cover image Cat in the Dark

Cat in the Dark

Shirley Rousseau Murphy. HarperCollins Publishers, $22 (265pp) ISBN 978-0-06-105096-1

Modern-day descendants of ancient Celtic talking cats, Joe Grey and Dulcie make their hardback debut in this cat-chy tale (after three paperback adventures: Cat Raise the Dead, etc.). When the feline duo witnesses a series of burglaries in their California seaside village, they are intrigued. Finding the human culprit and his accomplice, an alluringly evil black cat named Azrael, who also talks, proves to be easy. After Joe Grey and Dulcie accuse him of the crimes, Azrael tells them the thefts are nothing, considering that soon three people will be murdered. Joe Grey and Dulcie know that a number of newcomers have recently moved to the area, including a cat-hating librarian, a shifty financial adviser, a vengeful Georgia couple and an austere handywoman. All of them are acting oddly--even for humans: the librarian is trying to oust Dulcie from her position as official library cat; the financial adviser is wining and dining a local golddigger; the Georgians clandestinely photocopy their local aunt's financial portfolio; and the handywoman leads a hidden life. When the Georgia couple's bodies are found in the library's garden and the adviser is also murdered, the intrepid felines are on the case, much to the dismay of Joe's human keeper, contractor and car mechanic Clyde. As the cats surreptitiously survey the police investigation, they realize Azrael's missing human companion holds the key to the deaths. Rousseau writes a fast-paced tale, and she has a way with her cat scenes, but her mystery claws aren't as sharp as those of Rita Mae Brown or Lillian Jackson Braun (reviewed above). (Jan.)