Authors: Patricia Fry
Just then, Craig walked in and hugged his wife. “How’d you ladies sleep all partnered up with each other on those couches?” he asked, chuckling.
Savannah made eye contact with Margaret, who was now helping her fold the blankets. “Better than I thought. I haven’t slept feet-to-feet on a sofa since my sister and I used to sleep together at our grandmother’s house.” She laughed. “Auntie only kicked me a few times.”
“Uh-uh,” Margaret said. She looked at Iris. “How’d you girls do on that other lumpy sofa? I didn’t hear any skirmishes going on over there.”
“Oh, I think we were all too tired to move last night,” Colbi said. “How about you guys, Craig? Did you and Ernie have a peaceful night in the cage room?”
He pursed his lips. “I thought you said things would be quiet in there since Lawrence Baker was in jail.”
Savannah looked puzzled. “Why? What happened?”
“Where do I start? Well, there was a rattling sound and a sort of a rumble…” When Ernie joined them, Craig asked, “Did you hear all that noise last night?”
Ernie’s eyes widened. “You mean that scratching sound and clattering? Yeah, what was that? A wild animal?”
Savannah laughed. “Probably the cats.”
“Or spirits,” Iris said. “I’ll bet Amos’s spirit hangs out here. I mean, where else would he go?”
“We don’t even know if he’s dead, do we?” Colbi asked while pouring apple juice into small jelly glasses. “I still think he’s living homeless somewhere.”
“Oh, he’d never survive on his own, do you think?” Savannah suggested.
“Is the coffee ready?” Craig asked.
“In a minute,” Iris told him impatiently.
“Who built the fire?” Craig asked, looking around.
“Iris and I,” Savannah said, smiling.
Craig gave them an approving look. “Good job.”
“Yeah, Vannie was a Girl Scout,” Margaret said as she joined the others in the kitchen.
“And she can row a boat,” Colbi added.
Craig put his arm around Savannah’s shoulders. “She’s a Jill-of-all-trades, that’s for sure. I keep trying to hire her…and her cat.”
“Where are the cats, anyway?” Savannah asked, looking around. She then noticed Maribelle emerging from the main bedroom. “Good morning. Did you sleep okay?”
Before she could answer, Craig asked, “Where’s Ann?”
“She’s up,” Maribelle said. “She’ll be here in a minute.” She then walked toward the living room window. “I feel a draft. Didn’t notice it last night.” Pushing a drape panel aside, she said, “Uh-oh, your patching job’s coming apart.”
“What?” Craig walked into the living room. When he opened the drapes, he said, “Damn. Water leaked in. The wind must have been blowing in this direction. Iris,” he called, “can you get me some towels to mop this up with?”
Savannah moved toward the window to get a better look. “Oh, my gosh. That whole piece of wood broke out. Oh no, the cats!” She turned to Colbi. “Do you think they’d…?”
Colbi winced and raced toward the window. “God, I hope not.” She then began walking through the cabin. “Dolly!” she called. “Rags! Where are you guys?”
At the same time, Savannah headed toward the basement. When the two women returned to the living room after their search, Savannah said, “Get your coat, Colbi. We’d better go out and look for them.”
“Oh my gosh, why would they go out…it’s muddy out there… Dolly has never done anything like that before.”
Margaret grinned. “That’s what happens when you let her run with riff-raff.” “Auntie, what a thing to say,” Savannah scolded.
Seconds later, the two women stepped out the front door. Craig followed with repair materials for the window and proceeded around to the other side of the porch.
“Someone’s coming,” Savannah noticed. And the threesome watched as a Jeep pulled into the driveway.
“It’s Ranger Hawkins,” Colbi observed. “He’s out early. I wonder if this means the roads are clear.”
“Oh, I sure hope so,” Savannah said. “I want to go home,” she whined pathetically. She stood waiting for the ranger to step out of the car, then greeted him. “What brings you out so early?”
He pulled the zipper on his jacket. “I’m on a special mission.”
In the meantime, Colbi began scouring the area with her eyes calling, “Kitty, kitty…”
That’s when Savannah spotted something in the ranger’s Jeep. “Rags!” she shouted.
“Where?” Colbi asked.
Savannah pointed, then looked at the ranger, who had a grin on his face. “Where did you find him?” When she saw Dolly peering through the windshield, she said, “I mean, them. Oh my gosh, Colbi, they’re in his car.” She turned back to the ranger. “How? Where?”
“Well, I had a call early this morning about a couple of stowaways.”
“Yeah. I guess they wanted to go for a boat ride.”
Savannah looked at the cats and back at the ranger. “What?”
