cover image Cat Crimes Through Time

Cat Crimes Through Time

. Carroll & Graf Publishers, $24 (352pp) ISBN 978-0-7867-0555-9

The editors, prolific anthologists all, keep coming up with new ways to package short mystery fiction. This time, they target fans of both feline and historical mysteries. Unfortunately, their offerings are mostly mediocre. Each tale takes place in a period setting, with a feline figuring in the outcome, occasionally outsmarting the human characters. One of the few truly entertaining entries is Carol Gorman's ""The Death Cat of Hester Street,"" set in late-19th-century New York. Also notable are ""The Mummy Case,"" by Carole Nelson Douglas, a clever tale narrated by a sacred cat at Pharaoh's court in ancient Egypt, and ""St. Margaret's Kitten,"" by Doug Allyn, wherein a troubadour and his adopted kitten find murder at a nobleman's castle in 12th-century Scotland. Only a few of the remaining stories rate mentioning, and those more for their human, rather than feline, characters. Gary A. Braunbeck's ""Mail-Order Annie"" tells of a mail-order bride with a big problem. ""Fur Bearing,"" by Brett Hudgins, set in a 19th-century Canadaian fur-trapping settlement, presents lively characters. Most often, the authors in this collection seem to proffer their feline heroes as afterthought rather than as inspiration: readers can expect wet fur and few purrs. (Jan.)