I'm an avid Marian Babson fan, and cannot think of a single novel that she's written that I did not enjoy to some degree or another. Having admitted to that, I must own that while I enjoyed reading "The Cat Next Door," this novel, unlike previous Babson books, was not that much of a mystery novel. It was not one of her lighthearted works either. Essentially, the plot is as follows: about a year ago, Claudia (wife of rising member of parliament, Kingsley) was found stabbed in her parent's garden. Standing over her with a knife in her hand, was her twin sister, Chloe Morton. Now, Chloe's trial is about to begin, and family members have descended from all corners of the world in order to give support to shell-shocked family.
Margot (cousin to Chloe and Claudia), a professional photographer, returns home to her childhood home, in order to lend support to the uncle and aunt who helped raise her (Chloe and Claudia's parents). Tired and depressed, she is appalled to find that her uncle and aunt have more or less fallen apart at the seams: her Aunt Milly has retreated into the world of Regency romance novels, and her Uncle Wilfred has taken to overeating. And then there is Claudia's teenage daughter, Lynette, who has barricaded herself in her grandparents's bedroom and refuses to leave... As the date of the trial draws near, the tense atmosphere in the house mounts, as Margot tries to make sense of what happened and of Chloe's refusal to cooperate with the police or her counsel (Chloe has refused to talk to anyone about Claudia's murder). Kingsley wants the family to pressure Chloe to plead guilty so that she will never have to face a trial, and so that Lynette will not have to testify. But Margot cannot help but wonder if Chloe is actually guilty of having killed Claudia, or if she is covering up for someone else?
"The Cat Next Door" is not really a murder mystery novel at all (there are no cunning plot twists or red herring suspects), but a study of the psychological study of how a slightly eccentric family copes with a crisis. The novel unfolded a little slowly but flowed effortlessly, thus making it a really easy read. I must admit however that the manner in which everything was finally resolved did beggar belief! For the Claudia's murderer to calmly admit all, esp when no one suspected this character of any wrongdoing was not very probable. I think it would have been more likely for this character to have carried on the course (s)he had decided on and let everyone else stew! However the book was a nice read, and if you're looking for something to curl up with before falling asleep, you can't really go wrong with this novel.