Continuing to grin, he explained, “It seems a fisherman was rowing one of Skip’s skiffs across the lake to meet his buddy for a day of fishing. He said he was nearly halfway across when the big one there bobbed his head up and looked at him.” The ranger laughed. “The guy says he darn near jumped overboard, he was so startled. When he spotted the other cat and saw how friendly they were, he decided he’d better let someone know where they were and he called us. He texted a picture of them. Of course, I recognized them as your cats and I figured you’d want them back.”
Savannah started to laugh. “Oh my gosh, that’s a first! I mean, Rags has escaped before—he’s a real escape artist, as a matter-of-fact. He’s been catnapped, he’s burglarized the neighborhood, he’s ridden a horse, and he’s even ridden a bus by himself, but he’s never taken a boat out for a cruise.”
Colbi rushed to the car and opened the door, grabbing Dolly and cradling her in her arms. “Oh, my poor baby,” she crooned. “Did Rags try to lead you astray?”
“Hey,” Savannah said, reaching in and picking up Rags, “what makes you think it was his idea? Maybe Dolly wanted to go out on the town.”
“Oh, where’d you find them?” Craig asked returning to where the trio stood with the cats. By then the others had navigated to the front porch.
“They went across the lake in a boat,” Colbi announced.
“What?” Margaret said. “Did they row or motor?”
“A fisherman rowed them to the north shore.”
Amidst many comments, chuckles, and head-shaking, Savannah and Colbi invited the ranger in and offered him a cup of coffee.
“There will be hot cinnamon rolls in a few minutes,” Maribelle announced from the kitchen.
The ranger removed his jacket and draped it over the back of a chair. “Sounds great.” “So anything new?” Craig asked. “We’re kinda out of the loop over here, you know.”
Before Ranger Hawkins could respond, Ann walked into the room, still wearing Maribelle’s sweats. He stood stunned, staring at her. “Ann Schultz?” he asked.
She nodded. He pulled something out of his pocket and looked at it. “What’s your middle name, miss?” he asked.
After studying the copy of the woman’s driver’s license again, he asked, “What’s your address? Can you recite your address for me?”
“Yes, 294 Dover Way, Apartment Four.”
“Where have you been?” he asked, using a more compassionate tone. “And how did you get here?”
“It’s a long story,” she said, plopping down next to Margaret on the green sofa.
“I have all the time in the world.”
“How about giving us the scoop on the Baker case first,” Craig said. “I know these gals want to head home soon.”
The ranger hesitated before saying, “Well, we found the underwater burial ground.” He peered into his coffee mug. “It was the strangest thing. That lunatic had chained his victims under the dock of his parents’ former home. But lately, some of them have been breaking loose and showing up downriver partially decomposed.” He peered at Craig. “We don’t know if this is his intention or not. He could be trying to get rid of evidence.”
“How many were there?” Colbi asked.
“I believe the final tally was nine. There may have been some that got away from us—that washed on downstream. But we’ve accounted for nine.”
“Was my…” Craig started. He coughed. “Did you find evidence of Amos Sledge?”
The ranger shook his head. “It’s too early to be certain, but I’m pretty sure he was among them. There’s a long list of missing persons we have to go through to try matching with these bodies.”
In the meantime, Savannah noticed that Maribelle and Ernie were standing just inside the kitchen, listening. Ernie had his arm around his mother. She walked over to them and said quietly, “This must be painful for you to hear.”
As Maribelle fought back a barrage of emotion, Ernie said, “Yeah, painful, but not a total surprise.” Savannah remained quiet, and he continued, “We knew something wasn’t right with Father. He’d have spells, then things would level out and we’d think everything was okay, right Mother?”
She nodded and wiped a tear from her cheek. “But we didn’t know how bad it really was. We didn’t know he was actually harming people. We thought he was just playing those roles—we had no idea how far he was going with them.” She took a deep breath, turned, and said, “I think the cinnamon buns are ready.”
By eleven that morning, everyone was packed and ready to leave the mountain cabin. Ann had ridden down the hill with the ranger, who’d arranged to have her family meet them at the nearest sheriff’s office.
Ann’s abductors were arrested that morning while driving the mountain roads looking for her. Unbeknownst to them, she’d had the foresight to memorize their license plate number as she made her escape.
Maribelle and Ernie left the mountain, probably for good. They planned to settle in Southern California and open a restaurant together.
As the four friends carried their belongings to Savannah’s car, they noticed Craig putting the finishing touches on the boarded-up window. Once he’d finished, he announced, “The generator’s off, water pipes are drained. Everyone got everything?”
