughter Laura is going to be the prime suspect in the murder. But she never really is. Even the police detective admits that she doesn’t actually suspect Laura – just that she has to investigate her enough to cross her off her list. And, while Charlie torments himself with the possibility that Laura could have been the next victim, by the time his brain starts going down that path the possibility is already over.
So color me disappointed with this entry in the series. But I’ll still be back for Diesel’s next adventure, Cat Me if You Can. I just hope that 13 turns out to be a luckier number for the series!
[I received an electronic review copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.]
I always enjoy time with Charlie and Diesel and the rest of the characters in this fun series! There was a slow build to the mystery this time - I don't think the murder happened until I was 40% or so into the story. The motives for the suspects weren't ultra strong, either, so Charlie had to really dig for nuances. There are - as always - some great animal moments in the book and there was one scene that cracked me up because it was so unexpected in some ways.
I was mostly satisfied in the end - I didn't feel like the "pranks" were well resolved in the end. Remember that I read an early copy - there were still some edits done after the fact, so this might have been addressed already. But technically there were 3 pranks, yet the first one was often forgotten. I thought maybe that was a plot device and in the end the "forgotten" prank would be a big part of the reveal, but it wasn't. In fact, I felt like the prankster was never really tied to the first prank very well. It felt like an unresolved thread for me and I was distracted by it. Hopefully that was tightened up in the final edits.
Overall, this was a satisfying Charlie and Diesel story - this has been a must-read series for me since book one, and it remains so. (LGBTQ+ - both for the ongoing series characters and also for this particular story.)
Charlie once again is involved in solving a murder, and this time it's personal. He refuses to believe his daughter Laura had anything to do with the death of her fellow actor, but he needs the key to solving the case. With people in disguise, lies and intrigue, will he an d Diesel ever catch the real culprit and clear Laura's name?
I love how these books are evolving, so that the characters change and their life circumstances do too. Charlie isn't just a father now, he has two grandchildren to think of as well. Add in Helen Louise and he has created a wonderful family unit to fall back onto. They are always great, but I feel like each one just gets stronger and more solid.
I have the next book on preorder already! One of the very few authors I will spend more than $10 on in the kindle store.
In James’ sprightly 12th A Cat in the Stacks Mystery, “Careless Whiskers,” live theater becomes the backdrop for a murderous game of cat-and-mouse.
Charlie Harris, part-time librarian and amateur sleuth, ventures into precarious territory when he attends a live theater production of “Careless Whispers,” in which his daughter, Laura, stars.
Also taking part in the show is a domineering movie actor, Luke Lombardi, with whom Laura worked alongside in Hollywood. When Lombardi arrives with an entourage and enormous attitude, tensions ensue between the cast and crew of the production.
Lombardi’s dramatic antics frustrate the entire theater department. Still, the stresses and anxieties of putting a theater production together come to a head when Lombardi collapses and dies on stage after drinking from a glass Laura handed him.
Laura becomes the main suspect in the crime, but Charlie knows his daughter is innocent. Along with his Maine Coon, Diesel, Charlie digs into the theater’s long list of actors for the killer.
“Careless Whiskers” is a solid and entertaining read in this ongoing cozy mystery series.
Another great Diesel and Charlie Harris mystery. The lead actor in the play Careless Whispers is murdered on stage and there are way too many suspects, but Charlie and Diesel put their heads together and set out to solve the mystery. I love the cast of characters, the setting and the plot in these books. Looking forward to the next on.
Another intriguing mystery with Charlie Harris, his cat Diesel and all the other characters in Athena, MS. As is often true, one can pick out the candidate for murder fairly easily. In fact, as a reader I feel a bit guilty as I wait to see who will knock the so and so off and quickly too!
Usually mystery writers choose sympathetic victims--not Miranda James. As usual, Charlie Harris who ought to be concentrating on his job archiving books at the college, gets caught up in the mystery surrounding the production of a play in which his son in law is the director and his daughter is the lead actress. Of course, there are wheels within wheels and I appreciate a cat in a mystery that isn't able to solve the conundrum without human help! Species pride--I guess-wink-wink.
I may have enjoyed this book better if I had read it rather than listened to it. Although the main character is male, the narrator on this audio version is female and that kept throwing me a curve with the character. This is my first book in this mystery series and I probably won't be seeking out others. I always loved Lillian Jackson Braun's "The Cat Wh0..." series. The two cats in those books were part of the process of solving the crime. The cats in Ms James book are treated more like a dogs. Cats do not need a constant watcher. They are quite capable of staying alone for an evening or even weekend without a human companion. Maybe Maine Coon cats are different from Siamese or other domesticated cats. These cats just seemed like a prop, like Sherlock Holmes' pipe.
