The elevator won’t go to the tenth floor, someone is breaking into condos, and the well-heeled Ukrainian renter isn’t paying the rent. Beth and Arnie have retired to the building where Beth’s last rental unit is located, and Beth, the klutzy landlady, has declared herself through solving mysteries. Then, her renter is arrested for the murder of the neighbor who fell (was pushed?) from the tenth-story balcony and the dead neighbor’s grandchildren are left with only their wheelchair-ridden grandmother to care for them. Beth feels compelled to help out.
Are Sylvester’s psycho-cat behaviors providing clues? Is the renter actually the killer? Do the break-ins and elevator problem have anything to do with the murder? Even Arnie, who has always told Beth to keep her nose out of police business, gets involved—for the sake of the children.
Alana Interviews Psycho Cat
In Nine LiFelines, the third book of the Psycho Cat and the Landlady Mystery series, eleven-year-old Alana meets the Peruvian twins who live across the hallway in the condo building where her grandparents live. The immigrant children, who are her same age, tell Alana more than they would tell Beth, Alana’s grandmother. Beth, the landlady, is trying to solve the mystery of who pushed the twins’ grandfather from the tenth-story balcony of his penthouse and save lives from being ruined. Her Ukrainian renter has been arrested for the murder, and his French wife and daughter need help, too. Psycho Cat points out clues with scratches and hisses.
Here, Alana, an inveterate reader of mysteries, interviews Sylvester, aka Psycho Cat. Of course, Sylvester can’t speak English. We can tell how he would respond to questions, though, by his reactions. The green-eyed cat broadcasts his opinions.
Alana: Sylvester, everyone in my family calls you Psycho Cat, except for my mother who thinks it’s rude. Why do they call you that?
Psycho Cat sits in royal cat fashion, wraps his tail around his feet, and blinks. That has to mean the following:
I’m not “psycho,” but, as a youngster, I was very rambunctious, I must admit. Your grandparents, Beth and Arnie Stockwell, aren’t my first humans. My first, Adrianna Knells, asked Beth to adopt me after Beth helped prove Adrianna innocent of murder. Back then, I tended to get in trouble because of my natural curious and physically-active nature in the small apartment where Adrianna lived.
Understandable, don’t you think? At any rate, Adrianna gave me the nickname of Psycho Cat after I landed in the bathtub with her during one of my explorations.
Alana: Of course. You’re a big kitty. You deserve to get exercise. But tell me, truthfully, can you really sniff out clues to mysteries?
Psycho Cat opens his eyes wide, flicks the end of his tail back and forth, and pulls his ears forward. The meaning is clear.
What can I say? I notice things. I’m curious. Unusual marks on doors and particular people attract my attention, and I investigate. Then, too, I feel the need to protect those people who seem vulnerable—babies, the elderly, the physically deficient, my humans when being attacked. People with something to hide and hidden clues radiate pheromones that repel me. My hisses and growls are meant to warn my special humans.
Alana: I understand. My dog is like that. Now, tell me what you think about living in a tenth-story condo since my grandparents moved from their big house that had a back yard you could visit.
Psycho Cat squats on the floor, his legs forward and head held to one side, as if he’s thinking.
Cats like being high off the ground. That’s why we climb on top of refrigerators and into trees. Living on the tenth story of this building is great. Besides, now I get to take walks on the Trolley Track Trail with Beth.
He flicks his whiskers and winks an eye.
And I love being pushed in my own cat stroller. Beth spoils me a little.
Alana: Sylvester, I have to ask, which grandchild do you like the best, my cousins, Wyatt or Missy, visiting from Oregon, or me, who lives close and visits often?
Psycho Cat lays his head on his paws, closes his eyes, and lowers his ears.
No reaction from Psycho Cat.
Alana: I guess you don’t want to answer that. But thank you for the interview.
About the Author
Joyce Ann Brown, the author of the Psycho Cat and the Landlady Mystery series, set in Kansas City, was a librarian, a landlady, and a Realtor before becoming a short story and novel writer. She also has two mischievous cats.
Her actual tenants have never disappeared, murdered, or been murdered. Nor have any of them found a skeleton in the attic. Joyce has never solved a crime. Moose and Chloe, her cats, haven’t sniffed out a mystery, at least not yet.
Joyce spends her days writing (with a few breaks for tennis, walking, and book clubs) so that Beth, the landlady in the series, and Sylvester, the Psycho Cat, can make up for her real-life lack of excitement in a big way.
Author website with Blog: http://www.joyceannbrown.com
Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/joyceannbrownauthor
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