Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Mystery Book Review: Cries and Whiskers by Clea Simon

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written a review of Cries and Whiskers by Clea Simon. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

Cries and Whiskers by Clea SimonBuy from Amazon.com
Cries and Whiskers by Clea Simon
A Theda Krakow Mystery

Poisoned Pen Press (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 1-59058-464-3 (1590584643)
ISBN-13: 978-1-59058-464-4 (9781590584644)
Publication Date: December 2007
List Price: $24.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): When an animal rights activist is killed by a hit-and-run driver on an icy Cambridge street, music critic Theda Krakow can’t get too upset. The victim cared more for wild animals than for people, and had no use at all for domesticated pets, such as the black-and-white cat Musetta that Theda adores. Besides, Theda is caught up in investigating the rise of a dangerous new designer drug that threatens the musicians and fans who make up the club scene she considers her second home.

But when the feline-friendly writer learns that the accident victim was defying her own radical group to rescue feral cats on the eve of a ferocious winter storm, she puts her own prejudices aside to help out. As Theda and her buddy, the punk-rock shelter owner Violet, race to save these half-wild felines from the freezing New England winter, they uncover simmering tensions that make the activist’s death seem more than an accident. Could a friend have been the fatal driver? Is Violet more involved with the extremist group than she’s let on?

Even while kittens are at risk and the new drug hits close to home, Theda tries to hang onto her journalistic objectivity. But when the threats become more personal and Musetta goes missing, Theda risks her reputation, her career, and possibly her life as the word “deadline” takes on a whole new meaning.

Review: music journalist Theda Krakow's chaotic life gets a little more complicated with the death of a fellow animal rights activist in Cries and Whiskers, the third mystery in this series by Clea Simon.

It’s becoming cold in Massachusetts and Theda Krakow needs to put her freelance journalist job on hold to help out her friends of an animal rights shelter. She usually writes about new club acts coming to the local pubs, but lately a new mysterious, dangerous drug showing up in the clubs has her seeing headlines. However Victoria, a close friend of Theda's, begs her to help find some savage and wild cats and kittens that had been caught, caged, and taken to a local shelter. Gail, an activist for the group, who would have been there to help, but she had been killed in a hit-and-run accident. Victoria is afraid the cats will starve or freeze to death in the cold weather. During Theda’s hunt for the animals she comes upon some questionable facts not only concerning the cats and Gail‘s death, but also the drugs. She receives a call telling her that someone has her beloved cat Marsetta and if she does not quit asking questions, it could mean the death of her cat, and possibly herself.

The book's title and overview suggest this may be yet another "cat cozy", but it isn't. Theda's personal life is anything but idyllic: her small apartment has intermittent heat and her boyfriend is on medical leave from the police department, on crutches, and (just like a man) feeling helpless and needy. Her job requires her being up and about late at night and often well into the early morning. Her environment adds a sense of realism and introduces conflicts into the story.

The plot of Cats and Whiskers is edgy and has many twists that keeps the reader turning the pages. Don't think of this as a cat mystery; rather, it is a mystery, and a very good one at that, that includes cats.

Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of for contributing her review of Cries and Whiskers and to Poisoned Pen Press for providing an ARC of the book for this review.

Review Copyright © 2007 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved.

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