Cat Deck the Halls (Joe Grey Series #13)

Cat Deck the Halls (Joe Grey Series #13)

by Shirley Rousseau Murphy

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The cats who saved Christmas . . .

The charming seaside village of Molena Point, California, leads one to expect a quiet traditional Christmas surrounded by family and friends—but not this holiday season. Instead of singing carols and climbing into Christmas trees, Joe Grey, feline P.I., is faced with his most difficult case yet—and that's saying a lot for a wily tomcat who for years has been solving crimes the police can't even crack.

At midnight in the deserted gardens of the shopping plaza, a stranger lies dead beneath the village Christmas tree; the only witness to the shooting is a little child. But when the police arrive, summoned by an anonymous phone call of feline origin, both the body and the child have disappeared. As police scramble for leads, the grey tomcat, his tabby lady, and their tortoiseshell pal, Kit, launch their own unique investigation.

Together Joe Grey, Dulcie, and Kit face their most heartbreaking case yet as they care for the child who may be the killer's next target. Trying to sort out perplexing clues amidst the happiness of the season, they shadow a cast of colorful characters. But neither the police nor their unknown feline assistants are aware that they might have stumbled over the murderer and never known it, until an electrifying final scene when the killer's identity is revealed.

For years Shirley Rousseau Murphy has written tales that have delighted readers and critics alike. With her lyrical prose and fast-paced plotting, Murphy has created another delightfully absorbing trip to a magical place populated by unforgettable characters whom readers have come to think of as friends.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061123962
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 10/28/2008
Series: Joe Grey Series , #13
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 268,718
Product dimensions: 6.78(w) x 4.12(h) x 1.01(d)

About the Author

Shirley Rousseau Murphy is the author of twenty mysteries in the Joe Grey series, for which she has won the Cat Writers’ Association Muse Medallion nine years running, and has received ten national Cat Writers’ Association Awards for best novel of the year. She is also a noted children’s book author, and has received five Council of Authors and Journalists Awards. She lives in Carmel, California, where she serves as full-time household help to two demanding feline ladies.

Read an Excerpt

Cat Deck the Halls
A Joe Grey Mystery

Chapter One

He reached the village half an hour before midnight, cutting over from San Jose to Highway One, on the coast, the child tucked up warm in the seat behind him. She slept soundly, her faded doll clutched close to her, one of its angel wings tucked beneath the seat belt. He had made a wide nest for her, had filled the floor well with the cheap pillows he'd bought in the first drugstore he came to, and with their two duffel bags. With the blanket laid over, the backseat of the rental car was just like a regular bed. She had a new drawing pad and crayons and a picture book back there, but she hadn't touched them much. Any other six-year-old would be raging for action, bored out of her mind, wanting to run and work off steam—as she once had, he thought sadly, seeing a sharp picture of her when she was smaller, laughing on the park swings and chasing a ball in their walled garden.

Above the highway, the night sky was black, he could see no stars, no moon. The only illumination came from flashing car lights racing north on the freeway as he and the sleeping child headed south from the airport. The car was rocked periodically in bouts of wind and rain, the storm raging and then easing off only to return every few miles. He was worn-out from the trip, from the long waits going through security, the delayed schedules and plane changes. He'd made the call from San Jose but had to leave a message, said the flight was delayed, that he'd just swing by and if he saw no light he'd get a motel and they'd be there in the morning. It was too late, tonight, to get anyone out of bed.

He was hungry,though. Their simple supper seemed ages past. He hoped the child would be hungry—if she woke at all. At last, heading downhill into the small seaside village, he left the heavy traffic, passing only three cars, all coming uphill as if maybe going home to the hillside houses behind him. The streets were slick from rain. He rolled his window down and could smell the sea. With the wind easing off, he could hear the surf, too, crashing half a mile ahead; that would be at the end of Ocean Avenue, he remembered from the map.

Driving halfway through the village, he turned up into gentler hills among close-set cottages. Molena Point had no street lamps, its narrow streets were dark beneath the trees. Shining his headlights on street signs, he found the house he wanted, but not by an address, there weren't any house numbers in the village. He wasn't able to see much on the dark streets, but he found his destination by its description and he slowed, looking. Yes, everyone was in bed. He started to get out, to see if there was a note on the door, but something made him pause.

Parking for just a minute, studying the house, he thought he saw movement in the shrubbery, something dark and stealthy. Puzzled, he watched uneasily, then decided it was nothing, just shadows. What was wrong with him? Tired. Tired from the trip, and from tending to the child. Her malaise dragged him down real bad. Though the shifting of shadows was not repeated, still he felt edgy, and did not leave the car; he didn't feel right again until he'd moved on, made a U-turn in the black, empty street and headed back down to the village.

