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Friday, April 22, 2011


Our Book Club Friday guest mystery author today is Jane K. Cleland. Jane writes the IMBA bestselling and Agatha- and Anthony-nominated Josie Prescott Antiques Mystery series. Set on the rugged coast of New Hampshire, the books are often reviewed as an Antiques Roadshow for mystery fans. The books feature antiques appraiser Josie Prescott who uses her knowledge of antiques to solve crimes. Consigned to Death was named by Library Journal as one of only 22 “core titles” recommended for librarians seeking to build a cozy mystery collection, alongside novels by Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayres.
To celebrate the release of her latest novel, Deadly Threads, Jane is giving away a vintage Pucci purse on her website. To enter, go to www.janecleland.net. 
And just for our readers, Jane is giving away a hard cover edition of Consigned to Death. To enter, simple post a comment to the blog today or Saturday. -- AP

Meet Hank, Josie’s New Cat

I love cats. I love tabbies and calicos and tigers, and what about the ones wearing those little tuxedo outfits… how cute are they? Cats knock my socks off, but that’s not why I introduced a cat into Josie’s world. (I write the Josie Prescott Antiques Mysteries; Josie is an antiques appraiser who uses her knowledge of antiques to solve crimes.) I introduced a cat because of a kitty I met several years ago named Hank.

I met Hank while visiting my husband Joe as he toured with Les Misérables. (He’s a musician.) The chief electrician was a big, tough-looking teamster named Steve. Steve had traveled with the show for years and his constant companion was an orange tabby named Hank.

Hank was more than mellow. Hank was warm and prideful and cute as a bug. Hank hung out backstage and was known for sweet-talking the ladies—and some guys, too—out of kitty treats. After every run, Steve oversaw the set breakdown from an electricity point of view, then he and Hank would climb on the crew bus and sleep their way to the next city. And then one day, someone complained that he was allergic to cats, and just like that, Hank got the boot. Hank was no longer allowed on the crew bus.

Steve posted a notice on the personnel bulletin board asking for a ride for Hank. Joe, my husband, was driving that leg of the tour, and being a cat person, was quick to volunteer. I witnessed Steve place Hank in his carry case on the back seat, unzip it, and lean in close to give Hank a kiss. And I heard this big, tough-looking teamster say, “I’ll see you in Fresno, Hank. Be a good boy… this is your only chance.”

I’m pleased to report that Hank was a better-than-good boy, and as far as I know, Steve and Hank are still touring… Steve traveling on the crew bus and Hank traveling with whichever actor, musician, or crew member happens to have a car—and no cat allergy.

I fell in love with Hank. He was sweet and adaptable and cuddly. What I really loved though, was Steve and Hank’s relationship. I don’t know—I can’t know—what Hank meant to Steve. But I write fiction, so I don’t have to know the reality. I just have to know the emotional truth I assign to the incident. In my mind, Hank kept Steve’s lonely demons at bay, the ones that taunt solitary travelers. Hank was a hero. That’s the emotional truth I wanted to tell, so when it came time for Josie to get a cat… I named him Hank.

I hope you’ll read Deadly Threads, a tale of vintage clothing, a cat who fetches, and betrayal, and I hope you fall in love with Hank, too.

Thanks for stopping by today, Jane! Readers, if you'd like a chance to win a copy of Consigned to Death, don't forget to post a comment. And also don't forget to check back on Sunday to see if you're the lucky winner. -- AP


Kathleen Kaska said...


I love the Hank and Steve story. If you let them cats will bring out the best in all of us. I'm looking forward to reading Consigned to Death. The Antiques Roadshow sitting is PRICELESS.
Safe journey,

Kathleen Kaska

Jane K. Cleland said...

Thanks, Kathleen. I appreciate your giving the series a whirl! The new one, DEADLY THREADS, which by the way, can be read as a stand alone, features vintage clothing as the pivotal antique. Don't forget to pop over to my website [www.janecleland.net] and enter the free drawing for the vintage Pucci purse.

BPL Ref said...

What a wonderful story! It really tugs at my heart. I love cats of all shapes and sizes too, but I have to say that orange tabbies really clutch at my heart.

I've yet to try the Antiques series but I'll put this on my "must read" list. (I used to read the Lovejoy ones but I confess it was watching Ian McShane that I liked best about Lovejoy!)

We have actually had Ken Farmer, one of the "Antiques Roadshow" appraisers to appear at the library a couple of times. Very interesting program!

Jane K. Cleland said...

Orange tabbies are beautiful... but so are all of them! Cats are, in my view, truly remarkable little creatures... they're opinionated, articulate, love bunnies.

Anne K. Albert said...

You had me at Hank! ;-) Why? Because I had a Hank, although I called him Juice. Like Steve, I loved that cat to bits, and miss him very much.

Thank you for sharing your story of Steve and Hank. I'm adding the Antique series to my TBR list!

jeff7salter said...

Wonderful story about Hank the cat.
We have a Maine Coone (about 98% ... though he was a 'pound' kitty) named Sipper.
I call him King Sipper, because he pretty much rules the household and definitely keeps the two dogs in check.
Just last evening, the smallest dog lay down near the pet hatch --- he wanted to go outside, but Sipper had the pet door 'blocked' from the other side and wouldn't let the dog out!
Sipper does that ... just because he can.
Please enter me in the drawing.

jeff7salter said...

Uh ... that's Maine Coon. No 'e' on the end. Sorry.

Joan Kane Nichols said...

Great cat story. I've had many cats over the years, but Harry had a special place in my heart. When I moved to New Orleans for a few years back in the early 80s, I carried him on a two-plane flight from New York in his carrier and he behaved beautifully.

