Read on to discover three cat mysteries that have had readers purring. You might enjoy curling up with one - assuming, of course, that your cats allow you to share their sofa.
Sam the Cat Detective, by Linda Stewart. Published in 1993 by Scholastic as a trade paperback. Stewart tells a classic urban noir tale -- with all the key roles, from gumshoe to bimbo, played by cats. Sam, the P.I., is a handsome Russian blue who, with his human partner, runs a specialty bookstore. His client is Sugary, a sultry longhaired cat from the building's penthouse who comes to Sam for help after her owners are burglarized. The thieves took off with a jade necklace that one of her owners had made for a customer; it's not insured, and her owner faces financial ruin. After negotiating his fee -- half a pound of lox, plus expenses, and a small can of tuna in advance -- Sam goes to work. He enlists a few toughs (like Spike, a big black cat who lives upstairs, and Butch, who lives in an adjacent alley) and checks out the buzz on the street with a feline fatale by the name of Angie ("Tan-colored. Tough. You go to see Angie, man, you better sharpen your nails"). This book is a gem, right down to the cover illustration by Chuck Leslie. It shows Sam on a dark street corner with his shadow, cast by the streetlight behind him, sporting a tough-guy fedora.
The Man with My Cat (1999) is Paul Engleman's wickedly funny take on the cat mystery subgenre. It opens with Phil Mooney and his wife Frankie on the doorstep of a Chicago cat shelter, trying to summon up the nerve to unload a Maine Coon cat named Phull -- a charmless and destructive beast they have inherited from Phil's dad. They wind up taking Phull to the local vet instead, in the dim hope that neutering may discourage him from spraying the Mooney household from top to bottom. But when they return to pick up the cat, they discover that he's been stolen -- and a nasty fellow who cost Phil his career with the city fire department appears to be mixed up in it. The Man with My Cat is a wise-cracking urban mystery with the hard-bitten "sez who? sez me!" ambiance of a Mike Royko column. It will be treasured by anyone who's ever had a love/hate relationship with a cat.
A Cat of One's Own (1999) is the 17th book in the popular series about ailurophilic actress and amateur detective Alice Nestleton, written by Lydia Adamson. (Adamson is the nom de plume of Frank King, who also employs it for an animal-oriented series involving veterinarian Deirdre Nightingale and for a bird-oriented series with sleuth Lucy Wayles; in addition, King wrote a dog-oriented series under his own name.) While most cat mystery series follow a particular feline/detective team, Adamson sticks with one sleuth but cleverly introduces a new cat -- or cats -- in each book. In A Cat of One's Own, Alice has helped her recently widowed friend Amanda select Jake, a distinctive brindle cat, from the local shelter. When Jake is catnapped, Amanda pays $15,000 in ransom -- but then is found murdered with Jake, unharmed, by her side. Alice, who was watching the ransom pick-up, becomes a murder suspect. This New York series has more drama and passion than the usual cat cozy, plus a fascinating array of feline breeds and personalities.
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