BOOKS: Cat Telling Tales by Shirley Rousseau Murphy

From ANIMAL PEOPLE,  January/February 2012:

Cat Telling Tales
by Shirley Rousseau Murphy
William Morrow  (10 E.  53rd St.,  New York,  NY 10022),  2011.
373 pages,  hardcover.  $19.99.

Mysteries don’t top my reading list,  but feline sleuth Joe
Grey and his crime-solving sidekicks,  two scrappy cats named Dulcie
and Kit,  are entertaining in Shirley Rousseau Murphy’s 18th novel,
Cat Telling Tales.  The action takes place in the coastal community
of Molena Point,  California,  where Joe always seems to be involved
in solving murders.  Plucky and persistent,  Joe tracks down details
and shares them with police chief Max Harper,  who makes the arrests.
In Cat Telling Tales,  fire leaves a 12-year old boy
homeless.  His guardian Hesmerra,  an older alcoholic,  is found dead
amidst the ashes. 

To find out why Hesmerra didn’t escape,  Joe
sniffs around for clues.  Did someone want her dead?  And if so,  why?
Meanwhile,  Debbie Kraft invites herself and her two children
to live with Joe’s human family because of money woes.  That puts Joe
into a snit.  He doesn’t want to be around the chaos,  especially
after one of the kids whacks him.  Joe’s hackles rise when he learns
that Debbie’s estranged mother is none other than Hesmerra,  the dead
woman.  Debbie,  who claimed to be broke,  has a stash of money she
is evidently keeping secret.  And Debbie’s ex-husband is involved in
shady real estate deals.

Murphy touches on the plight of pets who lost their homes
during the mortgage collapse:   “The saddest victims of the downturn,
Ryan thought,  were the abandoned pets left behind like broken toys
for trash pick-up,  innocent animals who had become victims of a vast
financial war.”

Several hundred dogs,  cats,  horses and other domestic pets
were abandoned in empty homes by stressed-out owners who fled job
loss and foreclosure.  Thousands of pets were surrendered to shelters
or simply dumped.

To find out how Joe Grey unravels the mystery,  you’ll have
to read Cat Telling Tales.             –Debra J. White

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