BEA'S BOOK NOOK "I can't imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once." C. S. Lewis “If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.” ― Oscar Wilde

Friday, November 2, 2012

Review of What the Cat Saw by Carolyn Hart

Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Series: Nela Farley #1
Release Date: October 2, 2012
Buying Links:  Amazon   Barnes & Noble   The Book Depository

Book Blurb (from goodreads):

National bestselling author Carolyn Hart presents an original new novel about a woman with a curious ability that drops her headfirst into a world of intrigue and murder

Ever since the death of her fiancĂ©, Nela Farley has found herself plagued by a sixth sense: she understands the thoughts of cats when she looks into their eyes. Nela knows that what she’s experiencing is completely irrational and tries to convince herself that she is simply transferring her own thoughts that she doesn’t want to face. 

When her adventurous sister, Chloe, goes on a trip and asks for a favor, Nela welcomes the distraction and agrees to substitute at Chloe’s job at a charitable foundation. Chloe has arranged a place for her sister to stay, but when Nela shows up, she encounters the previous tenant’s cat and gets a flash of thought: “. . . dead . . . dead and gone . . . She loved me . . . board rolled on the second step . . .” 

Nela wants to ignore what the cat saw, but the idea that the death of former tenant Marian Grant wasn’t an accident is something she can’t ignore. As Nela begins to do some research into Marian’s life, strange events begin to occur, all seeming to lead back to the Haklo Foundation. But when a detective becomes suspicious of Nela’s sister and a second murder occurs, Nela realizes she’ll have to make the most of her unwanted ability to figure out what’s really going on, before she meets her own untimely end… 


Steve liked Nela's voice. Not high. Not low. Kind of soft. A voice you could listen to for a long time. She looked small in an oversize chintz-covered chair, dark hair still tangled by the wind, face pale, dark shadows beneath her eyes. Bu she no longer seemed remote as she had in his first glimpse at Hamburger Heaven.
His eyes slid from her to a photograph on the table next to her chair. A dark-haired laughing man in a tee and shorts stood near an outcrop of black rocks on a beach, the wind stirring his hair. Across the bottom of the photograph was a simple inscription: To Nela-Love, Bill. A red, white and blue ribbon was woven through the latticed frame.
Steve was accustomed to figuring from one fact to another. The picture had to belong to Nela. To carry the photograph with her as she traveled meant that the man and place mattered very much to her. He was afraid he knew exactly why the ribbon was in place and that would account for the undertone of sadness that he'd observed.
 But tonight, she was fully alive, quick intelligence in her eyes, resolve in her face, a woman engaged in a struggle to survive. The brown tabby nestled next to her. One slender hand rested on the cat's back. As she spoke, she looked at him with a direct stare that said she was in the fight for as long as it took.
Reviewed By: Bea

Bea's Thoughts:

When I first read the blurb for this book I thought, "This could be really good or really awful." Hearing cat's thoughts? That's sci fi or paranormal, depending on how it's handled. Would she anthropomorphize the cat? I hadn't read Hart before but I knew she had a good reputation so I took a chance and agreed to review it. I'm glad I did and I'll read the next book in this series and seek out some of her other books.

Nela is grieving the death of her fiance and also the loss of her job as an investigative reporter. When her sister Chloe goes on a vacation, Nela flies in to cover her at her job; while that sets up the story, I had a hard time finding it believable. Chloe works for a reputable philanthropic foundation, how likely is that they'd agree to this arrangement? Surely there's someone who could fill, or they could use a temp agency. That bothered me on and off throughout the story.

The first night Nela is at Chloe's apartment, someone breaks in and trashes the place. The police investigate and believe Nela did it herself. In the meantime, Nela has heard the cat's thoughts and this isn't the first time it has happened. What she hears, combined with what she learns about Marian's death, lead her to believe that Marian was murdered. Meanwhile, there are problems at the foundation where she's filling in and  soon she's investigating Marian's death and the problems at Haklo while dealing with the police, who are investigating her. In the midst of all this, she meets Steve, a reporter for the local paper. There's mutual interest, though there are trust issues and both have been hurt emotionally, Steve by his ex-wife and Nela by her fiance's death.

I had some qualms about how the psychic part of the book would be handled. The story is basically a straight contemporary story with just a hint of paranormal. Nela doesn't know how or why she can pick up cat's thoughts; at first she thought she might be having mental problems and she still isn't completely sure she's not but she becomes more willing to give credence to what she hears. Hart doesn't try to have cats think in full human fashion. Nela does pick up words but it's scattered words, not complete sentences, and the cats don't seem to be able to read Nela's thoughts. Hart doesn't give us an explanation for Nela's thoughts, which works in this book, but could get annoying if the series continues.  Overall, I thought she handled it well.

I liked "What the Cat Saw". Nela and Steve are likable, flawed but decent people. The mystery is tightly written and the story flows, my only gripe about it was the implausibility of Nela filling in for Chloe. The book is as much as about Nela coping with all of the changes in her life as it is about the mystery and Hart blends the two seamlessly for an emotional, gripping story.

I received a hardcover for review from Bab's Book Bistro.


  1. Nice review, thanks. You got me intrigued about a book I probably wouldn't have noticed otherwise.

  2. I like the idea of this book. I think it looks to be a good read.

  3. I really enjoyed this book. How I envied Nela and her ability to know what Jugs was thinking. Deft touch with the paranormal, an intriguing mystery and a tender romance (in the early stages, between Nela and Steve.) Looking forward to the sequel, can't wait to see how this all turns out. Is Nela's gift a blessing or a curse? Hoping the next release is coming soon!


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