Cat Telling Tales: A Joe Grey Mystery by Shirley Rousseau Murphy (William Morrow, $19.99, 384 pages)
Just in time for the holidays, this Joe Grey mystery dishes up a warm serving of human kindness. Of course there’s plenty of evil and mayhem for the team of kitties and their humans to get their teeth into. There are human victims in the mix, old and young, dead and alive. (Please see the prior review of Cat Coming Home on this site for background on the story line. The review, “Dead Man’s Curve”, was posted on November 17, 2010.)
As with prior books in this series, Cat Telling Tales provides an opportunity to champion the victims of crime. Rather than a specific victim, in this tale the focus is on the pets that have been dumped by folks made homeless by the economic meltdown in recent years. Author Murphy provides ample evidence of how pets are abandoned and what can be done to put their lives back together. She champions the townsfolk who take the time and make the effort to gather the resources to give the abandoned pets a fresh start. Readers who love cats, and dogs for that matter, can use the ideas presented for fundraisers in their own communities or join their local organizations that are the counterparts to ones referenced in the book. (Please see the links and contact information below for the organizations supported by this site.)
Not all the victims in this tale were guiltless; however, in the hierarchy of crime murder takes the top spot. The body count adds up to three this time around. Joe Grey, Dulcie and Kit are joined by Misto who was introduced in the aforementioned book as the older yellow tom cat. As is her style, Ms. Murphy enriches her cast with yet another newcomer. Yes, he’s fascinating and he does catch Kit’s attention. Some things don’t change.
A review copy was provided by the publisher. Cat Telling Tales was released on November 22, 2011.
Happy Tails Pet Sanctuary – Sacramento, CA
http://www.happytails.org/ E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Telephone: (916) 556-1155
Sacramento SPCA – Sacramento County
http://www.sspca.org/ Telephone: (916) 383-7387
The Secret Lives of Dresses by Erin McKean (5 Spot; $13.99; 304 pages)
Don’t be fooled by the naive feeling that permeates this novel at the outset. The main character is twenty-year-old Dora Winston and her perspective on life shapes the story. Dora, an orphan, was raised by her beloved paternal grandmother, Mimi Winston, who is a widow. Their relationship affects the way Dora sees the world and is the basis for her intensely personal sense of values. Dora’s parents died in an automobile crash when she was just a baby. So Mimi is her whole family.
The reader is introduced to Dora as she is rushing to the hospital where Mimi is being treated for a stroke. The stroke renders Mimi helpless and her doctors are on alert for any signs of consciousness. The circumstances of Mimi’s stroke could be seen as devastating and yet, author McKean somehow manages to morph the story into a classic example of catastrophe = opportunity.
Dora steps up and chooses to keep her grandmother’s vintage women’s clothing store open for business, taking time away in the evenings to visit the hospital. The clothing is not used in the sense of being secondhand; rather, each dress has a unique provenance. Although the novel is not a mystery, there is a mysterious quality to McKean’s portrayal of the characters. This reviewer wanted to know more about them and their lives. There is a wide range for these characters which sets up good contrasts among contemporaries such as Dora and her cousin Tyffannee or Mimi and Gabby, her housemate.
Through trial and error Dora learns to maintain an open mind permitting her to see the world around her in an unfiltered manner. She compares her inner hopes and dreams, or the lack thereof, with what’s actually possible. Due to the wide variety of ages portrayed, McKean keeps her story from being typecast as a young adult book. The maturity exhibited by Dora is a refreshing change from the self-centered way many twenty-somethings appear to behave on TV and in the movies.
A review copy was received from the publisher.