Five-Alarm Fire

The Cat Caliban Mysteries: Book Five

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Pub Date Sep 01 2021 | Archive Date Sep 11 2021
Boomerang Books | Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA), Members' Titles

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Crabby is how Cat has felt ever since menopause hit and her friends think she can work off her aggressions pounding clay in a beginners' potter class. But someone has mistaken Cat's pot for a blunt instrument and they’re firing something besides clay in the art center kiln. Now that things are really heating up, Cat's detective work leads to a legendary lost collection of vases from Rookwood Pottery, Cincinnati's famed art pottery — a collection once owned by an equally legendary madam from one of the city's most exclusive houses of prostitution during the second decade of the twentieth century. But what other secrets have been lost along the way and who would kill to keep them dead and buried?

Crabby is how Cat has felt ever since menopause hit and her friends think she can work off her aggressions pounding clay in a beginners' potter class. But someone has mistaken Cat's pot for a blunt...

A Note From the Publisher

ebook: 9781735267548

ebook: 9781735267548

Advance Praise

Praise for the Cat Caliban Mysteries:

“Wonderful stuff.”
--Kathy Phillips, Drood Review of Mystery

“Great fun.”
--Sharon Wells, Mysterious Women

“A wit and warmth you’ll love.”
--Mary Alice Gorman, Mystery Lovers Bookshop News

“If there was a fire, I’d grab these books first.”
--Grinning Cat, Amazon Reader

Praise for the Cat Caliban Mysteries:

“Wonderful stuff.”
--Kathy Phillips, Drood Review of Mystery

“Great fun.”
--Sharon Wells, Mysterious Women

“A wit and warmth you’ll love.”
--Mary Alice Gorman, Mystery...

Available Editions

EDITION Paperback
ISBN 9781735267555
PRICE $12.99 (USD)

Available on NetGalley

NetGalley Shelf App (EPUB)
Send to Kindle (EPUB)

Average rating from 23 members

Featured Reviews

This is an excellent book. Cat Caliban is an unconventional grandma full of sass. While taking a pottery class she discovers the remains of a murdered person. Well developed characters with a plot full of twists and turns. Thanks #netgalley and #Boomerangbooks for the eARC in exchange for an honest review..

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Wanna'be Private Investigator Cat Caliban may be a hormonal mess what with menopausal night sweats and hot flashes but when it comes to sussing out the bad guys, she has good instincts. You might think her successes are more the result of pure dumb luck than actual expertise but then you'd be wrong. As a distraction to the ravages of middle age, Cat and her friends take a pottery class but the night she has kiln duty, the Cincinnati Arts Center turns into a major crime scene. Cat discovers human bone fragments among the ashes in an already cold kiln and then she gets conked on the head and a major fire breaks out. What ensues is a tangled web of murder, history, genealogy and Rookwood pottery.

In "Five-Alarm Fire" D.B. Borton gets Cat deeply embroiled in early nineteenth century Cincinnati history, centered around what at that time was its red light district. Not exactly a topic for polite society but whoever said Cat Caliban was polite? Au contraire. Cat is the antithesis of polite, especially when she goes on a tear and starts swearing like a sailor on shore leave. She's a delightfully offbeat character that sometimes gets in over her head yet she somehow manages to succeed in spite of herself. I can relate to that. Four stars.

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In Which Cat Discovers Ceramics…
In which sleuth Cat is very reluctantly persuaded into taking a pottery class. Events take a dark turn, however, when a body is discovered within the ceramics. With a delightful protagonist, pitch perfect narrative and a colourful cast of supporting characters this is another entertaining read and a worthy addition to the series.

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The perfect heroine, albeit unconventional. A great balance of humour and mystery, which is not often something authors can find. This isn’t a cozy mystery despite the quirky characters and fun setting - it’s a strong mystery which will keep readers engaged.

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When aspiring PI Cat Caliban signs up for a beginner pottery class at the local art centre, she probably didn't expect to find ashes and bone fragments in the art centre's kiln. The plot thickens when Cat discovers a possible connection between this case and a legendary missing collection of vases once owned by a famous madam from one of Cincinnati's houses of prostitution in the early 20th century. The more Cat investigates, the more secrets she uncovers. Are these secrets really worth killing for?

The more I read cozies, the more I realize just how many books rely on similar tropes and character types. They're usually set in the present, usually in a fictional small town, usually with a young or middle-aged female protagonist, usually with an all-white cast of characters. Five-Alarm Fire is a wonderful exception to this observation.

For starters, Cat and many of her friends are older than the typical protagonists of the genre, with Cat's age playing an important role in how she conducts her investigations and how she is perceived by others. It's also the first cozy mystery I've read that includes several well-rounded and prominent characters of colour and LGBTQ+ characters! The book's discussions of more serious topics like ageism, race, and sex work are dealt with thoughtfully, in a way that greatly contributes to the plot and the backstories of the characters.