Thank you @netgalley for the review copy of this book. All opinions are my own. Careless Whiskers is book 12 in the Cat in the Stacks cozy mystery series. Release date is set for 1.21.20.
Charlie is definitely not going to sit by quietly when his daughter becomes involved in a suspicious death. Laura and her husband are hard at work on directing and staring in a play. When a well known, pompous, actor joins the cast as a lead role, you know drama will surely follow. Pranks begin occurring on set until one day, the actions are taken too far and the actor is killed very shockingly during the productions. Charlie must sort through the numerous clues, help identify who the real playwright is and clear his daughter’s innocence all while keeping out of the way of the detective.
I’m new to this series, having only read The Pawful Truth earlier this summer. I rarely jump in reading the latest books, but I’ve had no problem distinguishing the character and following along with their storylines. It’s clear that Diesel, the cat, is by far the star of this series. His antics make me smile each and every time he appears in a scene. I’m quite fond of Charlie too. As I’ve stated before, I don’t typically read books where the protagonist is a mature, male sleuth, but I really love his perspective. His actions and responses show his wise experience. I love how he dotes on his family and friends. He did seem to doze off a lot throughout this story though, lol.
The chapters are fairly short and the storyline was very engaging. There were definitely a lot of characters involved so the reader really had to pay close attention to everyone - especially when several were going by the same identity. It was enough to keep me guessing because I didn’t figure out the culprit until close to the end.
Talk about a sweet ending too!!! Can’t wait to see how the characters will handle these new, exciting changes as the series progresses.
There’s a murderer on the stage and Charlie’s intent on saving the day!
I like the Cat in the Stacks mysteries. They’re comfort food in book form. The writing is good and drew me right in, plus there are cats. The pacing was a little uneven at times, but I could overlook it because I wanted to know what happened.
Charlie is a sweet older man. I’m not entirely sure how old he is, other than he’s a widower and has an adult child, but I never really got a good picture of him. I did get a great picture of his cats, Ramses and Diesel. I’d love to live somewhere that allows cats that readily around town. Then again, I’d love a Ramses and Diesel of my own, as these cats literally follow him everywhere like a pair of dogs. I’ve never had a cat that would listen to commands and wasn’t so headstrong that commands didn’t mean anything. These cats are different. Then again, this is fiction, so it’s okay.
The mystery is interesting and I had no idea whodunit. I had to read through and it was quicker pacing near the end when the ending is revealed. I did like that the story picked up that way. I do have to admit I got a bit tired of the various meals Charlie ate, but again, it could be overlooked because the mystery was interesting.
If you’re looking for a comfort style story, something to pass an afternoon and that involves cats, then this might be the one for you.
Another really fun and enjoyable mystery in the Cat in the Stacks series. This is another great example of a typical cozy mystery. Charlie Harris is such a lovely amateur sleuth to follow. He's smart and loving and will do anything for his family. Including insert himself into the murder investigation when he fears for his daughter's safety. His Maine Coon cat Diesel is a wonderful sidekick and makes me wish I had a furry friend that I could take everywhere with me and who had good sense of judgement when it came to people. I especially love the cast of characters that surround Charlie and support him even when they wish he would stay away from murder. _ This series is well written and easy to read; and this book is no exception. As a reader, you are easily pulled into the story because of the flow and the mix of every day happenings with the dramatic suspense of murder. The over the top new characters balance the logical recurring ones. I was surprised by the ending and how everything played out. I am already looking forward to the next installment. _ Thanks to the publishers for a free copy; I am happy to give my honest thoughts.
Charlie’s enjoyment of the college play that his daughter Laura is starring in is ruined when a fellow cast member is murdered. Not only could Laura have been killed, too, she becomes a suspect in the murder. Now Charlie must clear her and find the real killer. Unfortunately, the list of people who disliked the murdered actor is not a short one: he was uniformly disliked, even hated, for his arrogant personality. There are many twists along the way, and things get rather complicated before the final solution. This series has dynamic characters, and each book is better than the previous one. The characters grow and develop as they experience changes in their lives, and yet each book in the series can be considered a stand-alone. Really, cozy readers will want to read them all, and then will eagerly anticipate the next one.