“Everything but the cats,” Savannah said. She stopped Iris as they headed back toward the cabin and wrapped her arms around her. “Girlfriend, I don’t know what to say. This has been…” When she noticed her aunt standing nearby grinning at her, she asked, “What, Auntie?”
“Oh, I’m just interested in what you’re going to say—how you’re going to describe the experience.”
Savannah grinned sheepishly. “Uh…well, yeah, what can I say?” When she noticed Iris’s rather sullen look, she said, “Iris, I’m so glad we got to spend your birthday with you.” She giggled a little. “It sure is one to remember.”
Colbi joined them. “Yeah, I won’t be forgetting it anytime soon.”
“You do know how to throw a party, Iris,” Margaret added.
“Well, it isn’t what I expected,” Iris admitted, “but I’m so glad you were all with me. I can’t think of anyone I’d rather spend my birthday with. Even if things did get a little crazy at times.” She smiled. “I had fun. But next year, maybe let’s do something a little more tame.”
“Yeah, like volunteer to fight a forest fire,” Margaret said.
“Or land in a war zone to deliver supplies,” Savannah suggested.
Colbi looked wide-eyed at the others. “How about we streak naked across the field at a Super Bowl game?”
Everyone looked at Craig when they heard him chuckle. “You gals are too much. Now next year when you come up here to party, remember…”
Savannah was first to interrupt. She waved her hand in Craig’s direction as she headed up the porch steps. “Oh no,” she said loudly. “Not me. Count me out.”
“Yeah, I’ve had enough of this rustic living to last me a lifetime,” Margaret grumbled.
Colbi rushed past Savannah toward the front door. “I’m not coming up here again, either. I’m done with the mountain-cabin thing.” She turned and looked at Craig. “I guess I’m a flatland girl at heart.”
Once they’d corralled the cats and loaded them into the SUV, Savannah asked, “Hey Iris, are you coming with us or are you going with Craig?”
Iris brushed a red curl off her forehead with one hand, looked at Craig, then at the women who were climbing into Savannah’s car. “Wait, I’m going with you guys. I don’t want to miss a moment of my birthday weekend with my BFFs.”
“Come on and get in, then,” Savannah called as she stepped into the driver’s seat. “All aboard who’s coming aboard,” she quipped.
“Oh, don’t even talk that boat language,” Margaret said, fastening her seatbelt.
As Craig watched Savannah pull the car out of the driveway and head down the mountain road, he was sure he heard a lively round of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat…” coming from inside the SUV.
Other books in the Klepto Cat Mystery series
When Savannah Jordan agrees to help her aunt while she recovers from a broken foot, she doesn’t expect to walk into a mystery, become part of a not-quite-legal surveillance team, be kidnapped by a deranged stranger and meet a steaming hot veterinarian.
Beloved neighborhood cats are missing—the community can only guess at their fate—and Aunt Margaret’s life is being threatened. Is it because she has a clue to the missing cats or is it something more sinister? Of course, as in all of the Klepto Cat Mysteries, Rags, an ordinary cat with a most unusual habit, has a paw in saving the day.
If you like light mysteries with only a little terror, if you’re infatuated by interesting cats and if you love a love story, you must read this book.
Savannah and Aunt Margaret open the old Forster home to the Hammond Cat Alliance for a fundraiser to help rehabilitate the abused horses rescued months earlier from the catnappers.
Before the afternoon is over, the collected funds go missing and someone is murdered in an upstairs bedroom.
Suspicion surrounds Iris, a local waitress and Savannah’s new best friend. The only witness to the murder is Rags, Savannah’s cat. With the assistance of a cat psychic and Rags’s good friend, Charlotte (the young girl with Downs), the cat helps to “paw” the killer… but not before an attempt is made on Rags’s life. The case is solved only after Rags comes face-to-face with the killer for the second time.
Detective Craig Sledge is new to this book, as is Damon, Iris’s errant son. Sledge finds this to be one of the muddiest cases he has ever worked, with inconsistent clues and no apparent motive. He’s constantly surprised, perplexed and impressed by the cat’s uncanny ability to come up with clues he has missed. His fascination with the attractive Iris Clampton also mystifies the detective.
In this story, one of the rescued horses goes into labor and there’s a night of high drama at the ole corral as veterinarians Savannah and Michael work to save the foal. This experience renews Savannah’s deep interest in horses and riding, which ultimately serves to help her bond with a very important surprise character who finds his way into her life and Michael’s just as they prepare to say their wedding vows.