Living with him was like having a cheerful, friendly but self-contained teenage nephew in the house. He made friends with another cat in the courtyard and brought him over to our place to hang out. And he loved dribbling bottle caps down the hall.

Thanks for bringing up the memory. And I'll be sure to check out Deadly Threads.

Member MWA-NY
bornbefore theboom@blogspot.com

Chris Eboch said...

Coincidentally, I have a big orange cat in my new romantic suspense, Rattled. The cat, named Tiger in the book, is based on two real cats I've known, one orange, one named Tigerli, both very vocal -- they liked to "talk" to people -- and both independent but cuddly. Creating a fictional cat is a wonderful way to keep a beloved pet alive.

Kris Bock
Rattled: romantic suspense in the dramatic and deadly southwestern desert

Fran Stewart said...

Hank will go well in your books, I'm sure. Thank you for telling the Steve & Hank story. It was truly heart-warming -- although I think I would have delegated the "allegic one" to ride separately rather than sending Hank off in a defferent car.

Jane K. Cleland said...

Thank you all for such lovely comments.

Jeff, you asked to be signed up for the free vintage Pucci purse drawing... it's easy to do... just visit my website!www.janecleland.net I hope you'll all do it!

I'm enjoying reading about your cats (fictional and otherwise!). My first cat was named Blackie. (Guess what color she was!) She slept on my pillow and I just fell in love with her.

hicotton said...

This story touched my inner cat. Can't wait to read the book and meet Hank "in person."

Britt Vasarhelyi
britt.vasarhelyi (at) gmail.com

Loni Emmert said...

Love antiques and cats, which seem to go very well together. Once traveling around Maine visiting antique shops I found a lifesize cat statue that I fell in love with. It was very heavy, made of cement, so I didn't want to cart it back to Cali with me. Now it would be even more expensive. I these many years later I still have it on my mind and still regret not paying the $5. for it and carrying it back to place in my home. Hope I win the book!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing Hank's story!!! I will look forward to reading your mysteries that include him. --BrendaW.

Jane K. Cleland said...

Thank you all! Here's a little tease from DEADLY THREADS:

"The cat stepped out and sniffed around. He seemed mildly curious, and totally at ease. As he ambled around checking us out, greeting us one-by-one, rubbing our legs, stretching leisurely by lowering first his front half, then his rear half, I found myself wishing that I handled change half as well as he did."

Stacia Friedman said...

I never met Hank but I know his distant cousin Lola, an oh-so-soigne Siamese who adopted me several years ago after discovering that I share my tuna. I wasn't looking for a cat. I didn't know I needed a cat. But like Steve, my freelance writing career was a constantly shifting and lonely horizon. Now I look back and wonder how I ever wrote a good sentence without seven pounds of fur in my lap.

Jane K. Cleland said...

Oh, Stacia, how lovely. And what a great name for a cat, Lola. I bet she's a babe.

Cindy Sample said...

Great post and wonderful kitty comments as well. I've had many wonderful cats wander into my life but my latest is a big orange female named Zoey from the Bronx who loves to cuddle on my lap. At 15 lbs., that means my leg usually falls asleep before she does, but she's a great companion. Except for being afraid of bugs. The original scaredy cat.

PS - I've always enjoyed your series. Looking forward to reading the latest.


Jane, thanks so much for being our guest today and for such a lovely post.

Readers, if you haven't already posted a comment to enter the drawing for a copy of CONSIGNED TO DEATH, there's still time. And don't forget to check back on Sunday to see if you're the winner.

Sandy Cody said...

DEADLY THREADS sounds like another good read in an interesting series.

Kellie M. Rix said...

I love a happy cat story. Thank you for sharing Hank with us! I am looking forward to reading Consigned to Death.

Margaret said...

Really enjoyed "Deadly Threads." "Whodunit" was a surprise. Not really an animal person, but liked "Hank" and his relationship with everyone at Prescott's. Much success with the book.

Kari Lee Townsend said...

Can't wait to read Deadly Threads! It sounds awesome. And the cat is adorable :-)

Jane K. Cleland said...

Thank you all for your comments, and thank you, Anastasia, for your warm welcome.

Pat Marinelli said...

I love the picture of cat spread out in the sink. I once had a kitten who slept in a chip and dip dish...until she out grew it, then she moved to my bed.

we've never looked for a cat, they always came to us. After losing 3, we now have numbers 4 and 5 who just showed up at the door. Jakette was about a year old and Smokis was a tiny kitten.

Can't wait to read your books. I'm going right now to add them to my 'wish' list.

Pat Marinelli said...

Jane, just read Killing Time short story on your website and hit 'send' on Amazon for all the books in the Josie series. Love Josie and can't wait to meet Hank.

Jane K. Cleland said...

Thanks, Pat! That's wonderful of you. "Killing Time" was first published in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. It was nominated for several awards. For anyone wanting a taste of Josie, it's available free on my website. www.janecleland.net

As to a kitty sleeping in a chip and dip bowl... wow... that was either a tiny cat or a very large dish!

Isn't it lovely that cats adopt you, Pat. They come to your door wearing their fuzzy little jammies.

Sharon K. Garner said...

I plan to read your books!

I have a cat character in three of my five novels. The latest is Aumoe, Midnight in Hawaiian. My own black cat will be 17 if she lives until August, which I doubt. She's seeing me out of pet ownership. I'll miss her, and cats, like crazy. I've had three, and I just can't take their leaving me anymore. I grieve for years.

Sharon K. Garner

traveler said...

Hank is unique and special. Deadly Threads sounds wonderful. Best wishes and much happiness.