Even in the small business section, the streets were lit only by the soft illumination from shop windows shining down onto the wet sidewalks, and by the softly colored lights of motel signs reflected on the slick, mirroring surfaces. He saw two motels with their vacancy signs lit, but first he moved on, looking for a café. Each shop window gleamed like a small stage set with its own rich wares, diamonds and silver, expensive leather and cashmere, imported china, Italian shoes, oil and watercolor paintings and bronze and marble sculpture, a feast of riches for such a small village. Windows stacked with children's books, too, and with toys, and brightly wrapped Christmas boxes to entice a child with imagined surprises. The quaint restaurants were all closed for the night, their windows dark, nor were there any moving cars on the streets, though it wasn't yet midnight. Just parked cars, maybe left overnight by tourists already asleep in their motel rooms. On this stormy night, even so near Christmas, the whole town had buttoned up early, and he thought of bed with longing. He really was done in after the long flight and then the drive down from San Jose, bone tired and achingly hungry. But most of all, he wanted to get some food into the child before he checked in to a motel and put her to bed. He had not expected all of the village to be closed, not a restaurant lighted, not even a bar, and he passed only a couple of those. Cruising the narrow, tree-sheltered streets not finding what he sought, he parked beside a small shopping plaza and got out. Stood listening, hoping to hear the echo of voices from some unseen café within. He was eager suddenly to hear another human voice, but he could hear nothing but the surf, and the dying wind—as if he'd stepped into some kind of time warp, as if everyone on earth had vanished except himself and the child, as if all the world was suddenly empty.

No voices. No canned Christmas music. No sound of another car on the streets until one lone vehicle turned on to Ocean and approached, moving slowly toward him and then speeding up and going on, the dark-clad driver invisible within the dark interior. A bicycle swished past, too, and turned left, and that made him feel less isolated.

Cat Deck the Halls
A Joe Grey Mystery
. Copyright © by Shirley Murphy. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Cat Deck the Halls (Joe Grey Series #13) 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
BettyG76 More than 1 year ago
I love the break between the mysteries I read most of the time. These are just the right light touch and escape from reality.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thought this was one of her better books. Very good story. Keeps your interest till the end. One you can not put down. A good holiday book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As usual this story started pretty slow, but once I got into it, I could'nt wait to read it. I loved the tenderness the police showed for the little girl and I fell for the twist. I thought about it and then let it go. That's what a good author does; make us follow the plot the way she wants us to follow it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My first encounter with this series. Couldn't stop reading it. Will definitely read the entire series after this. A must read for serious cozy lovers.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A trio of cats set on protecting a six year old crime victim from a killer. The same man she watched gun down the man holding her. Was it her father? The body is taken from the shopping center and the girl hid. One of the cats calls 911 (yes, that¿s right.) The cats and later the police is found and taken into protective custody with the extra help from the feline trio. They try to identify the girl and find the missing body. Mysterious neighbors intruders pictures of children broken locks and talking cats all add up to a thrilling, fun to read, fast moving, complex tale. This was my first Joe Grey Mystery, but it won¿t be my last. Shirley Rousseau Murphy raises a question in my mind. Do I wish my five cats could talk? I¿m thinking, No, but I¿m glad hers do. Review by Wanda C. Keesey (author Lost In The Mist release May 2008)
harstan More than 1 year ago
In the garden of a plaza in Molena Point, California, the assailant kills the man by the Christmas tree while a little girl clings to the victim. After the culprit fled the crime scene, Kit prowling the rooftop of one of the buildings in the plaza smells the blood and cordite. She traces the odor to the dead human and sees the frightened five or six year old (hard to judge specific age in humans as they all look the same) clinging to the dead man. ------------ By the time the cops arrive, the killer hid the corpse and Kit and her feline pals concealed the child to insure that the culprit did not come after the only witness. While his cat pals hide the little girl, ace detective Joe Grey investigates. Meanwhile the killer and perhaps some allies seek the child so they break into Kit's home and the studio of a famous artist at the Home for Orphan Children. However, these dangerous humans have never dealt with felines as clever as Joe Grey, Kit and the rest of their meowing carol singers.---------- Shirley Rousseau Murphy proves that cats have at least fourteen lives as Joe Grey works his later caper while his partners keep the human girl safe. The whodunit is cleverly designed to keep the audience, the cops and the cats off balance until the final paw step. Fans of the series will appreciate this fun personification holiday mystery as the felines of Molena Point deck the halls with an entertaining mystery--------- Harriet Klausner
thornton37814 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The story opens with a young girl witnessing a murder. I fear that I've made the mistake of starting a series with the 13th book. Even though I love cats and believe they can communicate somewhat (certainly not as the cats in this novel did though), I somehow found it difficult to adjust to the role the cats played in this novel. The story seems to be well-written and well-plotted, but I just had difficulty suspending my belief enough to really enjoy it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As a teacher, this book was loved by my children. I have this in both picture form and nook and my kids loved it. The characters performed amazingly, especially the cats.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My daughter loved it
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is my first Joe Grey book, and it was most enjoyable. I will be reading more!
spook-rosey More than 1 year ago
Very good book about cats!! Will read more of Shirley's books!!! READ READ READ.. Happy New Year!!
McDr More than 1 year ago
I have all of Shirley Rousseau Murphy's books and they're fantastic.
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Woodsdragon More than 1 year ago
Good book. The Series is wonderful and it is a great addition to it.
SueMI More than 1 year ago
Another good book from this author. Light reading, entertaining, and the wonderful talking cats are charming, smart, and believable. Having 2 cats of my own, I often wonder what mine would tell me if I listened closely.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A good story! My only complaint is the old one (same as for Rita Mae Brown's mysteries: too much brand-name-dropping. I hope the authors are paid for it, at least.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The problem with all these books is simple. Every single "good" character is a Mary Sue or Gary Stu, and every villain is Darth Vader. It makes for tedious and exhausting reading, despite the author's genuine writing skills. Unfortunately, she cannot create a degree of any subtlety in a character to save her life. And waaaay too much simpering about children in all her books.