While Rags is the animal star, he isn’t the only animal featured in this story. Layla is back in all of her tangerine feline beauty. And Rags makes friends with Buffy, a perky almost Himalayan cat and the inseparable duo, Walter, an all black cat and his sidekick, Lexie, a charming Afghan mix dog. Savannah’s new ride, Peaches, also debuts in this story. An incident with this mare adds another dimension to Savannah’s and Michael’s relationship. Can he hold her with open arms?
Some say this is a love story with a mystery in the background. And it’s a story of family and friendship as newlyweds Margaret and Max continue to be a meaningful part of Savannah’s and Michael’s world.
Sleight of Paw
In this story, Michael Ivey, the local veterinarian (Savannah’s new husband) is attacked by an enraged client and then later accused of this man’s murder. The evidence quickly stacks up against Michael, until Rags, Savannah’s kleptomaniac cat, starts digging up clues implicating the unlikely suspect.
Coinciding with the details of this challenge is the discovery that the old house, which the couple purchased from Savannah’s aunt, is cursed. Is this why the couple has not been blessed with a child?
Savannah’s sister Brianna comes for a visit. She teams up with the Iveys’ vet tech, Bud, to discover how to break the gypsy spell and they fall hard for each other. Will their courtship be strengthened or weakened by a frightening carjacking incident?
Detective Craig Sledge is prominent in this story as the lead investigator in the murder case. As usual, he engages in some creative tactics to get the information and the confessions he’s after. He has also become embedded in Savannah’s friend, Iris’s family. He’s dating Iris and helping with her son, Damon’s rehabilitation in prison. If you read the 2
in the series, you know that Rags (the cat) helped to put Damon in jail.
A popular local journalist goes missing just before she has the opportunity to turn in her story exposing unscrupulous cat hoarders. Not only is Colbi a friend of Savannah’s and Michael’s, Damon (now out of prison and employed by the local newspaper) has a strong personal interest in her. In fact, Damon breaks some rules and some trusts in his search for Colbi.
Is this a love connection? It’s doubtful because Colbi is a strong advocate for the feral cat population and Damon hates cats—or so he believes.
Colbi’s rescue is almost too late. She needs time to heal both physically and emotionally. So the Iveys invite her to recuperate in their home. Just when Colbi begins to feel safe, a body is discovered in the Iveys’ orchard and Rags (their kleptomaniac cat) goes missing. Can someone in a nearby homeless camp shed some light on the evolving mystery?
The Colony Cat Caper
Savannah Ivey, a veterinarian out on maternity leave; her aunt Margaret, the founder of the Hammond Cat Alliance; and Colbi Stanton, a reporter for the local newspaper take on a cat colony at an old, abandoned building. Odd activity around the place makes them wonder if it actually is vacant; some believe it’s occupied by something other-worldly.
When a stranger comes to town and suggests the Alliance open the old building to a fund-raiser, everyone gets involved, including Rags, Savannah’s kleptomaniac cat. He finds something that day that stirs a lot of people—both law-abiding and crooks—into action. Are the feral cats and their caretakers in serious danger? What (or who) lurks inside the old building? What secrets does it hide? And who has the key that unlocks the mystery?
The Celebrity Cat Caper
Rags, the kleptomaniac cat, opens up a whole new bag of tricks, when he becomes a therapy cat in a children's reading program. A documentary film crew arrives to capture the cat in action and they get more than they bargained for. Find out how Rags handles his sudden celebrity status.
In this story, Savannah and Michael Ivey invite strangers into their home during a torrential rainstorm and learn that one of them has a sinister past. Someone is murdered, Savannah is stalked, Michael's life is threatened, and Rags helps to uncover an old mystery that, until now, has everyone baffled.
The Iveys' baby Lily is three-and-a-half-months old and, along with nine-year-old Adam, provides some sweet and warm moments throughout this fast-moving story with many twists and turns.
The Corral Cat Caper
The Corral Cat Caper features a lot of horse energy. It's rich in adventure of the feline as well as equine sort. In one scene, Rags attempt to save their sweet kitty, Buffy, from a catnapper and Savannah helplessly watches this drama unfold via a surveillance camera app on her phone.
This story is full of sweet and evil surprises, unexpected twists and turns, and plenty of action and adventure.
The Gallery Cat Caper
An old friend of Michael’s, who has become a successful artist, invites the entire Ivey family to his beach house. But their vacation is not all fun-and-games. It appears that someone is out to get the artist; and the Iveys and their friends keep stumbling upon clues to the tangled mystery.
Rags is up to his old klepto tricks, and it’s a good thing because, not only do his uncat-like antics prove to be amusing, he manages to save two lives.
Join the hilarity and suspense as this mystery unfolds. Enjoy some of your favorite human and animal characters as well as a few new ones, all of them giving this story a light and rich quality.
