Faux Paw


A Midwinter’s Tail

“Kelly has woven life in a small town, murder, and a sense of community into a fine tail. Winter in Mayville Heights can be cold, but the friendships are warm.”

—Kings River Life Magazine

“To say this is one of my favorite cozy series would be an understatement. I think this is one series that gets better with age. . . . Sofie Kelly is a brilliant storyteller and definitely on my ‘autobuy’ list.”

—Socrates’ Book Reviews

“Kelly has found her rhythm with this great mystery series. The tension between Kathleen and Marcus finally seems to have developed into a strong relationship. With great characters and an interesting story, readers will be in for a treat with this classic whodunit.”

RT Book Reviews

Final Catcall

“Kelly hits a home run. The book’s plot is spectacular. There is a new twist, along with a new suspect, around every corner. With the addition of romantic tangles, this makes for an excellent addition to the already outstanding series.”

RT Book Reviews

“Owen and Hercules are a delight.”

—Kings River Life Magazine

“The author is brilliant in not only writing character portrayals, but in creating a mystery complete with twists and turns that will keep the reader trying to figure it all out. . . . I absolutely could not put it down.”

—Socrates’ Book Reviews

Cat Trick

“Match two magical kitties with an extremely inquisitive librarian and a murder or two and you have all the makings of an extraordinary mystery series . . . a captivating cozy!”

—Escape with Dollycas into a Good Book

“The characters are likable and the cats are darling.”

—Socrates’ Book Reviews

“Small-town charm and a charming cat duo make this every cat fancier’s dream.”

—The Mystery Reader

Copycat Killing

“I’ve been a huge fan of this series from the very start, and I am delighted that this new book meets my expectations and then some. . . . Cats with magic powers, a library, good friends who look out for each other and small-town coziness come together in perfect unison. If you are a fan of Miranda James’s Cat in the Stacks mysteries, you will want to read [this series].”


“This is a really fun series, and I’ve read them all. Each book improves on the last one. Being a cat lover myself, I’m looking at my cat in a whole new light.”

—Once Upon a Romance

“A fun whodunit. . . . Fans will appreciate this entertaining amateur sleuth.”

—Genre Go Round Reviews

“This charming series continues on a steady course as the intrepid Kathleen has two mysteries to snoop into. . . . Readers who are fans of cats and cozies will want to add this series to their must-read lists.”

RT Book Reviews

Sleight of Paw

“Kelly’s appealing cozy features likable, relatable characters set in an amiable location. The author continues to build on the promise of her debut novel, carefully developing her characters and their relationships.”

RT Book Reviews

Curiosity Thrilled the Cat

“A great cozy that will quickly have you anxiously waiting for the next release so you can spend more time with the people of Mayville Heights.”

—Mysteries and My Musings

“If you love mystery and magic, this is the book for you!”

—Debbie’s Book Bag

“This start of a new series offers an engaging cast of human characters and two appealing, magically inclined felines. Kathleen is a likable, believable heroine, and the magical cats are amusing.”

RT Book Reviews

Also Available from Sofie Kelly

Curiosity Thrilled the Cat

Sleight of Paw

Copycat Killing

Cat Trick

Final Catcall

A Midwinter’s Tail


Published by New American Library,

an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014

This book is an original publication of New American Library.

Copyright © Penguin Random House LLC, 2015

Penguin Random House 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 Random House to continue to publish books for every reader.

Obsidian and the Obsidian colophon are trademarks of Penguin Random House LLC.

For more information about Penguin Random House, visit penguin.com.

ISBN 978-0-698-17831-1


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.




Also Available from Sofie Kelly

Title Page




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

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Excerpt from The Whole Cat and Caboodle

About the Author

To all the readers who have embraced Kathleen, Owen and Hercules, my heartfelt thanks. This one’s for you.


My deepest thanks:

To my editor, Jessica Wade, and the production team at Penguin Random House for all of their hard work on this book and the entire Magical Cats series.

To my agent, Kim Lionetti, for helping turn writing dreams into reality.

To retired police chief Tim Sletten for his patience and good humor.

And to Patrick and Lauren, just because.

I couldn’t do this without you!


There was a severed head on the blue patterned quilt folded at the bottom of the bed. I turned my head slowly and looked into the eyes of a killer. He stared unblinkingly at me. It would have been terrifying if the head hadn’t been from a yellow catnip Fred the Funky Chicken and the eyes hadn’t belonged to my little black-and-white cat, Hercules.

“What did you do?” I asked, frowning at him.

“Merow,” he said, looking from the disembodied chicken head to me. If the cat had been a person I would have said that there was a touch of righteous indignation in his tone.

Hercules’s brother, Owen, had a thing for catnip chickens. My neighbor Rebecca and my best friend, Maggie, were always buying them for Owen, much to his delight.

Hercules didn’t see the appeal of catnip at all, and he especially didn’t like dried bits of it in his things. For the past few months Owen’s chickens had been turning up in his brother’s territory: upside down in Hercules’s dinner dish, making a lump in the middle of his favorite blanket and sitting in what he considered to be his spot on the bench in the sun porch. As far-fetched as it seemed, I knew something was going on. It was almost as if Hercules was doing this on purpose, although I didn’t quite see why.

I stretched, slid my feet into my slippers and stood up. “Owen is not going to take this well,” I said to Hercules.

“Murp,” he replied, dropping back to the floor. He looked up at me, green eyes narrowed, furry chin jutting out.

“This isn’t going to fix anything,” I said, heading for the bathroom. Hercules trailed me, making little noises as though he were trying to justify swiping the catnip toy and decapitating it.

Just then I heard a loud, furious yowl from downstairs. Herc’s furry head swiveled at the sound. I leaned down and gave the top of his head a quick scratch. “You’re on your own,” I said. Then I darted into the bathroom and closed the door.

Of course that was pointless. If Hercules had been an ordinary cat he would have stayed on the other side of the door, in the hallway. But he wasn’t. So he didn’t.

Hercules had a . . . unique ability. He could walk through walls—and closed bathroom doors. Which he did. An area on the wood panel door seemed to shimmer for a moment and then the cat was standing at my feet. I had no idea how he did it. And it wasn’t like I could ask anyone. Walking though walls defied the laws ...

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