Some feline investigations…
What is the Cat in the Stacks series about?
Written by Miranda James (the pseudonym of Dean James), the Cat in the Stacks series is a cozy mystery series about a librarian and his cat investigating local murders.
Set in Athena, Mississippi, the series revolves around Charlie Harris, the good-natured librarian with a rescued Maine coon cat named Diesel that he walks on a leash. After returning to his hometown to immerse himself in books, he found himself entangled in a real-life thriller… That’s only the first of a series of mysteries he and Diesel must solve.
How to read the Cat in the Stacks Books in Order?
Every book in the Cat in the Stacks series works as a standalone story, but the lives of the different characters evolve from one novel to the other.
- Murder Past Due – A famous author of gory bestsellers and a former classmate of Charlie’s, Godfrey Priest may be the pride of Athena, but Charlie remembers him as an arrogant, manipulative jerk-and he’s not the only one. Godfrey’s homecoming as a distinguished alumnus couldn’t possibly go worse: by lunch, he’s put a man in the hospital. By dinner, Godfrey’s dead. Now it’s up to Charlie, with some help from Diesel, to paw through the town’s grudges and find the killer before an impatient deputy throws the book at the wrong person.
- Classified as Murder – Suspecting that someone is stealing from him, the aging and eccentric James Delacorte wants Charlie to do an inventory on his rare book collection. Soon after they begin, Delacorte is found dead at his desk, leaving Charlie with the bigger task of solving his murder.
- File M for Murder – Athena College’s new writer in residence is a famous native son, playwright Connor Lawton, known for his sharp writing-and sharper tongue. After an unpleasant encounter, librarian Charlie Harris heads home to a nice surprise: his daughter, Laura, is visiting and will be subbing for another professor this fall semester. It’s great news until he hears who got her the job: her old flame, Connor Lawton… And then, before Connor finishes the play he is writing, he is murdered-and Laura is the prime suspect.
- Out of Circulation – The Ducote sisters are in a tiff with Vera Cassity over the location of Athena, Mississippi’s annual library fundraising gala, and Charlie would rather curl up in a corner than get into the fray. It seems everyone-even his housekeeper Azalea-has it in for Vera. And at the gala, she gives them good reason, with a public display of rancor aimed at anyone who gets in her way. But those bitter words wind up being her last. When Charlie discovers Azalea standing over Vera’s dead body, it’s up to him-with a little help from Diesel-to clear Azalea’s name, and catch a killer before his last chapter is finished.
- The Silence of the Library – It’s National Library Week, and the Athena Public Library is planning an exhibit to honor the centenary of famous novelist Electra Barnes Cartwright-creator of the beloved Veronica Thane series. When the author agrees to make a rare public appearance, the news of her whereabouts goes viral overnight, and series devotees and book collectors converge on Athena. After all, it’s rumored that Cartwright penned Veronica Thane stories that remain under wraps, and one rabid fan will stop at nothing-not even murder-to get hold of the rare books…
- Arsenic and Old Books – Lucinda Beckwith Long, the mayor of Athena, Mississippi, has donated a set of Civil War-era diaries to the archives of Athena College. She would like librarian Charlie Harris to preserve and substantiate them as a part of the Long family legacy-something that could benefit her son, Beck, as he prepares to campaign for the state senate. Beck’s biggest rival would like to get a look at the diaries in an attempt to expose the Long family’s past sins. Meanwhile, a history professor is also determined to get her hands on the books in a last-ditch bid for tenure. But their interest suddenly turns deadly, leaving Charlie with a catalog of questions to answer.
- No Cats Allowed – Charlie Harris and his Maine Coon cat Diesel are on their guard. Oscar Reilly, the new director at the Athena College library, is on a mission to cut costs and has set his sights on the archive and rare book collection. Reilly’s also out to replace Charlie’s fiery friend Melba with someone younger, but his biggest offense is declaring all four-legged creatures banned from the stacks. With enemies aplenty, the suspect list is long when Reilly’s body is discovered in the library, but incriminating evidence throws suspicion on Melba.
