Merrimon Book Reviews

Edgar Allan Poe

Byam Shaw's illustration for Poe's The Black Cat in "Selected Tales of Mystery" (London : Sidgwick & Jackson, 1909)

Illustration for "The Black Cat" by Aubrey Beardsley (1894–1895)

From Merrimon Book Reviews
Cat Striking Back
Cat Striking Back by Shirley Rousseau Murphy
by Shirley Rousseau Murphy

Unique, refreshing cat mystery series!

When tom cat Joe Grey smells blood and sees track marks near an empty house's swimming pool, he knows there has been a murder.   With such faint clues and the absence of a body, can the tip to the Molina Point, California Police Department be enough to solve the murder?  Taking matters into his own hands, Joe Grey sets out to investigate with his feline friends Dulcie and Kit  in the ways only cats can.  Even two local ferals join him.  Joe discovers all sorts of conflicts among the seemingly tranquil neighborhood.  Will he and his friends be able to stop the killer before he strikes again, and at what cost to themselves?  With the killer's pathological fear of cats, Joe and his feline friends will have their paws full!

CAT STRIKING BACK, the newest in the long running Joe Grey mystery series, combines fantasy and mystery with a feline tom cat sleuth able to talk, not only to other cats but humans as well.  Not only does the reader enter into his thoughts directly from the cat but the interaction with humans adds a wonderful sense of humor to this mystery.  The author alternates point of view so that the reader is taken into the thoughts of the other cats in this mystery.  Kit's interactions with the feral cats, Tansy and Sage, are particularly moving.  The author clearly at her best when narrating through the eyes of cats.  Each cat has his own identity and voice.  Each draws the reader into the world the author creates.  If you love cats, Shirley Rousseau Murphy's mysteries are a must!  Tom Cat Joe Grey and his bit of swagger is downright cool.  Kit's story pulls on the heartstrings.  Even the feral cats and their world is presented with a richness and multi-dimensionality.

Newcomers to the series, like myself, who are unfamiliar to the series might find the shifting points of view a bit distracting in the beginning, although this becomes less of an issue as one continues to read and becomes familiar with the voices of the different cats, voices which the author clearly distinguishes.  Nevertheless, whether you start here or earlier,
CAT STRIKING BACK will leave a reader wanting more Joe Grey mysteries!   CAT STRIKING BACK is not just another cat mystery.  If you love cats and are looking for something unique to add to your reading list, the voices of Shirley Rousseau Murphy's cats are fresh and exciting.  If you are looking for a mystery with a unique edge, the ending here was certainly unexpected and refreshing as well.

Avon (May 4, 2010)
A Joe Grey Mystery
Author website

Reviewed by Merrimon, Merrimon Book Reviews
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