My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Out of Circulation is the 4th book in the ‘Cat in the Stacks’ cozy mystery series written by Miranda James, a pseudonym for Dean James (and he has other ones too). I began reading the author’s work a few years ago and completed one of the other series (Southern Ladies) before finding my way back to this one. I am determined to catch up to the current book (#11) before the summer starts since I was recently awarded the latest on NetGalley. I’ve grown very fond of the author’s writing style, plots, and characters, and I look forward to each new one when it’s next in my queue.
Charlie Harris is ~52 and works at a library in the small town of Athena, Mississippi. He has two grown children and lost his wife years ago. He inherited a large home from an aunt who passed and continues to use it as a boarding house. Charlie also has a few pets, most prominently, Diesel, a ~35 lb. Maine Coon cat. I’ve been around the breed before as a friend of my father’s had one years ago — they do get huge! In this caper, we meet Dickce and An’gel, the two spinster sisters who become the focal point of the ‘Southern Sisters’ cozy series that Miranda James also writes. I really hope he publishes another one there, but… I was pleasantly surprised to see them as the main characters in Out of Circulation. Had I read the books properly in order, I would’ve been introduced to them before I read their separate series. Oops! You can do it this way, but I recommend reading in order.
This was my favorite book in this series so far. I love genealogical mysteries, and when I learned we’d be exploring the background of the Ducote sisters, I was psyched. A woman in their social circle is annoying everyone around her when it comes to various volunteer efforts in Athena. Of course, she winds up dead. I really didn’t like the woman, but there was a lovely call/letter with Charlie that made her seem a bit nicer. Did the sisters kill her? Doubtful, but Charlie must investigate. Unfortunately, it’s his housekeeper Azalea who looks most guilty. We learn what happened between the two women in the past, and since the normal deputy solving these crimes is Kanesha, Azalea’s daughter, she’s been removed from the investigation. Charlie and Kanesha had some run-ins in the previous books, so this was a great change of pace.
Author James is truly gifted at transporting readers to Mississippi and the southern lifestyle. Coming from the north, it’s a completely different way of life for me (although my other half is from Louisiana, so I do have some exposure). James has created vivid characters who leap off the pages either as friends or enemies right away. While I adore Diesel the cat, I’m possibly more fond of the various house guests at Charlie’s place. They provide a great deal of balance and color to the intensity of the crimes, but we also experience a variety of personalities to bring in some laughter.
The secret we learned in this book was fantastic. The hidden relationships were even better. I actually think there could be a sequel to understand more about the woman who died… what happened to her growing up to make her the way she was. We get some details, but it was so fascinating, I wanted more. I’m excited to find out what happens to Charlie’s kids in the next adventure given how this book ended – a nice small cliffhanger without rustling the boat too much. I’ll be reading the fifth one early next month. Kudos for a wonderful series that insists I finish it ASAP!
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For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations but with a twist. There are four books: Academic Curveball, Broken Heart Attack, Flower Power Trip, and Mistaken Identity Crisis. I read, write, and blog A LOT on this site where you can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.