Mystery #3: Mallory and the Ghost Cat

I can’t even pretend to get excited about this book. First of all, it’s Mallory. Second of all, there’s a cat in the title and on the cover and I am not into cats. Let’s just get this over with… (that’s what Ben Hobart said).

It’s only page eight of this book and Mallory has already admitted that she still likes to play make-believe and that she and Jessi sometimes pretend they’re horses. Um… I’m even less on board with this story than I thought I was. Mr. and Mrs. Pike announce to the kids that Mr. Pike’s Uncle Joe (who was recently transferred to a Stoneybrook nursing home) will be coming to stay with them for about a month. Everyone’s excited, thinking he’ll pull quarters out of their ears and stuff, but Mr. Pike is like, “hold up – he’s old and cranky and shit.” So we’ll see how this goes…

In BSC news, Mallory snags a regular sitting job with new clients, the Craines, who have three daughters: Margaret, Sophie, and Katie. At her first sitting job for them, while the girls are taking a nap, Mallory keeps hearing a cat mewing and meowing, but she can’t find it. And when the girls wake up they inform her that they don’t have a cat. So Mallory is clearly bonkers. Or is she? The next time she sits for them, she and the girls hear the noises, follow them up to the attic, and find a silvery white cat that they call Ghost Cat. But, like, it’s a real cat. Dummies. They place an ad in the paper to see if they can find Ghost Cat’s owner.

Meanwhile, Uncle Joe comes to live with the Pikes and he’s terrible. He’s not friendly, seems ungrateful, doesn’t like kids’ sticky hands (although, who can blame him?), and forces everyone to eat bland foods. The Pike kids are not impressed. Uncle Joe’s a real bummer. Even Claudia agrees, but she has some sympathy – she saw how it was hard for Mimi after the stroke, when her body wasn’t working the way she wanted it to.

One day at the Craines’, Mallory and the girls go into the attic looking for Ghost Cat and find a stack of old letters written by the man who used to live in the Craine house. (His name is Kennedy Graham; how very Connecticut of him.) His letters tell the story of how he was sad and alone in the house until a kitten appeared on his doorstep, and he and the cat became best friends, and then the cat died and he was never the same again and sometimes still heard the cat mewing in the attic. So… Kennedy Graham is bonkers too?

The Pikes are beginning to think Uncle Joe is bonkers. He makes little collections of things like thread or balls of foil, he goes for walks and ends up napping on the neighbors’ couch, he forgets names or things he’s just said, etc. Turns out that Uncle Joe has Alzheimer’s, and he needs to go back to Stoneybrook Manor where he can be properly cared for. Turns out he’s happier there anyway.

“I love being the official ghostbuster of Stoneybrook.” – Dawn Schafer

Mallory enlists Dawn to come with her to the Craines’ and do some ghost-hunting, since Dawn is Stoneybrook’s resident paranormal expert. Dawn checks for chilly temperatures in the house and uses an ectoplasm meter. Yikes. She does a few more tests, too, and concludes (sadly for Dawn) that Ghost Cat is not a ghost… just a cat. (But they are still hearing mewing from the attic, even when GC is right in front of them.) Then Mallory gets a call from a man who saw the ad in the paper and claims that GC is his own cat, Rasputin (and proves it by asking about the nick in the cat’s ear). He says he’s out of town but will pick the cat up in two days. When the man finally shows up, he looks exactly like Kennedy Graham, and it makes the girls wonder – is he a ghost? (No. Duh.) Turns out the Craine girls liked GC so much, though, that their parents allow them to get their own cat. They pick a deaf white cat that looks like GC and they name her Tinkerbell.

And so this uneventful book comes to a close.

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