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Cries and Whiskers: A Theda Krakow Mystery by Clea Simon
Review by Gayle Surrette
Poisoned Pen Press Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9781590584644
Date: 15 December 2007 List Price $24.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Cries and Whiskers is the third book featuring Theda Krakow, a freelance writer who does a weekly column called Clubland, about the live music scene in Cambridge. Theda's got her hands full: her boyfriend Bill is laid up with a bad knee after two surgeries; Musetta, her cat, doesn't like being left alone so much; Violet is desperate to find the feral cats Gail Womynfriend had set traps for before they freeze in the snowy sleet hitting Boston; Tim, her editor, pulls her feature and wants a big spread on a new band, Swann's Way, that no one has ever heard play; and her friend Tess is acting secretive and defensive. But then life is never just one thing at a time. So, what will be the straw that causes them all to tumble down?

Theda has many friends and acquaintances as well as her professional contacts, some of whom fit into the first two categories. She loves music and enjoys her column writing about the bands and clubs in the area. She feels comfortable in the clubs, sort of an adjunct of her living space, since many of her friends were met while listening to music in the clubs. In this book, Simon causes Theda to questions all the assumptions she's made in her life and career. Who can she believe? Who can she trust? And, even more important -- can she trust her own judgment?

Genre writing is often said to be about plot at the expense of character. All of us readers know that there are some really fantastic writers in the various genres. Personally, while I love a rollicking good adventure or mystery tale that is well told; I love it even more when I care about the characters having this adventure. Theda is a strong woman, who has come to adulthood with a lot of options open to her. She's freelance and that means running your own business of one. She's a reporter which implies a certain propensity to notice things. As the various threads of this story come together, Theda can see or sense that there's connections between the events. However, to fully discover what is going on she must challenge her own assumptions about her life, her friends, and her view of the club scene. It's this challenge to her core that raises this book above the level of just telling a good story well.

For those who've been following the series, the Theda at the end of this book is not quite the same as she was. Her world view has been shaken but she'll go on, because she knows how to keep going forward. And for those of you who are just coming new to the series don't be afraid to pick up with this book, Simons manages to give you the back story with out slowing down the pace. Music is such a part of this series that it's almost like the book has a sound track but the music is the reader's choice.


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