Saturday, November 12, 2016

Have You Heard? - Cat on the Edge by Shirley Rousseau Murphy

Cat on the Edge,204,203,200_.jpgSeries: Joe Grey Mystery #1
Written By Shirley Rousseau Murphy, Narrated By Susan Boyce
Unabridged Audiobook, Listening Length: 7 hours and 11 minutes
Publisher:  Blackstone Audio, Inc.     Release Date: 03-06-13

Enchanting.  I didn't recall how charming the first book in this long running series was.  I've read the print book, but now I've read it on audio. Susan Boyce has brought characters to life using her voice and the words of Joe Grey and his human companion Clyde Damon, as well as Wilma Getz and her feline, the lovely Dulcie.  

As the book opens, a man named Samuel Beckwhite is killed when a cloaked figure hits his skull with a wrench, cracking his skull.  Joe Grey and Dulcie both watched Beckwhite get hit and heard the crack in the alley behind Jolly's restaurant yet could not identify him at all.  Not only did Joe Grey see the murder, the murderer saw Joe and Dulcie watching him and chased Joe all over town.  The murderer’s partner chased Dulcie.  Why would an "ordinary" man chase a common house cat as if he could relay the facts to the police or his human owner?  Joe runs away so Clyde and his animal housemates are not harmed.  Dulcie has a harder time leaving Wilma who lives alone.

Once Joe and Dulcie are safe, they discover that they have new abilities – that is, they can understand the human language, they can speak it, they can read it, and they can write it!  How did they all of a sudden become sentient?  They guess that the shock of watching a murder pushed them over the edge to this new state.

Both Joe and Dulcie were followed home.  When Wilma goes out she leaves Dulcie's dinner just outside the door so the house would not smell of fish.  Only the murderer has sprinkled it with poison, one that Dulcie knows will hurt or kill her.  With great sadness and a rumbling tummy, she turns to leave and runs smack into the bad man.  Another chase ensues with Dulcie vividly afraid for her life.  Finally Joe Grey meets up with her, and they escape again.  This time they know for certain that they can’t go home, since the bad men know where they live.  They take to the trees and rooftops.

Joe is worried about Clyde worrying about him.  He finally decides to call Clyde from a public phone.  Despite Joe’s numerous attempts at a speech to give Clyde, as he answers the phone, Joe Grey blurts out that it is Joe Grey, Clyde’s cat.  Clyde is sure this is all a joke.  He simply can’t accept it.  Clyde knows just who to visit who will understand his conundrum … Wilma.  Wilma relates that the two cats had been home for a short period because they’d pulled various foods out of the refrigerator (who does that?) and their wrappers were left on the floor.  An afghan was shaped into a bed that Dulcie and Joe Grey cuddled in for warmth.  While she was shaking her head in disbelief that the cats got food out on their own, she is even more surprised by Clyde’s story.

The man who killed Beckwhite had a Welsh partner.  When he nears Kate Osborne, her husband Jimmie’s partner at the car dealership in town where they work with Clyde Damon, he whispers a Welsh saying, and suddenly Kate begins to shrink.  Kate is now viewing the world from the level of shoes and skirts and swishing between legs.  How is it that she’s so small?  How is it that she has turned into a cat?  The Welshman knows where Kate lives and goes there to wait for her.  She makes it inside and begins to gather her belongings so she can leave town.  It is then that she finds the foreign bank books behind her own on the desk.  She takes them to the police the next day all while gathering together money and paperwork she’ll need.  She also discovers that her husband has been having an affair, so she simply must leave.  Kate knows the words to say to change back and forth into a cat, and she uses this to her advantage.

Kate and Clyde had been lovers and then friends for many years.  Kate goes to him to share all that has happened.  Clyde can’t believe it even though he’s just seen it with his own eyes.  Kate begins to put together many facts and clues and things begin to make sense.  She even finds Joe and Dulcie to talk things over with and come up with a plan to get back at the murderer and his Welsh partner.

Does all this sound too unbelievable?  It is not a cutesy, baby-talk-to-the-cats novel.  This is a serious mystery novel in which some of the characters happen to be cats that can read and speak.  It makes for some interesting sleuthing and clever ways to report in to the police without losing their anonymity.  The cats are not loved by all; they are hated by some and threatened by others.  They just want to continue living their lives in Molena Point with the many residents we come to know over the upcoming books. And want to help their friends whenever possible.  

This and the upcoming novels are all captivating stories of friends and neighbors and the lives they live side by side and as a town.  They are a true example of community.


Reine said...

I love these books! A friend gave me the first one year for Christmas and has followed through on different special occasions, since I loved the first so much. The voices are terrific and the stories are all as you say about the first, serious mystery novels.

Sandie Herron said...

Thank you for your kind words. I have love the Joe Grey and Dulcie books from the first. Since Mrs. Murphy follows the same cats with many of the same residents, I am always happy to read and learn about what excitement has caught Kit's eye this time!