- Twelve Angry Librarians – The Southern Academic Libraries Association is holding this year’s annual meeting at Athena College. Since Charlie is the interim library director, he must deliver the welcome speech to all the visiting librarians. And as if that weren’t bad enough, the keynote address will be delivered by Charlie’s old nemesis from library school. It’s been thirty years since Charlie has seen Gavin Fong, and he’s still an insufferable know-it-all capable of getting under everyone’s skin. In his keynote, Gavin puts forth a most unpopular opinion: that degreed librarians will be obsolete in the academic libraries of the future. So when Gavin drops dead, no one seems too upset…
- Claws for Concern – Charlie is spending time helping a kind, elderly man navigate the library’s genealogical database. But he’s shocked when he learns that the visitor’s search is focused on a member of his own family: his late aunt’s husband. Charlie befriends the man and considers inviting him to stay in his home, but he’s soon given reason to question that notion. Jack is certain that Charlie’s new houseguest was involved in a shocking homicide that took place years ago in a small town near Athena.
- Six Cats a Slayin’ – Charlie finds a box on his doorstep with five kittens inside and a note begging him to keep them safe. With Diesel’s help, Charlie welcomes the tiny felines into the Harris household just as his nosy neighbor Gerry Arbitron decides it is time to throw a lavish holiday party. Determined to make her mark on Athena, Gerry instead winds up dead at her very own party.
- The Pawful Truth – Charlie has enrolled in an early medieval history course offered by young, charismatic professor Carey Warriner. Charlie feels a bit out of place- his fellow classmates are half his age- except for Dixie Bell Compton, another ‘mature’ student. When Charlie hears an angry exchange between her and their professor, his interest is piqued. He’s even more intrigued when she shows up at his office asking for a study partner. Charlie turns her down and is saddened to learn just a few days later that Dixie has been killed.
- Careless Whiskers – Charlie Harris’s daughter, Laura, is starring in a production of Careless Whispers. The theater department at Athena College is debuting the play written by a fledgling playwright with local connections and Charlie’s son-in-law, Frank Salisbury, will be calling the directorial shots. Laura is upset to learn that Luke Lombardi, an overbearing actor she knew from her time in Hollywood will also be taking part in the production as a guest artist. Lombardi arrives with an entourage in tow and promptly proceeds to annoy everyone involved with the production. When he collapses and dies on stage, after drinking from a glass Laura handed him, she becomes the chief suspect in his murder.
- Cat Me If You Can – Charlie and Diesel, along with Charlie’s fiancee, Helen Louise Brady, are heading to Asheville, North Carolina, to spend a week at a boutique hotel and participate in a gathering of a mystery reader’s club composed of patrons of the Athena Public Library. When an intrusive, uninvited guest turns up dead, only one mystery club member with a connection to the deceased appears to have a motive to kill. But could the answer really be that simple? Charlie and Diesel, along with the detecting Ducote sisters, know that every murder plot has an unexpected twist.
- What the Cat Dragged In – Charlie has always believed that his grandfather had sold his house to his longtime tenant, Martin Hale. So when Martin dies, Charlie is surprised to discover the house was not left to Martin but instead belongs to Charlie. As he and Diesel check out the house he remembers fondly from his childhood, he is pleasantly surprised that it is in better condition than expected. That is, until they find a literal skeleton in a closet.
- Hiss Me Deadly – Charlie Harris remembers Wilfred “Wil” Threadgill as one of the outsiders during high school in Athena. Wil eventually became a star, fronting a band and writing award-winning songs. Coming back to Athena to work for two weeks with students in the college music department, Wil is now the big man on campus. Not everyone is happy to have him back, however. Some are protesting his music on moral grounds, and Wil and his entourage have been the target of several acts of petty harassment. When one of the band members is killed Charlie worries that Melba, now deeply involved with the man at the center of the attacks, could be in deadly danger.
If you like Cat in the Stacks, you may also want to see our guide to Sofie Kelly’s series, Sofie Ryan’s series, or our guide to the Booktown Mystery series. Don’t hesitate to follow us on Twitter or Facebook to discover more book series.