By Familiar Means by Delia James

By Familiar Means (Witch's Cat Mystery #2) by Delia James

Publisher: Berkley

Publication date: September 20, 2016

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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Publisher's description

In the latest from the author of A Familiar Tail, a witch and her familiar find trouble brewing at a coffee house.

After discovering her mystical heritage—and being adopted by furry feline familiar Alistair—artist Annabelle Britton has decided to make picturesque Portsmouth, New Hampshire, her new home. Now, she can take the time to figure out her new abilities and welcome her grandmother, who is visiting Portsmouth, and her old coven, for the first time in thirty years.

But being a witch doesn’t magically put money in the bank. When she’s hired to paint the murals for a new coffee house, it seems like a wish come true. But then a series of spooky sounds and strange happenings convince the owners that their new shop is haunted. They want Anna and her coven to evict the restless spirit before the grand opening.

Annabelle is certain the haunted happenings at the shop are just hocus pocus. But when her search reveals hidden smugglers’ tunnels beneath the shop—and a dead body—Annabelle, Alastair, and the coven suddenly find themselves in a cat and mouse game with a killer...

My review (first shared on October 2, 2021)

Anna is in the thick of it again when her "Vibe" helps her uncover a body under suspicious circumstances. Alistair is still my favorite character, but Grandma BB is coming in at a close second. I love that she is on the scene now. Her return to Portsmouth brings old hard feelings back to the surface and creates an interesting side plot to the main story.

I love that Portsmouth is a real city so I can look up photos to help me build a mental picture of the town. It is adorably quaint and Ms. James's descriptions of it make you want to visit it. Too bad there isn't really an out-of-the-way "secret" coffee shop filled with hippies (or is there?!).

There were times when there seemed to be too many threads to the murder plot and it got challenging to juggle them midway through the book. Ultimately, the ending wasn't super surprising though it still had a couple of entertaining twists. There is one more book in the series, which I plan to read (since it seems to focus MORE on cats - I do love cat cozies), but it is the last in the series. The third book was written in 2017 so I am guessing there won't be more to the series after that, unfortunately.

As usual, a magic + cat cozy is high on my enjoyable meter. I'm predictable in that regard... unrepentantly.