Book Review (and a Giveaway!): Dial M for Meow by Ruth J. Hartman

Posted January 16, 2023 by meezcarrie in contemporary, cozy mystery, giveaway, mystery/suspense, Ruth J. Hartman / 3 Comments

DIAL M FOR MEOW by Ruth J. Hartman
Bookshop Kitties Mysteries #1

GENRE: Cozy Mystery
PUBLISHER: Gemma Halliday Publishing
RELEASE DATE: January 10, 2023
PAGES: 263

From author Ruth J. Hartman comes a purrrrfect new cozy mystery series…

When children’s book author, Christy Bailey, receives a call from her aunt Betty to help out at her bookshop, she drops everything to go. Christy packs up her two cats—Milton and Pearl, the stars of her children’s mystery books—and leaves busy Philadelphia for tiny Green Meadow, Indiana. The timing of the call is perfect, as Christy’s letch of an ex-boyfriend has just cleaned out her savings, leaving Christy with a pile of unpaid bills and a desire to start over. And what better place to do that than a charming small town in Middle America?

But when Christy reaches her aunt’s bookshop, instead of small town hospitality she finds a dead body! Even worse, her aunt is passed out in the corner, hands covered in blood. The dead woman is an old frenemy of her Aunt Betty, and while Christy knows her aunt is innocent, the local detective isn’t so sure. With Milton and Pearl prowling for clues, Christy is determined to find the real killer and clear her aunt’s name… before her story ends in tragedy!


Nothing says ‘welcome home’ like finding a dead body in your aunt’s apartment! Such is the case for Christy Bailey, though at least her aunt isn’t the deceased. She can’t relax for too long, however, as Aunt Betty ends up being the prime suspect. While Christy originally returned to Green Meadow to help her aunt with her bookstore, she of course must now also work to clear Aunt Betty’s name. And, just like with most cozy mysteries, there seems to be no shortage of people who wanted the victim dead.

In Dial M for Meow, Ruth J. Hartman introduces us to the winsome Christy, her beloved aunt Betty, a town full of intriguing supporting characters (including a swoony young ER doctor!), and Christy’s charming cats, Milton & Pearl. Even though I nearly always prefer dogs (in fiction and real life), I really enjoyed watching Christy’s cats steal the show on these pages. They already star in her children’s book series, but they apparently have been taking detective classes from their fictional counterparts because their instincts were spot-on and left me smiling. This aspect of Christy’s life adds some unique layers to the bookstore setting, and I thought it gave the story a lot of charm, too.

The mystery is well-plotted, and I admit to being surprised at the big reveal. I fell for a couple of skillfully placed red herrings and had my own theories that, in the end, proved to be completely wrong. Actually, some of those red herrings may very well end up being a subplot or two in the next books of the series, so maybe I was just too early in my suspicions haha.

Bottom Line: Dial M for Meow is a fun start to a new bookstore-themed cozy mystery with a dash of feline cleverness to keep readers purring … ahem … with contentment. The characters we’re supposed to love are engaging, and the characters we’re supposed to love to hate definitely live up to their purpose. The author’s friendly & witty writing voice keeps readers invested in the story, and Milton & Pearl keep readers invested in the series, too. A light read that’s perfect for your next cozy mystery selection!

(I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the author. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.)

My Rating: 4 stars / enjoyed it!

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Ruth J. Hartman spends her days herding cats and her nights spinning mysterious tales. She, her husband, and their cats love to spend time curled up in their recliners watching old Cary Grant movies. Well, the cats sit in the people’s recliners. Not that the cats couldn’t get their own furniture. They just choose to shed on someone else’s.

Ruth, a left-handed, cat-herding, farmhouse-dwelling writer uses her sense of humor as she writes tales of lovable, klutzy women who seem to find trouble without even trying.

Ruth’s husband and best friend, Garry, reads her manuscripts, rolls his eyes at her weird story ideas, and loves her despite her insistence all of her books have at least one cat in them. See updates about her cozy mysteries at

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3 responses to “Book Review (and a Giveaway!): Dial M for Meow by Ruth J. Hartman

  1. Roxanne C.

    This sounds like a fun and very intriguing cozy mystery, one that will have me trying to distinguish between red herrings and real clues.

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