Review: ‘Claws for Alarm’ by T. C. LoTempio

Claws for Alarm Book Cover Claws for Alarm
A Nick and Nora Mystery
T. C. LoTempio
Cozy Mystery

Since inheriting her mother’s sandwich shop, Nora Charles is more about hot grilled paninis than cold-blooded murder—until her sister Lacey is arrested. The victim, an esteemed art collector and Lacey’s bullying professor, was stabbed in the heart. Apparently, all over a lousy grade. 
Off campus, things were just as dicey. The prof had an ex with secrets, a trophy wife set to inherit a fortune in masterworks, and a scorned student mistress. Going undercover, Nora realizes that investigating this crime is the biggest test of her sleuthing career. Because if she fails, even Nick’s animal instinct won’t be enough to rescue Lacey from a perfectly executed framing.

Claws for Alarm by T. C. LoTempio is the latest book in the Nick and Nora cozy mystery series, where tuxedo cat Nick uses his feline detective wiles to lead human guardian Nora in the direction of the truth, using scrabble tiles and general Houdini-like behaviour. I read the first book in the series, Meow If It’s Murder, about a year ago – I enjoyed it, and was happy to see what happened next.

I did like Claws for Alarm, but it wasn’t as engaging as Meow If It’s Murder. Nora rushes to the rescue of her sister, Lacey, who has been accused of murder. The pair don’t get on (for reasons that aren’t very clear), but blood is thicker than past grievances and Nora sets about proving her sister’s innocence. Head detective on the case – and past boyfriend/one-night-stand – replaces the cute FBI guy from book one; though LoTempio is clearly setting up for FBI guy and Homicide guy to fight over fiery red-head Nora in the next book… Nora promptly ignores requests to leave the sleuthing to the police, and nearly gets herself killed several times.

I found the mystery in this story intriguing. Twists and misdirects abounded, and I didn’t know who all of the baddies were and why they were bad until near the end. There were some good red herring characters! However, I’ve got to say I wasn’t 100% invested. Sure, I wanted Lacey to be cleared and the bad guys to be caught. But there wasn’t a great deal of character development, and Nora seemed dead set on working against the Police at every turn, despite assurances that they also didn’t think Lacey was the true killer. I wouldn’t say it went as far as being frustrating, but the book definitely lacked some of the brightness of the first book in the series. I’m looking forward to the next book, and am hoping it will regain a little of the pizazz of book one!


I received an ARC (advanced reader copy) of Claws for Alarm by T. C. LoTempio in exchange for a review and my honest opinion. 

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REVIEW: Meow If It’s Murder by T C LoTempio

Meow If It's Murder Book Cover Meow If It's Murder
A Nick and Nora Mystery
T C LoTempio

Nora Charles doesn’t believe in fate, even if she is a crime reporter who shares a name with a character from The Thin Man. In fact, she’s moving back to Cruz, California, to have a quieter life. But after finding an online magazine eager for material, and a stray cat named Nick with a talent for detection, Nora’s not just reporting crimes again. She’s uncovering them…
Back in her hometown, Nora reconnects with old friends and makes some new ones, like Nick, the charming feline who seems determined to be her cat. But not everything about Cruz is friendly. Writing for a local online magazine, Nora investigates the curious death of socialite Lola Grainger. Though it was deemed an accident, Nora suspects foul play. And it seems that her cat does too. 
Apparently, Nick used to belong to a P.I. who disappeared while investigating Lola Grainger’s death. The coincidence is spooky, but not as spooky as the clues Nick spells out for her with Scrabble letters—clues that lead her down an increasingly dangerous path. Whether fate put her on this case or not, solving it will take all of Nora’s wits, and maybe a few of Nick’s nine lives.  

I received a copy of Meow If It’s Murder by T C LoTempio in exchange for a review and my honest opinion. 

I thought this book was great. Immediately, I was captured by the characters. Nora Charles, an investigative reporter turned sandwich shop owner, can’t quite put a life of snooping behind her. When she hears about the drowning of a woman who is deathly afraid of water, she immediately suspects that there’s more to the story than the initial investigation turned up. Then, she finds a handsome feline on the stoop of her shop – and he leads her to a missing PI, who just happened to be investigating the same drowning.

Naming her new sidekick Nick, Nora starts digging into the mystery with his help – it turns out he’s a bit of an investigative guru! Along with a sarcastic, but very good-looking detective and a taro-reading best friend warning her of danger ahead, Nora refuses to give up on her hunch that something isn’t right.

This mystery was one that I would’ve loved curling up by the fireplace with (unfortunately it’s 38 degrees here in Australia today, so I sprawled out under the air conditioner instead!). I thought LoTempio did a great job of bringing the characters to life, and I felt at home with them from the very beginning. The mystery was also intriguing – what really happened at sea? Where is the missing PI? Is the cat really spelling out clues with Scrabble tiles?

Rather than making Nick the Sleuth cat some kind of magical creature, Nora immediately took to the plump feline and took his help with the investigating in her stride. I liked the mix of fact and frivolity; Nora took her investigation seriously, but the story was made more lighthearted by her themed sandwiches and kooky bestie.

I’ll definitely pick up the next book in this series when it comes out, and would recommend it to anyone who loves a cozy mystery with a powerful female (or feline!) at the helm!

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