Craving a captivating kitty-centric caper? Cambridge resident Clea Simon has written just the series for you.

Craving a captivating kitty-centric caper? Cambridge resident Clea Simon has written just the series for you.

Simon’s latest mystery novel, “Cries and Whiskers,” follows music critic Theda Krakow as she investigates the hit-and-run death of an animal rights activist who cared more for wild animals than for people. But, as is usually the case in a good mystery, there’s much more to the activist’s death than initially meets the eye.

Interested yet? It gets even better: “Cries and Whiskers,” like the two Theda Krakow mysteries preceding it, takes place in none other than Cambridge.

“They’re set in Cambridge because I love that it’s a liberal and literate place,” Simon said. Among the topics dealt with in the book are animal rights vs. animal welfare, the city’s struggles gentrification, and how singles feel their way through relationships and friendships.

“There are a lot of mystery series about exotic places like Venice or New Orleans, but I think people from outside the area should know about Cambridge,” Simon said. “It has a cool history and a cool, happening culture. I think the greater Boston/Cambridge area is as fascinating as any place on earth and deserves to have its own stories brought to life.”

Simon grew up on Long Island and attended Harvard, where she studied English, American literature and novels of the early 1800s. “I really fell in love with the city,” she said. She lives near Inman Square, although her heroine, Theda, lives in Cambridgeport, as she did for many years.

A full-time writer and journalist who currently writes a radio column for the Boston Globe. Simon said she “kind of fell into journalism” and worked as a rock music critic for years for publications such as Rolling Stone, the Boston Globe, the Boston Herald and the Phoenix.

“At 46, I still go out to the occasional [music] show, but I no longer regret that Boston has a 2 a.m. closing hour, and I no longer drive to New York for a show, drive back when the show’s finished and stop in Connecticut for breakfast,” she laughed.

Simon has written three nonfiction books: “Mad House: Growing Up in the Shadow of Mentally Ill Siblings,” “Fatherless Women: How We Change After We Lose Our Dads” and “The Feline Mystique: On the Mysterious Connection Between Women and Cats.” “I started writing nonfiction because, having been a journalist, it was a natural extension,” Simon said.

But then, a few years ago, Kate Mattes of Kate’s Mystery Books on Mass. Ave. invited Simon to a holiday party for writers. Simon protested that, although she loves reading mysteries (she grew up reading “Encyclopedia Brown”), she had never written one. Mattes informed her that there is often an overlap between people who have cats and people who read mysteries and urged her to attend.

So Simon went to the party. “At the end of the night, [Mattes] said, ‘Clea, you should write a mystery.’ I swear I started the next day. She gave me permission,” Simon said.

In her first mystery, “Mew is for Murder,” an elderly woman who takes in cats is killed. The book deals with the issue of animal hoarding and was styled after the case of a local woman who considered herself a breeder, but had so many cats that the environment was not healthy for them, Simon said.

Her second mystery, “Cattery Row,” was based on a real set of crimes in New England when somebody was stealing high-end cats from breeders. “To me, that raises the question, why would anyone steal pedigreed cats?” Simon said. “It also gave me the chance to raise the question, should we be raising [high-end cats] at all when there are lovely animals in the shelter?”

In “Cries and Whiskers,” I really wanted to ratchet up the suspense,” Simon said. “One of the things that really interests me is how much we love our pets, and the different roles friends and pets play in our lives. Theda has to question her friends and their loyalty. Who do we care for? The innocent animal who depends on us, or the adult who made bad choices? In the real world, you can’t be everything for everyone — so who do you save?”

Theda’s cat, Musetta, also goes missing during this book. Not coincidentally, Simon also has a black-and-white cat named Musetta. However, “even though it’s my cat in them, [the books] are not cute… they’re almost like pet noir,” Simon said.

“I would never, ever hurt a cat in my books because the people who read books with animals in them don’t want that,” she added.

Simon stressed that, although she and Theda share much in common, they are not the same person. For one thing, “I’ve never found a dead body!” she said.

Simon’s not slowing down: she’s already drafted another book, this one a non-Theda mystery starring a Harvard graduate student. But fear not, cat-centric fans: “I definitely have more plans for Theda and Musetta.”

Meet Clea Simon Friday, Dec. 7, 5:30 p.m.

Holiday party, book signing with dozens of authors and book discounts. Simon is signing from 5:30-6:15 p.m. Kate’s Mystery Books, 221 Mass. Ave., Cambridge, 617-491-2660.

Friday, Dec. 7, 7 p.m.

Book launch party for “Cries and Whiskers” at Harvard Book Store, 1256 Mass. Ave., Cambridge, 617-661-1515.

Tuesday, Dec. 11, 7 p.m.

Reading and signing with Simon and mystery author Karen Olson. Brookline Booksmith, 279 Harvard St., Brookline. 617-566-6660.