Cat Fear No Evil: A Joe Grey Mystery (Murphy, Shirley Rousseau)
by Shirley Rousseau Murphy
Review by Paul Haggerty
HarperCollins Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 0066209498
Date: 02 March, 2004 List Price $24.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Cat Fear No Evil is the ninth book in the Joe Grey series by Shirley Rousseau Murphy. Joe Grey, if you're new to the series, is a tough tomcat of unusual origins. Way back in book one, Cat on the Edge, an event triggered a change in Joe's little kitty mind, opening up human level intelligence and speech. Unfortunately, he still possesses his feline level arrogance, sense of superiority, and desire to stick his nose where a cat's nose should never be... in Joe's case, police investigations. In this business, Joe's joined by two other cats with the same affliction, his girlfriend Dulcie, and the formerly stray kitten (now as big as Dulcie), Kit.
Cat Fear No Evil features the return of a large number of characters from previous Joe Grey stories. Azrael, the big black tomcat who serves as Joe Grey's nemesis, Ryan Flannery, former love interest to Joe's human Clyde Damen, Dillon Thurwell, a young teenager just at an age to really get herself in trouble, and Lucinda and Pedric Greenlaw, Kit's human family who have been on a travel holiday for a very long time. With this many old timers things can get a little confusing, and it's made even more so by the inclusion of a side plot concerning the cat's on again/off again quest to learn of a secret underground realm where the race of intelligent cats survives to this day.
The book starts off with the revelation that a series of baffling thefts are being carried out. Thefts that could only be carried out by a thief that can walk through walls and turn off the most elaborate security systems. Only one item is ever stolen no matter what might be standing right next to it. Making the matter personal, Clyde's 1927 vintage Packard roadster joins the list of items which apparently walked away. Having dealt with just such a villain before, Joe Grey has a pretty good suspicion as to who might be behind the thefts, a suspicion given weight when Azrael, the self styled feline Angel of Death, appears on the rooftops of Molena Point, California. But the thefts are just the beginning. Charlie Harper (nee Getz), another of Clyde's old girlfriends and now wife of his best friend, the Molena Point Police Chief, is having a solo exhibition of her artwork. It's a big fancy to-do and everything goes just fine, until one of the waiters drops dead with the imprint of a brick in his head. Kate Osborn, sometimes shapeshifter and interior designer has come into an inheritance of old, though apparently cheap, jewelry. But if it's so worthless, why are people trying to steal it?
Cat Fear No Evil is one of the more complicated mysteries in the series, though figuring out who the bad guys are isn't that hard. As in most series of this size, when a new person is introduced, you know pretty much immediately that they're involved some how. But even knowing who done it, why and how they done it still need to be established. Then there are the interpersonal dynamics woven around a dozen characters, furry or otherwise. Secrets of the past surface and must be either faced or reburied. It all adds up to a melting pot of story lines that continually cross, merge, and diverge again. Even at the end there are still threads left waving; fodder, of course, for more adventures for Joe Grey to stick his whiskers into.