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Cat in the Dark


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About the Author

Shirley Rousseau Murphy is the author of twenty mysteries in the Joe Grey series, for which she has won the Cat Writers' Association Muse Medallion nine years running, and has received ten national Cat Writers' Association Awards for best novel of the year. She is also a noted children's book author, and has received five Council of Authors and Journalists Awards. She lives in Carmel, California, where she serves as full-time household help to two demanding feline ladies.


Modern-day descendants of ancient Celtic talking cats, Joe Grey and Dulcie make their hardback debut in this cat-chy tale (after three paperback adventures: Cat Raise the Dead, etc.). When the feline duo witnesses a series of burglaries in their California seaside village, they are intrigued. Finding the human culprit and his accomplice, an alluringly evil black cat named Azrael, who also talks, proves to be easy. After Joe Grey and Dulcie accuse him of the crimes, Azrael tells them the thefts are nothing, considering that soon three people will be murdered. Joe Grey and Dulcie know that a number of newcomers have recently moved to the area, including a cat-hating librarian, a shifty financial adviser, a vengeful Georgia couple and an austere handywoman. All of them are acting oddly‘even for humans: the librarian is trying to oust Dulcie from her position as official library cat; the financial adviser is wining and dining a local golddigger; the Georgians clandestinely photocopy their local aunt's financial portfolio; and the handywoman leads a hidden life. When the Georgia couple's bodies are found in the library's garden and the adviser is also murdered, the intrepid felines are on the case, much to the dismay of Joe's human keeper, contractor and car mechanic Clyde. As the cats surreptitiously survey the police investigation, they realize Azrael's missing human companion holds the key to the deaths. Rousseau writes a fast-paced tale, and she has a way with her cat scenes, but her mystery claws aren't as sharp as those of Rita Mae Brown or Lillian Jackson Braun (reviewed above). (Jan.)

Appearing for the first time in hardcover, this series (e.g., Cat Under Fire, HarperPrism, 1997) features cats who have emotions and intelligence, who talk to each other, and who investigate murder in a small California town. Depending on their frame of mind, readers will find this premise either silly and tedious or stimulating and charming, Two special felines, Dulcie and Joe Grey, spot the town's new, evil tomcat‘wily, partnered with human robbers, and prophetic of three killings. The cats' owners play out the plot on another level, of course, but the two converge when owners and cats converse. A special treat, then, for cat mystery fanciers.

YA-Cat lovers have long acknowledged the special qualities of felines, even those that don't speak, read, open locks, or act like private investigators. Joe Grey and Dulcie can do all of the above and more. While making a nighttime stroll around the quiet village of Molena Point, Joe and Dulcie witness a cat and a slovenly dressed man committing a robbery. The strange cat, Azrael, appears to be as evil as his name implies, and turns out to share the same unique abilities of Joe and Dulcie. The man turns out to be the brother of Mavity Flowers, one of the hard-working older women in the village. The two resident cats, faced with identifying the culprit, come across an investment scam, three deaths, and significant twisting of the plot. Human characters provide the realism in this mysterious fantasy that includes romantic interests and small-town squabbles. Dulcie's owner, Wilma Getz, and Joe's owner, Clyde Damen, serve as the major human players. As mutual friends their interactions bring the different parts of the plot together and provide a foundation for the series. The contemporary setting of Molena Point, complete with nightly fogs, adds just the right atmosphere for the midnight sleuthing of cats and dastardly humans. For teens who like fantasy, mystery, or cats, this title offers all three.-Pam Johnson, Fairfax County Public Library, VA Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

"Magical whimsy and deft writing".

-- Cats Magazine

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