cover image Cat Shout for Joy

Cat Shout for Joy

Shirley Rousseau Murphy. Morrow, $19.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-06-240349-0

Rousseau's uneven 19th Joe Grey Mystery (after 2012's Cat Bearing Gifts) finds talking tomcat PI Joe Grey, and his pregnant partner, Dulcie, investigating a string of assaults in Molena Point, Calif. Most assume the attacks are cruel pranks, as the initial victims are all elderly and any serious injuries appear incidental. However, when a healthy young carpenter is killed, the villagers begin to fear something more sinister is afoot. Cat fans will love Murphy's complex and intelligent feline characters and the special relationships they share with their human housemates. Readers in search of a fair-play mystery may be left wanting, though, as the whodunit portion of the tale takes a backseat to the imminent death of terminally ill cat Misto and the impending birth of Joe and Dulcie's kittens. The duo's detecting skills are sharp, but suspects and clues are scarce, and the killer's motivation feels tacked on. A tonally jarring subplot involving the journey of fellow cats Kit and Pan to a land populated with unicorns, elves, and dragons feels digressive and further muddies the main story line. (Feb.)