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How to Wash a Cat by Rebecca M. Hale
Cover Artist: Mary Ann Lasher
Review by Lynne LeGrow
Berkley Mass Market Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780425232040
Date: 05 January 2010 List Price $6.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

"How to wash a cat" is surely a title created to lure cat lovers, and it worked for me, a diehard cat fancier. There are two cats in this novel, promising twice the enjoyment. A cozy mystery by a first time author, this book was certain to succeed and it placed on the New York Times bestseller list.

The nameless protagonist of the story is a female accountant and niece of Oscar, the owner of an antiques store in historic San Francisco. The setting holds promise and the historical references to the Gold Rush and the people of that era are an entertaining and interesting back story to the plot.

When our amateur sleuth inherits the antiques store, The Green Vase, upon the death of her uncle Oscar, she is almost at once plunged into intrigue when she discovers a trap door in the floor of the store. Although I think the author intended them to be charming and entertaining, her quirky and eccentric neighbors are more creepy than the myriad of insects she finds in the cellar. When they are not being creepy, they are vapid and annoying. Her uncle's death is not as straight forward as she was led to believe...but surely these characters will not contribute to finding out the mystery?

The two cats of the story, Rupert and Isabella, are unlike any cats I have ever known or loved. They willingly enter their cat carriers to go on noisy streetcar excursions, they daintily step into cat costumes and parade on cat walks, don't try to escape when the door is opened, visit strange places with little to no curiosity, and obey their owners every whim. They aren't cats, they are cat androids.

A first novel in the Cats and Curios mystery series by author Rebecca M. Hale, this cozy mystery holds little promise in this reader's opinion. (Although the presence of the novel on the New York Times' bestseller list would prove that I am in the minority.)

The plot could have been a good one if the author was not quite so fanciful in her descriptions. She used words that were surely inventions of her own imagination. (porcupined, woozing). The authors' obsession with describing sounds detracts from the writing's flow. I would not recommend this novel and definitely will not be reading the sequel Nine Lives Last Forever.

My grandmother once told me you should never wash a cat. They are naturally clean and they dislike water. However, I realize that sometimes it is necessary. It is a chore that few cat owners relish. That is pretty much how I felt about reading this novel.

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