Cats, Carats and Killers

 


 

Cats, Carats and Killers (Urban Tails Pet Shop Mysteries)
by T. C. LoTempio

About Cats, Carats, and Killers


 

Cats, Carats and Killers (Urban Tails Pet Shop Mysteries)
Cozy Mystery
4th in Series
Setting – Connecticut
Publisher ‏ : ‎ Beyond the Page Publishing (March 19, 2024)
Paperback ‏ : ‎ 182 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1960511556
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1960511553
Kindle ASIN ‏ : ‎ B0CVQWT72R

 

There may be honor among thieves, but a long-ago diamond heist might hold the secret to a man’s murder . . .

Pet shop owner Shell McMillan is thrilled to see everyone in Fox Hollow flocking to the local animal shelter’s fundraiser, where they can get their old keepsakes and collectibles appraised and maybe even sell them for a tidy sum. But the event has drawn some shady characters as well, including Pete Martin, who seems determined to get his hands on a beat-up old jewelry box at any cost. Then Martin is found murdered, and Shell has to go from fundraising to finding a killer.

It doesn’t take long for Shell to figure out that the jewelry box was concealing diamonds from a long-ago heist, and that Martin wasn’t the only one trying to get his hands on the stash. But to figure out who wanted him dead, she’ll have to uncover who was behind the original heist and who knows where the rest of the gems are hidden. It’s as dangerous a case as Shell has ever faced, and if she’s not careful, her search for the missing stones will leave her stone-cold dead . . .

 

Enjoy an Excerpt


I left Gary sorting through an assortment of catnip sticks and walked to the center office. Marianne was seated at the desk, her head bent over a large mound of papers. She looked up as I approached and her smile morphed into a disappointed look.  “Oh, hello Shell.  Sorry, I thought you were Jen with some items I asked her to bring.”

“Sorry to disappoint you,” I said.  “I just wanted to check in on my cats.”  I saw Cleo’s carrier was empty and I glanced around the room.  No sign of any of the cats. “Where are they, by the way?”

Marianne frowned. “Oh, why. I don’t know.  I’ve been so preoccupied with my paperwork I wasn’t paying attention. But they have to be here somewhere,” she added quickly.  “They couldn’t have wandered off anywhere.  Cats are very good at hiding, you know.”

I frowned. “I’d better look for them.  Inez will just die if anything happens to that cat.”

Marianne glanced at her watch. “Tell you what, I need a break myself. Suppose I run over to the shelter tent for the rest of the donations, and you stay here and look for them. I won’t be long.”

“It’s fine with me,” I said. “Gary’s manning our table right now. Take all the time you need.”

Marianne shot me a grateful smile and left, and I started to walk slowly around the room, calling out both cat’s names. Suddenly I heard a rustling sound. I whirled around and saw Purrday, the Princess and Cleopawtra both jump onto the desk.  I placed my hands on my hips and gave them a stern look. “And where did you all come from, may I ask?”

Purrday let out a sharp yowl, while the Princess and Cleopawtra each stretched a paw out toward the jewel chest. “No, girls,” I said sharply. Both cats turned to stare at me. I walked forward slowly, shaking my head. I reached out and picked up the jewel chest. “This isn’t a toy. You wouldn’t want to knock it off the desk and damage it, would you?”

Both cats looked at me for a few seconds, and then let out a soft meow. Purrday swatted at Cleopawtra with his paw, and the two of them jumped off the desk and trotted off into the far corner, the Princess in hot pursuit.   I picked the cardboard box up off the floor and set it on the desk. I was just about to slip the chest into it when I heard a soft footfall behind me. I whirled around to see a man only a few inches taller than me with close-cropped red hair, wearing jeans and a checked shirt standing in my doorway. “Pardon me,” he said. “Is this where the antique show is being held?”

I frowned. The man must have entered through the rear door and not the front one which would have brought him directly into the community center. I forced a pleasant smile to my lips and said, “I’m sorry, it’s not a show. It’s a fundraising event for the shelter.” I pointed to the sign in the hall that read, APPRAISE FOR STRAYS. “For a fee, people can have their items appraised and find out if what’s been languishing in their cellars or attics for years might actually be worth something.”

His dark red brows drew together in a deep frown, etching deep lines in his high forehead. “Oh, my apologies. I thought it was a show.”

“No, sorry it’s not. But if you have anything you’d like appraised, the fee is three dollars for one item, and ten dollars for three. All proceeds go to the shelter. If you’d like, I’d be glad to walk you around back to the event.”

