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Guest Review: NINE LIVES AND ALIBIS by Cate Conte

Updated: Oct 25, 2023


In Nine Lives and Alibis, the seventh in Cate Conte's Cat Café beloved cozy mystery series, Daybreak Island is gearing up for Halloween―but this year, it seems like it'll be all tricks and no treats. It’s October in Daybreak Harbor, which means everything Halloween. The town is going all out for the holiday, hoping to one-up the festivities in neighboring Salem, Massachusetts, and Maddie James is delighted to be part of the planning for the annual happenings. But trouble brews when Maddie’s youngest sister, Sam, books a famous medium, Balfour Dempsey, to come to town for the celebrations and stay in the local haunted inn―along with his equally famous black cat. The town busybody books a secret reading with Balfour and doesn’t want anyone to know why. Maddie’s best friend Becky is hell-bent on getting Balfour to help her solve two 40-year-old mysteries―a murder and a missing maid. And the psychic has a stalker who’s followed him here to the island, demanding he connect with her dead husband. When Balfour is pushed off the cliffs behind the inn to his death and his beloved cat goes missing, it throws the whole town into a frenzy. And Maddie and her family find themselves in the middle of a murder mystery straight out of a Halloween movie.

GUEST REVIEW by Sophia Rose

Opening Lines- “What do you mean, the psychic can’t stay at the haunted inn? That’s kind of the whole point of bringing him here. To do readings at the haunted inn, in the haunted rooms. That’s one of the reasons he agreed to come.” Did I really need to explain this?

I come as a newbie to this series jumping in at the seventh book.  It can be a gamble doing that and I’ll admit that I probably didn’t catch all the nuances as a result.  However, I didn’t get lost as the author gave plenty of backdrop and started with Maddie, her family and the town working on their Halloween festivities.  I loved the small-town island setting and my attention was piqued right away when the haunted inn and the forty-year-old cold murder case that happened there were mentioned in the opening chapter.  Oh yes, a fall festival and historical mysteries at the inn were a delight to my eyes.


This is a cozy, so its pace was slow out of the gate when it comes to the murder- this doesn’t happen for several chapters.  I expected this, no longer being a cozy greenhorn, and got comfy for all the early antics with the cast of characters of Maddie’s family and small-town dynamics as they sought to outdo Salem as a Halloween destination for the tourists. Maddie owns a cat café with her granddad and has a rescue cat JJ.  She doesn’t spend much time with the café which I was rather curious about as a cat lover, but JJ gets on the page often enough to justify the series theme.

The murder victim, the celebrity guest psychic, was actually a guy I liked and was sad to see him bumped off.  He was well-liked so I think that made it harder to plunk to his killer’s motive for me.  Naturally, Cate Conte provided a good pile of characters who were a tad shifty-eyed even if it wasn’t for murder.


So, a fun autumn mystery read that hit the sweet spot for my seasonal craving.  Cozy mystery fans should pencil this series in for a tryout.

Nine Lives and Alibis by Cate Conte

#7 Cat Café Mystery

Cozy Mystery

Publisher:  Minotaur Books

Pages:  336

Rating: 4 stars


smiling white woman with short dark hair, wearing black top and lavender scarf
Cate Conte, author


I’ve been a writer since I could hold a pen. As a kid, I used to demand my mother read to me until I could do it on my own, and from then on my nose was always stuck in a book. I wrote it all—bad poetry, short stories, even the outline for a soap opera during a Days of Our Lives kick. I would even sit at my mother’s old typewriter and type out chapters of my favorite books to see what it felt like to actually write a book. In fifth grade, I wrote an essay describing my success as an author, and I’ve been on the path to achieving that dream ever since.

I blame my grandfather for my fascination with crime, serial killers and murder—he was a detective, and although he never regaled me with any really juicy tales, it didn’t stop me from making them up. I was—still am—obsessed.

There was no doubt in my mind that I would study writing in school, despite the advice I got from family members urging me to “have a backup plan.” I got an English degree from Salem State, and a master’s in writing and publishing from Emerson, where I wrote my (mostly terrible) first novel as a thesis.

And then realized murder and mayhem were my sweet spot and I needed to focus there. So, I started to write a mystery, and began the long process of getting it published.

In 2013, my first Pawsitively Organic MysteryKneading to Die, was published and subsequently nominated for an Agatha best first novel. This seven-book series features Stan Connor, a corporate PR maven turned gourmet pet food chef who solves murders in her spare time in her new picturesque small Connecticut town.

My alter ego Cate hit the scene in 2014 with The Cat Cafe Mysteries featuring Maddie James, who moves back to her childhood home on Daybreak Island off the coast of Massachusetts and subsequently opens a cat cafe to help with island rescue efforts. Of course, people are murdered along the way and Maddie discovers she has another skill—solving crimes.

My latest series, the Full Moon Mysteries, is a confluence of all my favorite things—witches, crystals, cats, moon phases and magic.

caricature of girl with brown hair and eyes and cream headband


Sophia is a quiet though curious gal who dabbles in cooking, book reviewing, piano-playing, and gardening. Road trips and campouts, museums and monuments, restaurants and theaters are her jam. Encouraged and supported by an incredible man and loving family. A Northern Californian transplant to the Great Lakes region of the US. Lover of Jane Austen, baseball, cats, Scooby Doo, and chocolate.

As a lifelong reader, it was inevitable that Sophia would discover book blogs and the joy of blog reviewing. In 2012, she submitted her first book review and is currently an associate reviewer.

Sophia is a prolific reader and audiobook listener which allows her to experience many wonderful books, authors, and narrators. Few genres are outside her reading tastes, but her true love is fiction particularly history, mystery, sci-fi, and romance. Sorry, no horror...or she will run like Shaggy and Scooby.



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