I love old movies. Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, Irene Dunne, Claudette Colbert, Clark Gable, Barbara Stanwyck, Fred McMurray, Rosalind Russell, Carole Lombard, Audrey Hepburn, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers – these were the great stars of Hollywood’s Golden Era (and yes I know I’ve left off a lot of names, so you can add your own favorites to the list). My favorite genre of movies from this period is screwball comedy. I love the fast-paced stories, the rapid-fire dialogue, and the subtle ways that sexual attraction is handled.
My favorite screwball comedies, you ask? Well, Bringing Up Baby tops the list, but close to the top are gems like The Awful Truth and Ball of Fire. I have seen my favorites numerous times. I like to re-watch my favorites for the same reasons that I like to re-read favorite books. It’s simply spending time with old friends, particularly old friends whom you can trust not to disappoint you.
There is at least one screwball murder mystery, The Mad Miss Manton, with Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda. It’s actually a fairly clever plot, and it’s well worth seeking out. So is The Lady Eve with the same two stars; it has crime as part of the plot, and Stanwyck and Fonda are superb in it.
When I was trying to come up with a title for the latest “Cat in the Stacks” novel, I found a list of movies titles that had been changed so that each had some kind of cat reference. The one that immediately attracted my attention was The Pawful Truth. It’s obviously a take-off on one of my favorites, named above, and that set me thinking.
What if? These are the two most useful words for a mystery writer. What if I took elements from the comic movie and used them in the plot of a murder mystery? How would that turn out?
The result was the latest book in the series, The Pawful Truth. If you’ve seen the movie, I hope you will enjoy some of the in-jokes in the story. If you haven’t seen it, I hope you’ll watch it at some point. It’s enormous fun, and I hope you also have fun with the story I have told.
ABOUT THE PAWFUL TRUTH
When Charlie Harris decides to go back to school, he and his Maine Coon cat, Diesel, find themselves entangled in a deadly lovers quarrel on campus in the latest installment of the New York Times bestselling series.
In addition to his library duties and his role as doting grandad, Charlie has enrolled in an early medieval history course offered by young, charismatic professor Carey Warriner. Charlie feels a bit out of place- his fellow classmates are half his age- except for Dixie Bell Compton, another ‘mature’ student. When Charlie hears an angry exchange between her and their professor, his interest in piqued. He’s even more intrigued when she shows up at his office asking for a study partner. Charlie turns her down and is saddened to learn just a few days later that Dixie has been killed.
Charlie wonders if Professor Warriner had anything to do with Dixie’s death. Warriner is married to a fellow professor who happens to be a successful author. There are rumors on campus that their marriage was on the rocks. Was Dixie’s death the result of a lovers’ triangle gone bad? Charlie soon discovers that the professor’s wife may have some secrets of her own and his suspect list is only getting longer.
As he and Diesel step further into the tangled web of relationships, someone else is viciously killed. Whose jealousy finally erupted into murderous rage? Was it a crime of passion or is there another more sinister motive? Charlie races to unravel this mystery: and to draw out the culprit, he may just have to put his own life on the line…