Borrowed Crime

Praise for the Bookmobile Cat Mysteries

Tailing a Tabby

“What’s not to love about a bookmobile, a bookmobile driver who lives on a houseboat on a lake, and a friendly cat? . . . The librarian and her cat in the traveling bookmobile . . . make me eager to read future adventures featuring these two. Humor, a good plot, easy reading, likable characters, great setting.”

—Book Dilettante

“This book was almost impossible to put down. . . . The story is filled with humor and warmth.”

—MyShelf.com

“At times laugh-out-loud funny, at other time[s] touching, while many other times are fraught with hair-raising events. . . . If, like me, you can’t get better entertainment than a novel that includes a cat, an intelligent, thoroughly modern Nancy Drew, and books that are part of a library or a bookstore, you will want to read this as soon as possible!”

—Open Book Society

“With humor and panache, Cass delivers an intriguing mystery and interesting characters.”

Bristol Herald Courier (VA)

“A quick, fun, delightful read. You won’t want to put it down until the very last page!”

—Reader to Reader Reviews

Lending a Paw

“A charming start to the new Bookmobile Cat series. Librarian Minnie Hamilton is kindhearted, loyal, and resourceful. And her furry sidekick, Eddie, is equal parts charm and cat-titude. Fans of cozy mysteries—and cats—will want to add this series to their must-read lists.”

New York Times bestselling author Sofie Kelly

“The first in the series charms with a likable heroine, feisty and opinionated cat, and multidimensional small-town characters.”

—Kings River Life Magazine

“A pleasurable, funny read. Minnie is a delight as a heroine, and Eddie could make even a staunch dog lover more of a cat fan.”

Romantic Times

“This debut cozy is full of surprises and a lovely small-town setting. Chilson, Michigan, sounds like a place many readers will want to return to again and again. A great debut in a new series!”

—Debbie’s Book Bag

“This delightfully charming whodunit is a welcome addition to the cozy genre . . . a terrific read.”

—Dru’s Book Musings

“A pleasant read. . . .[Minnie is] a spunky investigator.”

—Gumshoe

Also by Laurie Cass

Lending a Paw

Tailing a Tabby

OBSIDIAN

Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Group (USA) LLC, 375 Hudson Street,

New York, New York 10014

USA | Canada | UK | Ireland | Australia | New Zealand | India | South Africa | China

penguin.com

A Penguin Random House Company

First published by Obsidian, an imprint of New American Library,

a division of Penguin Group (USA) LLC

Copyright © Janet Koch, 2015

Penguin supports copyright. Copyright fuels creativity, encourages diverse voices, promotes free speech, and creates a vibrant culture. Thank you for buying an authorized edition of this book and for complying with copyright laws by not reproducing, scanning, or distributing any part of it in any form without permission. You are supporting writers and allowing Penguin to continue to publish books for every reader.

OBSIDIAN and logo are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) LLC.

ISBN 978-0-698-17653-9

PUBLISHER’S NOTE

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Version_1

Contents

Praise

Also by Laurie Cass

Title page

Copyright page

Dedication

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Excerpt from POUNCING ON MURDER

To all who have known the love of a good cat.

“Mrr.”

Chapter 1

Some people are practically born knowing what they want to do with their lives. People like my older brother, who had his life plan scrawled out on a piece of paper by age seven, are the kind of folks who move from one goal to another, ticking things off their lists and achieving Big Things.

Other people wander through their early years without a clear path in mind, but still end up where they should have been all along. These would be people like my best friend, Kristen, who enjoyed high school chemistry so much that when the college-major decision came up, biochemistry seemed the obvious choice, and she ended up with a PhD. As it turned out, however, she did not enjoy working for a large pharmaceutical company, so she quit, came home to northern Michigan, kicked around ideas about what to do with the rest of her life, and opened up Three Seasons, which quickly became one of the finest restaurants in the region.

Then there’s me.

From age ten I knew I wanted to be a librarian, but beyond that I had no course charted out for my life. When I found a posting for assistant director at the district library in Chilson, Michigan, not long after I was handed my master’s degree in library and information science, though, I felt a ping of fate.

Chilson is a small tourist town in the northwest part of Michigan’s lower peninsula. It was where I’d spent childhood summers with my aunt Frances. It was where I’d met Kristen. It is a land of lakes and hills and has a laid-back atmosphere where “business casual” means “clean jeans and a shirt without too many wrinkles.” It was my favorite place in the entire world, and getting my dream job in a dream location was something I could not possibly have planned.

Of course, there were drawbacks, and that wasn’t even counting the facts that at thirty-three I was never going to grow past the five-foot mark, that my curly black hair was never going to straighten, and that I didn’t know how my beloved new bookmobile would handle the upcoming winter.

“He’s doing it again, Minnie,” Aunt Frances said.

We were sitting in her kitchen, because although the dining room that overlooked the tree-filled backyard was a lovely place to eat during the warm months, when the weather grew cooler, chill drafts curled around our ankles and the two of us beat a happy retreat to the warmth of the kitchen.

In summer, though, the kitchen wasn’t nearly big enough, because in June through August my aunt took in boarders. Six, to be exact: three female and three male, each of whom was single and unattached.

My aunt had an extensive interview process for her summer folks. Though she told the prospective boarders that she wanted to determine compatibility for the unusual living arrangements (the boarders cooked Saturday breakfast), she was actually starting her process of secret matchmaking. No one ever knew that they were being set up, and, in her years of taking in boarders, she’d failed only once, and even that wasn’t a complete failure.

But that had been last summer, back in the days of warmth and sunshine and a town busy with tourists. Now, in early November, the summer residents were long gone, the tourists wouldn’t be back until late May, and my aunt and I were rattling around in a house far too big for two, even with most of the upstairs rooms closed off.

Of course, sometimes it wasn’t nearly big enough for three, considering the nature of the third.

“Do you hear him?” Aunt Frances asked.

I did. I started to stand, but she waved me down. “Finish your breakfast. I’ll clean up his mess after the two of you leave. It’s not—”

“Mrr.”

Eddie, my black-and-white tabby cat, padded into the room and jumped onto my lap. His head poked up over the tabletop and he reached forward.

“Not a chance, pal.” I moved the bowl of oatmeal out of his reach. “You know the rules.”

Aunt Frances laughed. “He may know the rules, but I don’t think he has any intention of following them.”

Gently, I pushed at his head, trying to make him lie down, but he pushed it back up.

Down I pushed.

Up he came.

Down.

Up.

Down.

“You know he’s going to win,” Aunt Frances said.

“Shhh, don’t let him know.”

“From the noises we just heard, I’d say he already won the battle with the toilet paper.”

In summer, I lived at a marina on a small houseboat, but Eddie and I moved to the boardinghouse after my aunt’s guests were gone and the weather started to turn. Since then, Eddie had discovered that his new favorite toy was the roll of toilet paper in the kitchen’s half bath. And to Eddie, a toy couldn’t be a favorite unless he did his best to destroy it. Happily, toilet paper wasn’t expensive. At least in small quantities.

“You know,” I told the top of his head, ...

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