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Cat Telling Tales: A Joe Grey Mystery by Shirley Rousseau Murphy
Review by Paul Haggerty
William Morrow Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780061806926
Date: 22 November 2011 List Price $19.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

The global economic downturn is also making itself known in Molena Point, California. People are losing their jobs and their homes. Some are forced to move away, others cling to the edges of society, trying desperately to hold on to what little they have left. In addition to the human victims, cats and dogs suffer as well, and large numbers of cats are being abandoned by their human families, left to struggle and die in a harsh environment they were never prepared for. And where there are losers in any economic system, there are bound to be winners as well. A depressed housing market is a great place to shop for the future, especially if you're not too terribly concern with the letter of the law. With misery and profit going hand in hand, murder can't be far behind.

More by Shirley Rousseau Murphy:
Joe Grey Mysteries:
* Cat Seeing Double
* Cat Fear No Evil
* Cat Pay the Devil
* Cat Deck the Halls
* Cat Playing Cupid
* Cat Striking Back
* Cat Coming Home
* Cat Telling Tales

Cat Telling Tales take place in February, just two months after Cat Coming Home. The newly arrived talking cat Misto is safely ensconced in his own comfortable home. The young romantically inclined tortoiseshell, Kit, loves to listen to his myths and legends of the olden days, as well as the stories of his kittenhood in Molena Point, and raising a family in Oregon. Joe's tabby lady cat, Dulcie is deeply involved with her poetry. And Joe Grey himself is having vivid dreams of a past, and he wants nothing to do with them. As far as he's concerned, the past should stay in the past and leave people alone, especially him.

But there's far more going on in town. Things that might seem unconnected at first, but which will take Joe Grey and his friends to ferret out the truth and give law enforcement the leads they need. A shack burns down just south of Police Chief Max Harper's ranch, leaving an old women dead, and her grandson, Billy, with no one but two hateful aunts who want nothing to do with him. Her next door neighbor was evicted from her shack after losing her job, and now is force to live in her car, continually moving around town, while still trying to take care of her own two cats, and the cats of one her friends, who has suddenly gone missing. Then there's a real estate agent that's left town under suspicious circumstances, and another that's supposedly on vacation, but nobody really knows where. Then an old college acquaintance of Ryan's, one of Joe Grey's human house mates, writes to inform Ryan that her husband's left her and her two daughters, and that they're coming to town to stay ... with Ryan. And something tells Joe that the fact that said husband is one of the real estate agents, and she just also happens to be one of Billy's aunts can't be purely a coincidence.

As with all the Joe Grey stories, the plot line mostly revolves around the humans thinking they have everything under control while the cats run around behind the scenes actually solving the mysteries, and tipping off the police, who have wisely decided not to try and find out who their anonymous sources really are. Still with forensic techniques improving all the time, and electronics becoming more and more complex, it's becoming significantly more difficult for a cat to do his job without leaving behind evidence he would prefer the police not add to the case file.

One of the joys of a Joe Grey novel is meeting up with old friends and meeting new ones. But nothing really remains static. Old characters have moved away, new characters have joined, and in some cases gotten married, including Joe's confirmed bachelor housemate, Clyde. And while Joe's world may stay in a state of constant flux, one thing will always remain the same. The bad guys will come to town and get their butts handed to them, judicially speaking, when they dare challenge the deductive powers of Joe Grey and company.

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