Probable Claws: A Theda Krakow Mystery
by Clea Simon
Review by Gayle Surrette
Poisoned Pen Press Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781590585641
Date: 10 April 2009 List Price $24.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Violet calls to warn Theda that someone is poisoning cats and that the shelter cats are all ill. Theda rushes over to find that while she's been nursing her wounds over her argument with Bill, she's somehow lost touch with Violet, the music scene (that's the core of her writing), as well as with Bill. She offers her help to Violet to learn the source of the donated poisoned food. Before long, she's finds her reputation as a writer is being questioned, she's accused of murder, and she and Bill have some serious talking to do.
The Theda Krakow mysteries just keep getting better and better. Theda is finding that Bill's jazz club is finding its place in the music scene and she's feeling a bit jealous since it seems like its been so easy for him. She's worked hard to gain her column and to make the connections among the club, players, and musicians in the Boston music scene, and she's feeling left out. She also feels something is going on and she can't quite put her finger on it.
Once again, Theda has to put her investigative journalist abilities to the test; this time to keep herself out of jail, and the best way to do that is to find the real killer. However, it's hard to find your center when your relationships are seeming to slip through your fingers, and it's hard to tell a brush off from a real need to put things off until later.
Over the series, I've come to care for these characters and enjoy the interactions between them. Simon gives the reader a true feeling of being a part of a community in these books. The characters are solidly build and have roots, interrelationships, fears, joys, sorrows, and history. They're the people you'd like to spend time with if you happened to live in Theda's world.
The plots are always plausible within the context of the narrative and while I sometimes rage at Theda's decisions and actions, they nonetheless logically follow from her character and background. If you haven't tried any of the previous books, you could just jump in with this one as they can stand alone. If you enjoy Boston and would like to, for the duration of a book, feel like you're in the city, give these stories a try.
While cats are a strong element in the stories, they don't talk and they don't solve crimes. Theda owns or is owned by a lovely cat. Her best friend runs a shelter, and most of her friends have feline companions. Many times the plots have a element that deal with pets, animal shelters, and responsible ownership and Probable Claws is no exception. These are good mysteries that will also touch your heart.