My guest today is Hamlet, the feline sleuth extraordinaire of author Ali Brandon, who also known as Diane A.S. Stuckart.
Meow and good day to you, Hamlet. Please tell us what book(s) you have appeared in.
I am the star of the Black Cat Bookshop Mysteries from Berkley Prime Crime. The 6th in this cozy mystery series is TWICE TOLD TAIL, which is on the shelves today, November 1. This is a very exciting series set in an independent bookstore, Pettistone’s Fine Books, in Brooklyn. I oversee things there, although my caretaker, Darla Pettistone, actually owns the bookstore. I was content being the store mascot and keeping an eye on customers until Darla showed up. For some reason, ever since she arrived from Texas, people have been strangely murdered in our neighborhood. If I did not solve all these murders and know who was responsible, I would have my suspicions about her!
Concats on your new release, Hamlet. I love mysteries set in bookstores and libraries. My own series, the Cobble Cove mysteries, is set in a library where I am the library cat.
Are you based on a real cat such as your author’s? If so, please give further details.
Ali Brandon tells me that I am an homage to her original editor’s feline, also called Hamlet. I am not quite sure what that means.
I think it means that you are based on a cat who is now on Rainbow Bridge. I am based on Debbie’s siamese, Oliver, who has also appeared on this blog and who even interviewed me-ow about our new book.
Can you share an excerpt from one of your books that features you in an important scene? If so, please include it.
Leaving Hamlet and James to shut down the computer, Darla did her usual pre-closing walk through the store to check for wayward books and stray customers. She found none of the latter, but picked up a couple of the former—a French cuisine cookbook and a sports bio—that had been left behind on one of the chairs scattered about the shop for browsers. Which, while something of an annoyance, was preferable for inventory purposes to being shelved back in the wrong spot.
She halted, however, at the sight of an oversized paperback book lying smack in the middle of the self-help aisle.
She retrieved it and looked at its cover. “The Fool’s Guide to Wills and Estates,” she read aloud. And then, feeling suddenly unsettled, she glanced around for Hamlet.
For the cagey feline had developed a habit of communicating with her by means of book titles from volumes he’d would surreptitiously pull from the shelves when she wasn’t looking. Of course, said communication only happened after some sort of disaster or another . . . such as an unexplained death. Darla frowned. Fortunately, nothing like that had happened in months. So why the book snagging?
Hamlet chose that moment to stroll up the aisle to join her, tail waving gently as if to show he just happened to be walking past. Nothing to see here, nothing to do with the book, he seemed to be saying. She was just about to agree and chalk the incident up to coincidence, when it hit her.
“Aha! Sorry, Hammy,” she told him with a smile as she waggled the book at him. “Your whiskers are crossed on this one. Connie thought she saw a dead body at the bridal shop this afternoon, but it turned out it was just a woman who’d fainted. So, no one’s going to be reading wills and settling estates around here. So, no sleuthing necessary on your part.”
By way of answer, Hamlet flopped on the floor, green eyes narrowing into slits. Then, he flung one hind leg over his shoulder and began licking the base of his tail—his classic “kiss off” gesture when offended.
Darla’s smile broadened.
“Back atcha, Hammy,” she said without rancor as she reshelved the book and started back toward the register.
But when the cat remained stubbornly in place, so that she had to step around him, she coaxed said, “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have made fun of you. Every great detective blows it one time or another, and today was just your turn. Now, come along. It’s time to close shop and head upstairs for some supper.”
Very mice. Did I say I love cats who deal with books in their mysteries? Cats and books tend to go together, methinks.
What do you like most about your role in your authors’ books?
I always enjoy outsmarting humans…and, of course, I am the star of these stories. What is not to like?
You lucky, kitty. I have had some mice scenes in Debbie’s books, but I share the pet co-star thing with Fido, a golden retriever.
Are you a talking cat in your books or just a silent one like I am who just meows occasionally?
I understand human but I speak only feline—and a bit of canine, when necessary.
What advice would you give other cat characters?
Remember that you are cleverer than most humans (and canines!), but it sometimes is useful to make humans think they are almost as smart as you!
Out of the mouth of kittens.
Are you and/or your author on social media? If so, please list your links.
Purr-fect. I enjoyed having you here, Hamlet. Best whiskers on your new release, The 6th Black Cat Bookshop Mystery, TWICE TOLD TAIL, and you and your author’s upcoming Black Cat Bookshop mysteries.