Mansion of Meows
Rags's documentary is scheduled to debut. The showing will take place at the investor's San Francisco mansion, where the Ivey family and film crew will stay. Of course, the mansion holds secrets and Rags is instrumental in letting the cats out of the bag.
Savannah and Aunt Margaret share another daring adventure and, of course, find themselves in deeper than they expected.
This mystery may be the most eerie in the Klepto Cat Mystery series.
PAWtners in Crime
When Michael and Savannah invite young burn victim and heir Arthur Spence into their home, they don’t expect danger to follow. The sensationalism around his family’s dark secrets have the paparazzi in a photo-snapping frenzy and the young man isn’t yet equipped to deal with their shenanigans. Are they issuing the unnerving threats to Arthur’s life, or is it a beloved family member? Rags, the kleptomaniac cat, has a new PAWtner in fighting crime and what a team they make. They delight in sticking their noses and digging their claws into the facts of the frightening matter. Hold onto your seats—there are some harrowing moments in this story, and some startling surprises.
The Ivey family travel to San Francisco to help Arthur and his long-time friend, Suzette, clean out the mansion. News of the massive estate sale lures a variety of people, including former residents and long-ago visitors, each carrying stories of bizarre activities occurring there in the past.
When the klepto cat, Rags and his pawtner Koko make some ghastly and ghostly discoveries, everyone goes into research mode and they’re stunned by what they uncover - evidence of people gone missing, a treasure-trove of loot, and spirits unable to rest. This is by far the most PAWSitively Sinister story in the series.
The Purrfect Lie
When the Iveys and the Sheridans find a deathbed confession letter, Savannah and her Aunt Margaret spring into action. Is Savannah’s imagination playing tricks on her or has she stumbled upon the unaware kidnap victim mentioned in the letter? In the meantime, there’s trouble at the Sheridans’ cat shelter and Rags, the kleptomaniac cat, leaps right into the middle of the tangled mess. Only the cat knows who is putting his feline friends in danger. Meet some interesting new characters in this story and be prepared to laugh and to cry. The feel-good ending is worth the admission price of this book.
A Picture-Purrfect Christmas
A spellbinding story of love, hope, and a child's innocent Christmas dreams. When Savannah Ivey agrees to teach photography to a group of at-risk children, she doesn't expect a sweet-spirited little crippled girl to steal her heart and become an important part of her family. Even Rags, the kleptomaniac cat, is captivated by the child named Marissa. When she goes missing, everyone, including Rags, experiences the pain of loss.
Detective Craig Sledge fears that Marissa's unscrupulous, non-custodial father may be behind her disappearance and the search escalates into high gear. When even a pack of rescue dogs can't find the child, the detective turns to Rags and everyone prays for a Christmas miracle. Can Rags succeed where the others have failed?
While this story involves some intense drama, it will also make you smile and even laugh out loud. Bring out the tissues for the beautiful ending. A Picture-Purrfect Christmas is one of those feel-good holiday stories you'll want to read over and over again.
Meow for the Money
In this story, Rags, the klepto cat, saves a beautiful Himalayan when he finds her near death one chilly night. Did this pampered kitty escape or was she abducted? Her wealthy owner, June Balcomb, can only guess. June is so grateful to Rags that she embraces the entire Ivey family, and Savannah and Rags become frequent visitors at the Balcomb estate. It doesn’t take Savannah long to realize someone close to June is out to harm her. The plot thickens when those June relies on most come under attack, her grandnephew is kidnapped, her attorney stabbed, and a trusted employee dies. When someone attempts to poison one of her cats, June agrees to bring in a whole new staff—all friends of the Iveys. Against the advice of others, she also hires a young woman who was only recently released from jail. Will things calm down for June once she has sent her staff and relatives away? Not until Detective Craig and Savannah, with a lot of help from Rags, start stirring things up.
Claws for a Cause
Just when Michael and Savannah Ivey think their tropical vacation is over, a stranger arrives from the islands with demands they cannot fulfill. Imminent danger follows as a frantic search for the mysterious missing item ensues. Savannah is drawn into a friend’s dilemma when Colbi’s long-lost brother returns—an event that becomes personal for Savannah. When Rags, the klepto cat, finds incriminating evidence that this man might not be who he claims to be, chaos becomes the order of the day and Colbi’s life begins to unravel. In the meantime, there are rumors of wolves terrorizing the neighborhood and locals take up arms against them with some frightening results. All the while, Rags keeps a secret that puts his family in peril, but two unlikely friends team up to thwart a potentially bloody duel.