He waved his hand. “That’s okay,” he began, and then stopped abruptly as his gaze fell on the jewel chest on my desk. He pointed a stubby finger at it and said, “Say, that looks like a Queen Vic box. Is it?”

I hesitated. “I really don’t know. One of the patrons left it here to be appraised.”

“Do you mind?” Before I could utter an objection, he’d stepped all the way into the office and over to the desk. He peered down at the box and nodded. “Yep, that’s a Queen Vic all right. My mother’s always wanted one of those.” His hand dipped into his pants pocket and he withdrew a fat wallet. “Tell you what. You can make a nice little profit for the shelter right now. I’ll give you a hundred and fifty dollars for it, what do you say?”

I maneuvered around him, picked up the chest and slid it inside the cardboard box. “I’m sorry,” I said in a firm tone. “I don’t work here, but even if I did, none of these items here are for sale. They were left here by shelter patrons who wanted them appraised.”

The man let out a sigh. “Okay, okay. I’ll make it worth your while. Two hundred.” When I didn’t respond, he pulled more bills out of his wallet. “Fine. Three hundred, and that’s my final offer. What do you say?”

I struggled to keep my tone even as I replied, “Apparently you didn’t understand me. Nothing here is mine to sell. However, if you want to leave your name, I’ll tell the shelter director about your offer. She can contact the owner who will make the final decision, after the item’s been appraised, of course.”

The man’s brows drew together in a fierce scowl. He glanced over at the poster bearing Antoine’s likeness and then back at me. “You really like to play hardball, don’t you?” He whipped another bill from the wallet and waved the stack in front of my face. “Okay-four hundred. And that is definitely my final offer.”

Gosh, this guy was thick! And definitely getting on my last nerve. “I’m sorry,” I said, and this time I didn’t even try to keep the irritation out of my tone. “I’m not playing hardball. This item isn’t for sale, at any price.”

“Yeah?” He growled. He shoved the bills back into his wallet. “Well, we’ll see about that. Everyone has a price. I just haven’t hit yours yet.” With that, he turned on his heel and marched out the back door, letting it slam behind him.  I stood for a moment, hands on hips, and let out a slow breath. I felt something furry touch my ankle and I looked down to see Purrday at my feet. He looked up at me, his eyes wide. “Merow?”

I picked the cat up and he butted my chin with his head. I dropped a kiss on his forehead. “I’m more curious than ever to see what Antoine has to say about this box now,” I murmured. “There must be something special about it for not one but two people to offer so much money.” I looked the cat straight in the eye. “You know, I’m starting to think this little item is more valuable than we think. Why, for all we know, this really might be Queen Victoria’s jewel chest.”

I felt around in my tote bag and pulled out three catnip balls.  I set them on the floor. Immediately all the cats started to nose at them. “That should keep you occupied,” I said.  I heard the back door open again and I steeled myself for another confrontation with the stranger, but the newcomer was Marianne, a baby doll tucked under one arm and an ebony walking stick in the other. She set down the items and looked at me.  “What on earth did he want?” she asked.

I stared at her.  “You mean the man who was just here? Do you know him?” I asked.

Her answer startled me. “Of course I do.  That was Pete Martin.”


 

About T.C. LoTempio

 

T. C. LoTempio is the award-winning, national bestselling author of the Nick and Nora mystery series. Her cat, Rocco, provides the inspiration for the character of Nick the cat. She also writes the Urban Tails Pet Shop Mystery Series, as well as the Cat Rescue series and the Tiffany Austin Food Blogger series. Check out her and Rocco’s blog, www.catsbooksmorecats.blogspot.com, and visit her website, www.tclotempio.net, for more information.

Social Media Links

Webpage: http://www.tclotempio.net

Blog: http://www.catsbooksmorecats.blogspot.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/toni.lotempio.5

Twitter/X: @RoccoBlogger

GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1195684.T_C_LoTempio

Purchase Links  – AmazonB&NKobo – 

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Comments

  1. This looks like a fantastic cozy mystery. Thanks for hosting this tour.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Love the cover. It looks like it would make a great jigsaw puzzle

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  3. I liked the excerpt. Thank you for sharing.

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  4. I liked learning about your book! Cat theme is great.

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  5. loving the sound of this book.. that excerpt is clawing at my interest full force..

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  6. I love cozies involving animals so this series is right up my alley. Thanks for the giveaway!

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