Thursday, September 11, 2014

Cats on the Case

I like mysteries with animals, especially cats. Animals are insightful in ways not possible in less sensitive humans. Some of my favorite cat and detective pairings are Mrs. Murphy and Pewter (Rita Mae Brown), Midnight Louie (Carole Douglas), and of course Koko and Yum Yum (Lilian Jackson Braun). In these mysteries the cats (and their other animal friends) talk to us as readers, but their humans are woefully unable to understand the often very important messages coming from their eager helpmates.

This isn't the case in Grey Zone by Clea Simon. Mr. Grey talks loud and clear (when he feels like it), not to just to us but also to his owner, an often misunderstood doctoral student Dulcinea Schwartz, Dulcie for short. Some of us who are cat owners might not find talking cats too big a reach, but here’s the kicker…Mr. Grey is a ghost cat.

As Dulcei moves in and out of the Harvard campus and Boston proper, she’s trying to piece together her life around a missing student, a suicide, her stalled doctorate paper, her insecurities about her own fast moving relationship with boyfriend Chris, and wondering if hearing a ghost cats talk is really a sign that she’s headed around the bend. Oh, and little troublemaker kitten Esme, Mr. Grey’s earthbound replacement…does she talk to Dulci too?


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