A Cat in the Stacks Mystery Series

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A Cat in the Stacks Mystery
AuthorMiranda Dean
CountryUnited States
SeriesA Cat in the Stacks Mystery
GenreMystery novel
PublisherBerkley Books

A Cat in the Stacks Mystery series is a book by author Dean James, writing under the pen name Miranda James.[1] The first novel in the series, Murder Past Due, was published in 2010 by Berkley Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House. The cozy mystery series[2] has been included on the New York Times bestseller list.[3] There are currently thirteen books in the series, with the most recent, Cat Me if You Can, being released August 25, 2020.[4]


The series follows Charlie Harris, a librarian, and his cat, Diesel, as they help solve murders in the small town of Athena, Mississippi. Charlie, a widower, spends his days between working part time as an archivist at the Athena College library, volunteering at the local public library, and renting out rooms to college students. Charlie is often accompanied by Diesel, who willingly wears a harness and dislikes being left home alone. Diesel is a normal domesticated cat without supernatural abilities; however, he does appears to understand what Charlie says and often responds to people's emotions, particularly sadness, by trying to comfort them.[5]

The first mystery, Murder Past Due, involves one of Charlie's borders, first-year student Justin Wardslaw, who unwittingly becomes mixed up with the murder of local author, Godfrey Priest.[6]


  • Charles "Charlie" Harris is a librarian originally from Athena, Mississippi. After retiring from his job in library administration in Houston, Texas, he returned home to live in his deceased aunt Dottie's house. He currently works part time in the Athena College rare books and archives department.
  • Diesel is a Maine coon cat which Charlie found outside by a dumpster and adopted. He does not like when people yell or express angry emotions, but actively tries to comfort people who are sad. Charlie feeds him crunchies, but he prefers table scraps.
  • Sean Harris is Charlie's son. He begins the series a lawyer in Houston, but soon moves to Athena to practice law and live near Charlie.
  • Laura Harris is Charlie's daughter. She is an aspiring actress who lives in Los Angeles.
  • Azalea Berry is Charlie's housekeeper. She previously worked for Charlie's aunt Dottie and continued to take care of the house after Charlie took possession of it. A Black woman in her upper fifties, despite her no-nonsense attitude, she clearly cares about Charlie and his borders. Before coming to work for Dottie, Azalea worked for many of the notorious families in Athena.
  • Kanesha Berry works for the Athena Sheriff Department. She often oversees the murder investigations. Her mother is Azalea, Charlie's housekeeper.
  • Justin Wardslaw is a student at Athena College and one of Charlie's borders. His mother, Julia, went to school with Charlie and arranged for Justin to board with Charlie.


As of 2020, there are thirteen titles in the series with a fourteenth title set to be released April 6, 2021.[7] Many of the works' titles reference popular culture. For example, the third book in the series, File M for Murder, references Alfred Hitchcock's popular film, Dial M for Murder.

  1. Murder Past Due (2010)
  2. Classified as Murder (2011)
  3. File M for Murder (2012)
  4. Out of Circulation (2012)
  5. Arsenic and Old Books (2015)
  6. No Cats Allowed (2016)
  7. Twelve Angry Librarians (2017)
  8. Claws for Concern (2018)
  9. Six Cats a Slayin' (2018)
  10. The Pawful Truth (2019)
  11. Careless Whiskers (2020)


  1. "Dean James". Mississippi Writers and Musicians. 2020. Retrieved July 23, 2020.
  2. Stasio, Marilyn (March 3, 2017). "The Best and Latest in Crime Fiction". New York Times. Retrieved July 28, 2020.
  3. Flores Alvarez, Olivia (February 14, 2014). "Houston Author Dean James Tops the Bestseller Lists With The Silence of the Library". Houston Press. Retrieved July 23, 2020.
  4. "Cat in the Stacks Mystery Series". Penguin Random House. Retrieved July 28, 2020.
  5. "Classified as Murder: A Cat in the Stacks Mystery". Library Journal. Retrieved July 28, 2020.
  6. "Dean James." Gale Literature: Contemporary Authors, Gale, 2016. Gale Literature Resource Center.
  7. "Cat in the Stacks Mystery Series". Penguin Random House. Retrieved July 28, 2020.

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