When a local computer guru dies, apparently from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, Pecan Springs police chief Sheila Dawson is on the case. At least she is assisting the detective in charge — and enjoying getting out from behind her paperwork-laden desk. There are some suspicious circumstances, however, involving the death of Larry Kirk. Assisting the Chief is, of course, China Bayles, attorney and local herb-shop owner. China is at the crime scene before Sheila Dawson – called there by her friend Ruby’s sister Ramona, who discovered Larry’s body.
While the police professionals pursue the case (which turns out to be a murder) by the book, China tunes into the local gossip and does some subtle sleuthing on her own, sharing any information she finds with Chief Dawson. Things are a bit complicated, though, because a local politician is about to be charged with breaking into Larry’s computer shop. Could the two crimes be related?
Cat’s Claw is called, “A Pecan Springs Mystery featuring Sheila Dawson and China Bayles.” This is a departure from the usually China-centered story. But Chief Dawson has been a prominent character in earlier books in this series – it’s just with Cat’s Claw she moves center-stage.
The author moves deftly between first person (China) and third person (Sheila) to tell the story in Cat’s Claw. I’m pretty sure not every author could carry that off well, but Ms. Albert certainly does. After a gazillion books featuring China Bayles, mixing it up keeps the series fresh and makes it more fun for readers (and the writer, I’m sure). Cat’s Claw is exactly what Susan Wittig Albert’s fans look for in her books.