Margot is home from America because Chloe has killed her twin sister Claudia. Or so it seems. The only witness to the crime is the emotionally scarred, and difficult, Lynette, who is Claudia's child, and who found Chloe with the bloody knife in her hand.
While the publisher has promoted this book as a mystery, it is not. What it is, is a long, and pretty bland, English gothic detailing the stress, and the deterioration of a family. And this is the meat of the plot of this novel.
One of the first things that will grab the reader's attention is that there is the feel that the reader has fallen into the middle of a book that has already begun long before the first page is read. I, at first, thought that this was part of a series, but no, it seems to be a stand-alone. Margot is already home, the murder has happened months ago, and the reader is plunked down in the middle of a large and confusing cast of characters. Unfortunately, not many of them ever became interesting enough for me, the reader, to keep straight in my mind, and those that do standout, standout only because of their irritation factor. F'r ghod's sake, after a while I just wanted to stick my boot down Wilfred's throat, as this fat boy just kept eating, and eating, and stuffing food into his mouth like an alcoholic who can't stop drinking. But he's not alone, everybody in this family seems dysfunctional in some obnoxious, or irritating, manner; I just wanted to beat Lynette senseless with her damn bell. And since the reader is set down, cold, into all of this, there is no sympathy for any of them, and their behavior just becomes tiresome, so that while this book is rather short, it just seemed to take forever to get through.
Marian Babson is supposed to be some form of humorist, but while all of this dysfunctional psychosis may be droll, it wasn't, in the end, amusing, insightful, or entertaining.
Again, this is marketed as a mystery, but there is no mystery, no detecting, no on stage crime until page one hundred and thirty-seven, and even that happens off-stage and only the results are shown. The novel's true murderer, whose identity I had long stopped carrying about, is only revealed, by accident, at the novel's ending. Yes, you have to wade through almost two hundred pages of humdrum and tedious misbehavior in "The Cat Next Door" to get to the denouement. It's a bad sign when you envy the two dead characters as they got out of the novel before the reader did.
ON THE OTHER HAND, Kam Mac gives this novel a dynamite cover. What an excellent portrait of a cat, you can see every hair and whisker. Sadly, if you think you're going to read a mystery novel with a cat as an integral character you're going to be sadly disappointed. Tikki has little page time as he wanders in and out of the novel in a random manner, and is seen in only a few pages, total, of this novel . Lucky cat.
I'm sorry, but while Marian Babson has been very prolific over the years, there's just not a chance in Hell that I am going to read any more of her novels.
For this site I have reviewed these other British cozies:
The Limbo Connection by Derry Quinn.
Lock 14 (Inspector Maigret Mysteries) by George Simenon.
Lion in the Cellar by Pamela Branch.
Mrs. Bradley #18: The Rising of the Moon (Virago Modern Classics) by Gladys Mitchell.
Mrs. Bradley #46: Winking At the Brim - Large Print by Gladys Mitchell.
Mrs. Bradley #48: Late, Late in the Evening by Gladys Mitchell.
The shadow before by L. P. Davies.
What did I do tomorrow? by L. P. Davies.
The Wooden Overcoat by Pamela Branch.
And one from Canada.
In Adam's Fall by Phoebe Wray.