Guest Blogger: Lynn-Steven Johanson – The Cat in the …Book

The Cat in the…Book by Lynn-Steven Johanson

I’m a cat lover as well as a dog lover. I live with dogs…and one cat. I should say, “my cat.” I admit to being owned by my cat, and he knows it. “Boris” is a Russian Blue, and he’s my best buddy. So, I guess it was only a matter of time that a feline would end up playing a role in one of my mysteries.

Havana Brown, the title of my most recent novel, is a prequel to Rose’s Thorn, my first mystery published in 2020. For those who may not know, the title comes from an uncommon breed of domestic cat, a shorthaired, chocolate brown beauty. And in the story, hairs from a Havana Brown provide the only common link in a series appalling serial murders. Those hairs are the only evidence Chicago Detective Joe Erickson has when he goes on the trail of a killer who has no desire to stop taking lives.

Spoiler alert: the cat didn’t do it! In fact, he’s not even an accomplice. Does the cat help catch the serial killer? Is he killed off in climactic gun battle? I can’t reveal that kind of juicy stuff! But he is a recurring character in Havana Brown.

When Rose’s Thorn begins, we learn Joe Erickson is on medical leave from Chicago PD after suffering a nervous breakdown shortly after catching a serial killer. We don’t learn anything about the circumstances. He has returned to his Iowa hometown to take care of his father’s estate. And while there, he bumps into his former lover, a criminal profiler, who has been called in to consult on a double murder. So, looking at this background information, the idea of a prequel began percolating, and the story came to fruition with Havana Brown.

Why did I include a cat in this mystery? Well, with hard-boiled crime fiction, you need to look for opposites and contrasts to the darker elements. And I think in this story, a cat not only provides clues for solving the crime, but also adds some interesting lighter moments and some incongruities that give certain characters dimension. In the end, I guess readers will determine how well I succeeded.


Lynn-Steven Johanson is an award-winning playwright whose plays have been produced on four continents. Born and raised in Northwest Iowa, Lynn holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. His first Joe Erickson Mystery, Rose’s Thorn, was published by Level Best Books in March 2020. They have scheduled the release of Havana Brown for April 2021. Lynn lives in Illinois with his wife and has three adult children. He is currently working on the third installment of his Joe Erickson Mysteries.

Lynn’s website: www.

Lynn’s Facebook Author Page:


14 thoughts on “Guest Blogger: Lynn-Steven Johanson – The Cat in the …Book”

    1. Sharon, I think the interesting thing is the different way cats are added — to help move the plot — do they think; solve the crime; speak out loud. All authors do it differently. Thanks for stopping by.

  1. I’m a cat lover myself and love it when cats are used in a book to help solve the crime or even make the plot more interesting and intriguing.
    Love Mysteries and these type of books. Would love to read and review your books in print format.

  2. I love cats! I can’t wait to read this one! We love Mysteries! Will be looking for your book to buy as soon as it comes out.


    I often write with cats, sometimes with the odd dog. If nothing else it’s a good place to have a speculative conversation. Thanks Lynn, I’m going to have to check into Havana Browns.

  4. With forensic crime detection now able to identify animals by nose prints and DNA, it is fitting that you have introduced a cat into your novel in a serious manner. I’m eager to see the finished product.

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