"Collectors, Cats & Murder" By Kathy Manos Penn: Review/Giveaway

Review by Kathleen Costa

Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win an ebook copy of the book and a link to purchase it.

Ex-Pat in the Cotswolds

After losing her husband in a tragic accident, Aleta Petkas Parker took a leap of faith, retired from decades as a successful banker, and moved to the small Cotswold village of Astonbury. She didn’t arrive alone, though, she had two delightful fur companions as roommates whom she christened appropriately: a dwarf Great Pyrenees named Dickens and an opinionated black cat named Christie. Life as an ex-pat is filled with yoga classes, book clubs, and nice friendships, yet sleuthing wasn’t on her original bucket list. Her keen observational skills along with some “sleuthing buddies” has made her invaluable to the local constabulary’s investigations and spurred the Little Old Ladies’ Detective Agency (LOL). She is, howbeit, hiding a unique ability that even her close friends are unawares, but has provided her with an “advantage” over the local detectives. She can converse with Dickens and Christie. Others may hear barking and meowing, but Leta hears insights, clues, and demands for food, walks, and general needs for attention!

➡ switch to KingsRiverLife.com for more articles ⬅

Collectors, Cats & Murder earns 4.5/5 Collectibles...Engaging Entertainment!

Dave Prentice, journalist and Leta’s good friend with benefits, has returned to England to speak at the Chipping Camden Literary Festival on his article about the local discovery of a J.M. Barrie manuscript. Teddy Byrd, owner of the Chipping Camden bookshop Bluebird Books, considers himself a discerning collector with some very interesting acquisitions including a typewriter and fountain pen allegedly belonging to Barrie himself. Dave’s talk was well received and deserving of a toast with “champers” and good friends, and since Leta and Dave decided to return to Astonbury the next day, they were eager to accept an invitation by Byrd to drop by to peruse his collection. However, tragedy hits when knocking doesn’t alert Byrd of their arrival. Dickens locates a frightened cat named Watson who explains something’s wrong. Dave enters the cottage, then returns ashen white. Teddy Byrd is dead. Natural causes? Leta hopes so because Dave hasn’t been too keen with her curiosity in the past. But, murder? Dave will make sure Leta is safe with personal protection devices, and maybe join in as Tommy to her Tuppence.

Brilliant! Kathy Manos Penn has made literature, senior detectives, and murder fun in her fourth book in her Dickens & Christie Mystery series. I am new to her series, so I worried I’d be at a disadvantage, however, referring often to the “Cast of Characters,” separated into The Americans and The Brits, was helpful with basic background and connections. It did still take several chapters to catch up with all the characters and their place in the drama. I am always in when Great Britain is the setting, especially a countryside locale, and Penn has created with her descriptive language a wonderful village and close-knit community that fans, like me, have added to their “literary” bucket list. It’s also nice to have the core group of characters as women of “a certain age” with which I easily identify with their ideas and perspectives. Their personalities are varied and often well illustrated by the clever banter. The “I can talk to animals” element was a surprise, but it is not handled in a juvenile manner. The banter back and forth with her “fur” friends is easily woven into the story and often a source of humor like an inside joke.

Penn’s story is organized with a flashback. The death is revealed early, then “The previous Saturday” sends readers back in time. It slowed things down a bit, holding off revealing the official determination of murder and the subsequent investigation. The flashback details were not directly related to what readers know is coming, but it does help newbies with revisiting Leta’s past tragedy, relationship with Dave, and connections with her new circle of friends. Once the flashback catches up with real-time the clues and connections start to become very compelling with fascinating avenues of investigation incorporating the big business of collectibles, memorabilia, antiques, and...criminals. All said and done, the clever tale, diverse characters, and “justice served” moment make this a page-turner favorite; I look forward to reading more.

Bonuses I Like! Enjoy an easy-to-follow recipe connected to Leta’s Greek heritage, Pastitsio (puh-steet-see-ow). Kathy also includes helpful Tips to make the recipe your own. Also an element I relish in many cozies is the inclusion of facts, tips, and historical references. Off to Google, I go! J.M. Barrie? Connection between J.M. Barrie and Arthur Conan Doyle? Doyle and Bram Stoker? J.M. Barrie’s amateur cricket team, the Allahakbarries? The novel The Sherlockian by Graham Moore? It was fun going beyond Kathy Manos Penn’s story.

A Dickens & Christie Mystery

Bells, Tails & Murder (2020)

Pumpkins, Paws & Murder (2020)

Whiskers, Wreaths & Murder (2020)

Collectors, Cats & Murder (2021)

Be a Big Kathy Manos Penn Fan!

Kathy Manos Penn “pens” this delightful four-book A Dickens & Christie Mystery series with a fun “woman of a certain age” making her way in the Cotswolds with a dwarf Great Pyrenees dog Dickens and black cat Christie...mystery seems destined to enter her life.

Facebook: Kathy Manos Penn, Author

Website: Kathy Manos Penn Cozy Animal Mystery Author

To enter to win an ebook copy of Collectors, Cats & Murder, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line "collectors,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen March 20, 2021. US residents only and you must be 18 or older to enter. If entering via email please include your mailing address in case you win. BE AWARE THAT DUE TO THE CURRENT CRISIS THERE MAY BE A DELAY IN SHIPPING THE WINNING BOOK. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section in Kings River Life and in our mystery category here on KRL News & Reviews. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. And check out our new mystery podcast which features mystery short stories and first chapters read by local actors! A new episode went up this week.

You can use this link to purchase the book. If you have adblocker on you may not be able to see the Amazon link:

Kathleen Costa is a long-time resident of the Central Valley, and although born in Idaho, she considers herself a “California Girl.” Graduating from CSU-Sacramento, she is a 35+ year veteran teacher having taught in grades 1-8 in schools from Sacramento to Los Angeles to Stockton to Lodi. Currently Kathleen is enjoying her retirement revitalizing hobbies along with exploring writing, reading for pleasure, and spending 24/7 with her husband.
Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.


  1. Sounds interesting! Count me in!

  2. Sounds interesting! Count me in!

  3. Love the cover! Would really love to read.

  4. Sounds like a fun read and I love the cover! JL_Minter(at)hotmail(dot)com

  5. This is a new to me author. I will go and check out this series. (Cats help)

  6. This book sounds like it would be a fun and enjoyable read.

    allibrary (at) aol (dot) com


Post a Comment