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Publisher's Summary

December 25 is right around the corner, and Charlie is making his list and checking it twice. He is doing his best to show some peace and goodwill toward his nosy neighbor Gerry Arbitron, a real estate agent who seems to have designs on his house (and maybe on him, as well), while preparing for a very important role, indeed - his first Christmas as a grandfather.

The last thing Charlie expects is to gain several new additions to his family. Charlie finds a box on his doorstep with five kittens inside and a note begging him to keep them safe. With Diesel's help, Charlie welcomes the tiny felines into the Harris household just as Gerry decides it is time to throw a lavish holiday party.   

Determined to make her mark on Athena, Gerry instead winds up dead at her very own party. Though attempts to dig into her past come up empty, Charlie and his girlfriend, Helen Louise, witness two heated exchanges involving Gerry before her death: one with a leading citizen and another with the wife of a good friend. 

Will one of these ladies wind up on the sheriff's naughty list? 

Charlie and Diesel have to wrap up the case before the special season is ruined by a sinister scrooge.

©2018 Dean James (P)2018 Tantor

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

I always enjoy a new addition

I always look forward to another installment in the Cat in the Stacks series, and this one doesn’t disappoint. It has all the lovable characters we’ve come to love. I highly recommend this book/audiobook to cozy mystery fans.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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A Tremendous Addition to a Great Series

In <strong>Six Cats A Slayin'</strong>, the latest book by Miranda James, Charlie Harris is getting ready for Christmas when he opens the door and finds a box filled with five kittens. The box contains a note in a child's scrawl that "he" was going to kill the kittens, so they needed protection. Filled with compassion, Charlie takes in the kittens, and his boarder sheriff's deputy Haskell, builds a large crate to keep all five kittens. Charlie's Maine coon cat, Diesel, who goes everywhere with Charlie and is the most famous cat in Athena, surprises everyone by adopting the kittens as a surrogate father. He even skips his usual trips to the library with Charlie to babysit his new charges.

In the meantime, Gerry Arbitron, who claims to have been a lifelong resident of Athena despite no one's seeming to remember her, has moved in across the street from Charlie. He feels uncomfortable when she starts flirting heavily with Charlie, who makes a point of playing up his relationship with Helen Louise as a buffer against Gerry's advances. Gerry shows herself to be an aggressive real estate agent, trying to get people in the neighborhood to sell their homes. Then comes the night of Gerry's elaborate Christmas party that she throws for the whole neighborhood. Making an effort to impress everyone, Gerry serves expensive champagne in flutes but drinks brandy in a snifter herself. She has a fight with two separate women, so when Gerry suddenly dies, there is no shortage of suspects.

<strong>Six Cats A Slayin'</strong> is a strong murder mystery, but even more so, it is a celebration of life, both new and old. We quickly fall in love with the new kittens, one of whom, the rambunctious Ramses, named after the precocious boy in Elizabeth Peters's books, captures everyone's heart. But we also get to celebrate the first Christmas with little Charlie, son of big Charlie's daughter, Laura, and her husband, Frank, and Baby Rosie, daughter of Charlie's son, Frank, with his wife, Alex.

However, we also see the darker side of having a newborn, as Alex plunges into such deep postpartum depression that she has to be hospitalized for malnutrition and dehydration, as well as complete exhaustion. I appreciated this demonstration of this genuine and serious illness that affects so many new mothers, shining light on the way depression, whether postpartum or not, often makes the victim blind to its presence and in denial of the need of help. It takes an intervention, led by a therapist friend, to make Alex see that she needs help and reminds us to look out for others who might be suffering from a similar condition.

This book, indeed the whole series, further reminds us that family is what we choose to create. Charlie has his biological family of his son and daughter and their respective families, but he also has Helen Louise, his "partner," who has become part of the family. In addition, he had found the younger brother he always wished he had in Stewart Delacorte, thecflamboyant gay Athena College chemistry teacher, who moved into Charlie's big house in the second book in the series, <em>Classified as Murder</em>. More recently, Stewart's partner, deputy Haskell, the solid and dependable one of the family, has moved in to the house as well. Though they may not be related, they all form one big family, along with Azalea, the housekeeper who might not admit to loving everyone, including "Mr. Cat," but who would die for them all.

Erin Bennett performs the audio version of <strong>Six Cats A Slayin'</strong> with a strong delivery that makes one forget that the grandfather Charlie is being voiced by a woman. Her role as Diesel, with his warbles, tweets, and chirps makes the cat obviously a regular character in the book. Further, she makes us feel the intense concern as Alex dives even more deeply and dangerously into post- partum depression. When some big reveals occur, Bennett helps us accept them without judgment on individuals who acted against social norms. This performance is truly a gem within a gem of a book.

I deeply enjoyed <strong>Six Cats A Slayin'</strong>. This book spends less time than typical in investigating the murder, but it shows the lives of Charlie's family in such a way as to endear them to even a first- time reader of a Cat in the Stacks (a.k.a. Diesel) book. I give this book a hearty five stars!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Wonderful book!

Once again Miranda James delivers a great mystery that engages the mind and the heart. the series is as strong as ever and I hope we have lots of these to come. Great narrator.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Great series, and this is the best of the best...

I loved this book for a number of different reasons. I have enjoyed the entire series, but this is by far my favorite. I love the character advancements since the first books. The bonds that have developed between Charlie, his kids & spouses, Stewart & Haskell, Helen Louise, and even Azalea and Melba have made them a wonderful extended family who obviously care deeply about each other and work together to form a loving unit. And the “détente” between Charlie and Kinesha was very satisfying. The mystery itself was extremely interesting. Many twists, but it flowed together so well that it kept me hanging on, waiting for what was around the next corner. But probably my favorite "side story" was the kittens. I foster cats and kittens for a rescue, and often in books some of the cat elements just don’t quite fit with real life. But this was spot-on as far as what it is like taking on stray kittens. They are challenging, but they also give back by providing entertainment, helping to relieve stress, and giving unconditional love. I have fostered a number of Rameses, and couldn’t help but fall for him. I’m looking forward to hearing about him in the future. And I can’t forget Diesel…he was so adorable as the step-daddy to the kittens. It was such a sweet touch. I once had a long-term foster who did the exact same thing with several litters of kittens. The situation with Tommy and his Step-Father was handled so well that I felt extremely happy with the outcome. There was a lot going on in this book, but it all flowed so well that it was not "too much" - it was perfect for me. I have already listened to this book twice, and I’m sure it will be a favorite that is enjoy over and over. I highly recommend checking out, not only this book, but the entire Cat in the Stacks series.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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6 cats a slayin'

I love this series! This book was exceptionally good! so many things going on! Wow!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Charlie’s Christmas story

This series is so intelligent. I always learn something from reading them. If you don’t read this series, you are truly missing out on a classic.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Fun kitties

Enjoyed the darling kitties and the Christmas gift of Ramses. Reminds me of the "best Christmas present ever" in my life...a tiny puppy in a big box with red bow and Christmas tag from my husband's family. Great listen.

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Nice Holiday Mystery

Kept me company on a couple long drives and was engaging. Murder seemed a subplot.