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Cat to the Dogs

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Three and one half moon gifAvon Mystery (Paperback), ISBN 0061059889
Pussycat extraordinaire Joe Grey and his ladylove Dulcie speak and understand English. They each live with remarkable human companions who accept this skill and, in one case, encourage it.

While hunting one night, Joe witnesses a horrible auto crash. Snooping around he discovers a cut brake line. Joe knows premeditated murder when he sees and smells it, and proceeds to include himself in the police investigation because every so often a moral, thinking cat needs to reaffirm his humanity (felinity?) helping right wrongs. It's the cat-ly thing to do.

Meanwhile, Dulcie spies on Lucinda, whose philandering husband just drowned. The curious lady cat wants to know why Lucinda allowed her husband's rude, obnoxious family to just walk in and take apart her life and home.

Shirley Rousseau Murphy's excellent personification of felis catus domesticus combines fantasy and accurate observations of feline behavior to bring the reader an enjoyable tale. I plan to read her early books, Cat on the Edge, Cat Under Fire, Cat Raise The Dead and Cat in the Dark as soon as possible.

Book: Shirley Rousseau Murphy, Cat in the DarkFrom the beginning of recorded fiction, authors included pets in their tales. At the moment, pet novels -- especially pet mysteries -- enjoy tremendous popularity. And why not? Anybody who loves their companion animal knows how smart they are and that including these animals adds warmth and interest. Pets can uncover clues that the human protagonist misses or would never find. Pet protagonists inject a totally different perspective, coupled with an out-of-species viewpoint on the human condition.

It struck me that Cat to the Dogs falls into the least populated of my self-made list of animal book flavors:

  • Books where the animals just live with the protagonist. Millions of examples, including many reviewed by Crescent Blues: Jill Churchill's Jane Jeffries series, Laurien Berenson's Melanie Travis series, Evan Marshall's Jane Stuart mysteries and more.
  • Books where the animals aid the protagonist and move the plot along. Again countless examples, including Lillian Jackson Braun's Cat Who series.
  • Books where the animals speak (i.e.: boast an individual point of view) but other characters carry most of the dialogue and plot development. Stand-outs include Carole Nelson Douglas's Midnight Louie books and Rita Mae Brown's Mrs. Murphy series.
  • Books where the animals are the protagonists, such as Shirley Rousseau Murphy's Joe Grey Mysteries.

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Suzanne Frisbee

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