On top of all of this, it's a historical mystery in two ways: it's set in the late 1980s and the main mystery digs into the past. It's clear that Borton has done her research on the real-life history of Cincinnati and its pottery. I highly enjoyed reading the historical tidbits and facts she included.

All in all, this book features interesting plotlines, realistic and hilarious characters, and a cozy mystery that's different from the typical book in the genre. 10/10 would recommend this book!

Readers should know that there is some strong language in the book, but it's used sparingly. Also, the book includes some mild violence.

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Having not read the previous books in the series, I enjoyed the twists and turns of menopausal amateur sleuth Cat Caliban’s adventures as she sought to solve a murder of the victim she discovered in the pottery kiln. Mix in a dash of racial tension and an inheritance search and this sleuth was kept on her toes. At least her wry sense of humour and a group of (mostly) supportive friends got her through her battles with menopause and no one else was murdered. Although I would consider it a light read, the book touches on more serious topics like ageism, race, and sex work in a way that is both interesting and insightful. Set in the 1980’s and delving into the past makes this a well researched double historical mystery. An enjoyable, light read, good as a standalone piece. Highly recommend. .

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I would like to thank Netgalley and Boomerang Books for an advance copy of Five Alarm Fire, the fifth novel to feature Cincinnati based amateur sleuth Cat Caliban.

Cat is menopausal and stressed so her friends suggest a pottery for beginners course as relaxation. Not so relaxing when one of her misshapen pots is used as a weapon before the body is stuffed in the kiln and burned. Soon she’s investigating a link to the missing Justice collection of Rookwood pottery, once owned by an infamous madam in the early 20th century.

I thoroughly enjoyed Five Alarm Fire, which is a humorous cosy with a plot full of twists and turns. It is told entirely from Cat’s point of view in the first person, so what she knows the reader knows, not that it helped me guess either the perpetrator or motive.

The novel starts with a laugh or two at Cat’s expense and then gets down to the serious business of setting the scene and introducing the first murder, because, oh yes, there is more than one and a few other major crimes. Ok, I was kidding about the serious bit. Cat has a lively sense of humour and a rather trenchant take on life, so the laughs keep coming, whether through her observations, unorthodox approach to investigating or mishaps.

The novel was first published in 1996 and is set in the mid eighties, so I’m not sure how dated that makes the plot nowadays as it is all about race. It made me feel slightly uncomfortable by the end, but I’m not American and have no wish to pass judgement on something I haven’t experienced.

Five Alarm Fire is a fun read that I can recommend.

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First, I loved it.
Second, Menopause is not equivalent to Medicare as MOST women go through it in their early to mid-forties!
Time of story is 1985 Cincinnati, book was originally published in 1996 and does have a lot of true historical information about people and attitudes in the US and elsewhere as well as facts about Cincinnati Art Pottery, specifically Rookwood. That being said, this book is hilarious because of the situational and especially the verbal humor. The cozy murder mystery is very well done as Cat brangles with friends and law enforcement over her way of sleuthing. Plenty of plot twists and red herrings, too. I loved it and plan to hunt up others with Cat Caliban!
I requested and received a free ebook copy from Boomerang Books, Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) via NetGalley. THANK YOU!

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This book maybe based in the late 1980s but its surprisingly apt for the current issues the world is facing now.

Issues such as racism, ageism, LGBTQ+ issue and sex work are handled beautifully and with such empathy. Even though quite a bit of the focus is on the theft, the ending was all about getting justice in any form.

Coming to the story, Cat undergoes through THE change as one undergoes at her age. And her emotions are all over the place. To cheer her up and distract her from her predicament, the fellow residents of Catatonia Arms (Cat's neighbours) decide to enrol Cat and themselves in a pottery class.

Cat and Moses are having a very hard time of it, which makes for a hilarious description and dialogue.😂
Which means I had to Google a bit of all the pottery jargon mentioned in the book. Apart from that there is a particularly chaotic and funny Halloween scene for which I burst out laughing and couldn't stop for a while.😂

Cat finds the burned bones of the victim in the klin and later finds out her misshapen pot/plate is the murder weapon.

The mystery aspect was quite strong in this book. It was so difficult to even guess the "whodunnit" and "why" part this time. However I would've liked to know a bit more of Cat's thought process as she was investigating the case.
I found my attention wandering as Cat was interviewing suspects and delving into history.
As a result it took me long to finish this one.

Also I felt there were less of the pets and their shenanigans this time and I missed them.
Overall it's a pretty relevant and good cozy mystery. I already have the sequels to this and I'm excited to read them.

Thankyou to Netgalley and the Author for sending me this review copy.

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What a fun mystery. Love Cat's sarcasm and snarky ways. She made me smile. I spent years in the Cincinnati area so loved revisiting some old haunts. The mystery is a good one, the characters are interesting and the ending was a bit of a twist. I liked the book!

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