Frankie Jackson (Mary Frances to her mother) is spending the summer in California, after a rough year in her hometown of Toms River, NJ. Her Aunt Roxy lives on a houseboat in a shabby Sausalito dock community, and Frankie is staying with her, crossing the continent to escape her hometown problems.
But trouble packed its travel bag and is waiting for her on Dickery Dock. Pickles, a bird-killing predator loved only his owner, is found dead on a float in the harbor not long after Frankie arrives, and his caustic owner, Kay, immediately blames her. Despite every dock resident’s defense of Frankie, Kay not only files a report with Animal Control, but demands a hearing.
This is more than just a slight problem for Frankie, because she’s on probation in New Jersey. The “Toms River Terror” was charged with assault and false imprisonment against a fellow baseball player whom she infuriated after rejecting his advances. Any further trouble will send her to juvie camp.
She turns for help to washed-up actress Margie Britt, who starred in a PI drama, Climaxx, decades ago. Margie still remembers the legal jargon learned on set and takes on Frankie’s defense, with the help of the Dickery Dock eccentrics and a few showbiz connections, revealing a surprising culprit for Pickles’ murder.
As an audiobook, I Didn’t Kill Your Cat is superbly narrated by Janet Metzger, who effortlessly switches genders, generations, and characters. Her commentary is clear and easy to understand, and she delivers a rich audio experience that holds listeners’ attention.
Cat is the first in a three-book mystery series for young adults that follows Frankie’s summer adventures in California. Although it’s designated YA, it’s so well-written that it easily fits into the adult mystery genre and should intrigue all enigma-loving readers.