In Black Cat Crossing by Kay Finch, Sabrina Tate has moved to Lavender, TX to live on her Aunt Rowena’s large property on which she owns a variety of spaced-out vacation cottages. Her plan has been to write her mystery novel, getting the local bookstore owner TyAnne to critique the book. She hears Thomas Cortez, local resident whom her Aunt Rowe helped bring up, complain about El Gato Diablo, the “bad news cat,” a large black cat that he blames for all the bad luck he encounters. But certain that no black cat will bring bad luck, Sabrina befriends and adopts the cat, naming him Hitchcock. Then, later that night, black sheep of the family, Bobby Joe Flowers, shows up at Aunt Rowe’s house and claims that he has found that he really is the half-brother of Aunt Rowe and thus owns half the land her vacation homes sit on. Furious at the libel against her mother, Aunt Rowe grabs one of her crutches, which she has been using due to a broken leg, and hits the man on the side of the head. Thus, the same night, when Hitchcock leads Sabrina to the river and she finds the dead body of Bobby Joe, eyes turn to Aunt Rowe, especially that of Deputy Rosales.
Sabrina has to work hard on her writing, since the woman who has just agreed to be her new agent wants to submit a manuscript to a publisher in two weeks. But how can Sabrina write when her aunt may be in trouble? So she takes time out to investigate, with the help of Hitchcock, who has proven to be good luck for Sabrina’s search.
I really enjoyed Black Cat Crossing, for both the clever plot and the creative characters. The book has interesting twists and turns that makes it fun to listen to. However, I was not really satisfied with the conclusion. But the rest of the book was fascinating.
The characters really drive this book, especially those of Aunt Rowe and Hitchcock. The older lady in her 70s with at least three marriages to her name comes across as feisty and fun, caring nothing about public opinion or how things may look no matter what she says or does. The cat really does fit in as a legitimate character, helping to guide Sabrina to clues, making him her good luck cat instead of the bad luck cat that locals see Hitchcock as being.
I liked the way that Hitchcock subtly serves as a metaphor for racial discrimination. People judge the black cat for the color of its fur just as others judge individuals for the colors of their skin. Sabrina’s comments that no cat can cause bad luck, no matter the color of its fur, harks back to comments by racists about skin color.
Amy Rubinate narrates the audiobook version of this book. She does a good job of making this book enjoyable, using a believable accent and good voices for the characters. The audiobook was fun for me to experience.
I have heard people on cozy mystery discussion groups talk excitedly about Kay Finch, but until now I was unable to enjoy her books because none were on audio. But I finally have gotten the opportunity to listen to one of her books and am glad that I was given this chance. I intended originally to give this book five stars, but my dissatisfaction with the ending makes me lower it to four stars. However, I liked the book enough to have already bought the second book in the series!
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