cover image Cat Out of Hell

Cat Out of Hell

Lynne Truss. Melville House (Random, dist.), $24.95 (256p) ISBN 978-1-61219-442-4

In this novel, British author Truss (Eats, Shoots & Leaves) presents a potent and darkly humorous tale featuring a demonic cat and a murder. Written in impeccable, grammatically refined sentences, this book has a tinge of a 19th-century gothic sensibility. Narrator Alec, a librarian, retreats with his dog, Watson, to a seaside cottage after the death of his wife, in “search of silence and tranquility.” There, he hears the story of Wiggy from a former colleague: Wiggy’s an actor who, after the sudden disappearance of his sister, encounters Roger, his sister’s tabby cat. The cat speaks English and wickedly beguiles Wiggy with stories about a telepathically interconnected brood of satanic nine-lived felines and their vendetta against mankind. Alec, a true librarian, becomes obsessed, burying himself in a folder of files, notes, audio clips, and photographs detailing Wiggy’s story. Finally, Alec learns Roger’s true intentions, which threaten both Alec and Watson. Everything comes to a bloody climax with the summoning of the Grand Cat Master, Beelzebub. Truss is a witty, effortless writer, making many references to classic literature while imbuing Roger with the slinky power to murder vengefully and surreptitiously. Cat lovers (or cat haters) and fans of gothic fiction will devour this creepy, paranoia-inducing morsel. (Mar.)