Minnie Hamilton, assistant director of the library at Chilson, Michigan, has spent much time and effort in getting a bookmobile for her library and finally succeeds after getting a donation by the 70-something, uber-rich Stan Laraby in Lending a Paw by Laurie Cass. On her first day taking the bookmobile out, Minnie’s rescue cat, Eddie, stows away with her and sneaks onto the vehicle, to the delight of the children who come to check out some books. But at Minnie’s last stop, Eddie runs out of the bookmobile, and when Minnie chases him, she finds him by an old, derelict house, sitting next to the murdered body of Stan Laraby.
Minnie’s boss walls around in a daze when she delivers the news of her find and tells the library staff in a couple days that someone from that very library had mentored Laraby as a youth, giving him an inspiration to become the successful businessman he became. Therefore, he left a large bequest to the library, but they soon learn that it will be tied up for a long time because Laraby’s family is contesting the will.
Meanwhile, the bookmobile keeps going, but all the children just want to see Eddie, particularly a special little girl with leukemia. So, despite the fear that the surly Steven, Minnie’s boss, might fire her for this, Minnie sneaks Eddie aboard for their visits. Soon the cat becomes popular with everyone, and people who come to pet Eddie end up borrowing books too. The bookmobile becomes even more of a success among the people at the senior community centers.
However, not all is going well at the library, as Steven seems to be losing his mind for no obvious reason and police keep questioning the staff. They seem especially to be after Holly, who turns out to be a second cousin of Laraby who asked for and was refused a loan from him. Holly asks Minnie to do some looking into the case for her, especially as the detectives don’t seen to be taking things very seriously. This prompts Minnie to seek out Laraby’s lady friend, which leads her more deeply into the case. And all the while, Eddie assists Minnie with her research.
Lending a Paw was a fun experience to listen to. The plot had some interesting angles that I found intriguing. I did find the way the police seemed indifferent to Minnie to be a bit annoying, and I also didn’t feel that she had strong enough motivation to put herself in such danger by investigating this perilous case.
The character of Minnie has real interest for the reader, as she comes alive and seems sympathetic. One example of her humanity comes through when demanded by Steven, her boss, to get a donation to the library from others, and Minnie has trouble asking for money, feeling very uncomfortable. But it is the character of Eddie who really steals the scenes in the book. He has a strong nature that seems almost human at times that draws you to him. You can truly see why the children love Eddie and beg to get to see him. But I do wonder at the selection of the sound “mur” for Eddie’s voice. I have never had a cat, but I have spent time with cats and have never noticed one saying “mur.”
Erin Bennett performs the audiobook of Lending a Paw. She does a great job of performing this book, especially at giving life to the cat so that a simple “mur” can mean many things. I truly appreciated the way Bennett delivered this fun book.
I enjoyed listening to Lending a Paw and getting to ride the bookmobile with Minnie. It has interesting twists. I would have liked to see more of Minnie’s Aunt Francis, who runs a boarding house near Minnie’s houseboat. She had real potential as a creative character. I give the book five stars!
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