Claws for Alarm
by T. C. Lotempio
GENRE: Cozy mystery
“The purrfect sleuthy duo”* is back, and this time murder hits close to home for Nora Charles and her partner Nick, a stealthy little feline gumshoe groomed to solve a shocking crime.
Nick trotted along beside me as we made our way deeper into the warehouse. Suddenly, he froze, tail upright, the hairs puffed and fluffed out like a giant fan.
“What’s wrong?” I whispered, even though I knew he couldn’t answer. We stood in silence for a moment, and suddenly, I did hear something. A very faint sound, from far away . . . like a door closing.
“Come on,” I hissed. I lifted my head, sniffed at the air. It smelled pretty stale, but there was another scent, cigarette smoke. I racked my brain, trying to remember if I’d seen either Julia or Samms smoking.
Nick’s tail swished, and he pawed at arrows painted on the ground. He trotted ahead of me at a brisk pace, and I fell into step. We followed the painted arrows along a white-tiled hallway down to a door with a shade pulled all the way down. A sign placed haphazardly in the window proclaimed it CLOSED.
I tried the door, which seemed to be stuck. I looked at the doorframe, which appeared to be less than sturdy, and checked it for alarm wires. Seeing none, I raised my leg and gave the door a swift, hard kick. It clicked open an inch, and I pushed it all the way open. We walked into a tiny office not much bigger than a postage stamp. A large metal desk and battered file cabinet took up the majority of the space. Another door at the far end stood partway open. Nick suddenly tensed, and I saw the hairs on his back rise. His tail fluffed out, and he started to growl, deep in his throat.
I frowned. “What’s wrong? What do you sense?”
Nick reared up on his hind legs and then shot through the partially open door. I had no choice but to follow. The room I now found myself in appeared to be a slightly larger version of the previous office. Nick crouched in front of a large metal desk, and as I entered, he shifted his body slightly. I caught a glimpse of two feet, very still, shod in the pair of eggplant Louboutins I’d admired earlier in the evening.
“Oh crud,” I cried. “Please tell me that’s not what I think it is.” I walked around Nick and peeped around the edge of the desk. I saw a twisted figure in a white raincoat bunched up around shapely legs, a tumble of dark hair covering its face, the neck bent at an unnatural angle.
“Shoot,” I said.
“MA-ROW!” Nick yowled.
I heard a sound behind me as Nick dived under a nearby chair. My heart started to beat wildly in my chest. The last time he’d pulled something like that I’d been caught next to a dead body and hauled off to the police station. His fat rear had barely wiggled out of sight before the door slammed back and I found myself looking first down the barrel of a .45 and then, as I raised my gaze, at the grim, unsmiling face of Detective Leroy Samms. He looked at me, then at the feet, then back to me again. He lowered his arm, slipped his gun back into his shoulder holster. “Well, well. Look what the cat dragged in.”
I responded almost automatically. “He didn’t drag me. I walked in on my own.”
One eyebrow quirked. “Pardon? It’s an expression, Nora.”
“Oh, sure. I knew that.” The queasy sensation in my stomach was getting stronger, and I really felt like gagging. I started to push past Samms, but his strong fingers reached out and encircled my elbow in a grip of steel.
“No need to run off.”
I pressed my palm against my cheek. “I—I’m not. I just felt a little . . . squeamish.”
“Of course you do,” he said, still not cracking a smile. “I’ve got some Pepto back at the station. Fix you right up. Then we’re going to have a chat, you and I.” His grip on my elbow tightened. “Ms. Charles, you’ve got some explaining to do.”
Interview with the Author:
- How long have you been writing?
Since I was ten years old, but only seriously with an eye toward publication since 2007
2. How long have you been a published author?
I’ve self published some titles and I’ve had some suspense novels picked up by a small press, but I’ve only been traditionally published by Penguin since December of 2014
- What titles do you have available?
Right now the first two in the Nick and Nora series: Meow if its Murder and Claws for Alarm. Book 3, Crime and Catnip, will be out December 6. I also have some self published paranormals available, Raven’s Kiss, Raven’s Quest and No Rest for the Wicca.
4. What made you choose the subject of this book?
I was writing about vampires and not having much success when my former supervisor advised me I should write about my cat. I went home and the Thin Man was on Turner Classic, and then my tuxedo cat ROCCO jumped up on my lap. The rest, as they say, is history. Out of that was born the Nick and Nora series. Nora Charles is an ex-investigative reporter who returns to her hometown of Cruz, California to run her late mother’s sandwich shop, and Nick Charles is her tubby tuxedo cat who has a talent for investigation and spelling out clues with Scrabble tiles.
5. Do you have any new titles coming soon?
Yes, book 3 in the Nick and Nora series will be out December 6. I also have a new cozy series coming from Crooked Lane Publishing next Spring, about two sisters who run an animal shelter. The first volume of that series is entitled PURR M FOR MURDER.
6. What is your favourite genre and why?
Mysteries, because I love to figure out puzzles! Although you’d think I’d be better at it by now LOL
7. What, to you, is the most exciting part of the writing process?
I think the most exciting part for me is typing “The End” on a book!
8. If you could co-author a book with anyone, who would you choose and why?
Hm…probably Laura Childs, because I’m a big fan and I greatly admire her style of writing. I also admire her stamina. The woman writes three cozy series and she’s launching a thriller series this July under her own name!!!!!!!
9. Where can readers find you on the web?
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Born in New York City, T. C. LoTempio is the national bestselling author of Meow If It’s Murder, the first in the Nick and Nora Mystery series. She has been a staff reporter at the young adult magazine Susabella Passengers and Friends for more than a decade. When she isn’t reporting or writing novels, she and her cat Rocco fundraise for Nathan Fillion’s charity, Kids Need to Read.
C. Lotempio will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
Follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here: