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Cat in the Dark

Cover of Cat in the Dark

Cat in the Dark

Joe Grey Series, Book 4
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"Of course I worry.
What if the cops witness a cat opening a skylight and
masterminding a robbery?
The tabloids will love it."

There's a new pair of thieves in MolenaPoint, California, a renegade yellow-eyedtomcat with a cold disdain for the law,and a scruffy human partner who isno better. The two, clever and silentat their work, are bad news indeedto crime-solving cats Joe Grey andDulcie. But when Joe learns the pair'sconnection to a good friend, and then an innocent couple turns up dead in the library garden, Joe and Dulcie must engage in some fancy paw work to unmask the deceptions and route the real killer -- before his brazen criminal crime spree careens madly toward them.

"Of course I worry.
What if the cops witness a cat opening a skylight and
masterminding a robbery?
The tabloids will love it."

There's a new pair of thieves in MolenaPoint, California, a renegade yellow-eyedtomcat with a cold disdain for the law,and a scruffy human partner who isno better. The two, clever and silentat their work, are bad news indeedto crime-solving cats Joe Grey andDulcie. But when Joe learns the pair'sconnection to a good friend, and then an innocent couple turns up dead in the library garden, Joe and Dulcie must engage in some fancy paw work to unmask the deceptions and route the real killer -- before his brazen criminal crime spree careens madly toward them.

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Excerpts-
  • Chapter One

    The cat crouched in darkness beneath the library desk, her tabby stripes mingled with the shadows, her green eyes flashing light, her tail switching impatiently as she watched the last patrons linger around the circulation counter. Did humans have to dawdle, wasting their time and hers? V/hat was it about closing hour that made people so incredibly slow?

    Above her the library windows were black, and out in the night the oaks' ancient branches twisted against the glass, the moon's rising light reflecting along their limbs and picking out the rooftops beyond. The time was nine-fifteen. Time to turn out the lights. Time to leave these hallowed rooms to her. Would people never leave? She was so irritated she almost shouted at them to get lost, that this was her turf now.

    Beyond the table and chair legs, out past the open door, the library's front garden glowed waxen in the moonlight, the spider lilies as ghostly pale as the white reaching fingers of a dead man. Three women moved out into the garden along the stone path, beneath the oak trees' dark shelter, heading toward the street; behind them, Mavity Flowers hurried out toting her heavy book bag, her white maid's uniform as bright as moonstruck snow, hergray, wiry hair ruffled by the sea wind. Her white polyester skirt was deeply wrinkled in the rear from sitting for nearly an hour delving through the romance novels, choosing half a dozen unlikely dreams in which to lose herself. Dulcie imagined Mavity hastening home to her tiny cottage, making herself a cup of tea, getting comfy, maybe slipping into her bathrobe and putting her feet up for an evening's read--for a few hours' escape and pleasure after scrubbing and vacuuming all day in other people's houses.

    Mavity was a dear friend of Dulcie's housemate; she and Wilma had known each other since elementary school, more than fifty years. Wilma was the tall one, strong and self-sufficient, while Mavity was such a small person, so wrinkled and frail-looking that people treated her as if she should be watched over--even if she did work as hard as a woman half her age. Mavity wasn't a cat lover, but she and Dulcie were friends. She always stroked Dulcie and talked to her when she stopped by Wilma's; Mavity told Dulcie she was beautiful, that her chocolate-dark stripes were as lovely as mink, that Dulcie was a very special cat.

    But the little lady had no idea how special. The truth would have terrified her. The notion that Dulcie had read (and found tedious) most of the stories that she, herself, was toting home tonight, would have shaken Mavity Flowers right down to her scruffy white oxfords.

    Through the open front door, Dulcie watched Mavity hurry to the corner and turn beneath the yellow glow of the streetlamp to disappear down the dark side street into a tunnel of blackness beneath a double row of densely massed eucalyptus trees. But within the library, seven patrons still lingered.

    And from the media room at the back, four more dawdlers appeared, their feet scuffing along inches from Dulcie's nose-- silk-clad ankles in stilted high heels, a boy's bony bare feet in leather sandals, a child's little white shoes and lace-ruffled white socks following Mama's worn loafers. And all of them as slow as cockroaches in molasses, stopping to examine the shelved booksand flip through the racked magazines. Dulcie, hunching against the carpet, sighed and closed her eyes. Dawdling was a cat's prerogative, humans didn't have the talent. Only a cat could perform that slow, malingering dance, the half-in-half-out-the-door routine, with the required insolence and grace.

    She was not often so rude in her assessment of human frailties. During the daytime hours, she was a...

About the Author-
  • Shirley Rousseau Murphy writes the popular Joe Grey mystery series and is a noted children's book author who has received five Dixie Council of Authors and Journalists Awards. She lives in Carmel, a village which inspires the charm for Molena Point

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    January 4, 1999
    Modern-day descendants of ancient Celtic talking cats, Joe Grey and Dulcie make their hardback debut in this cat-chy tale (after three paperback adventures: Cat Raise the Dead, etc.). When the feline duo witnesses a series of burglaries in their California seaside village, they are intrigued. Finding the human culprit and his accomplice, an alluringly evil black cat named Azrael, who also talks, proves to be easy. After Joe Grey and Dulcie accuse him of the crimes, Azrael tells them the thefts are nothing, considering that soon three people will be murdered. Joe Grey and Dulcie know that a number of newcomers have recently moved to the area, including a cat-hating librarian, a shifty financial adviser, a vengeful Georgia couple and an austere handywoman. All of them are acting oddly--even for humans: the librarian is trying to oust Dulcie from her position as official library cat; the financial adviser is wining and dining a local golddigger; the Georgians clandestinely photocopy their local aunt's financial portfolio; and the handywoman leads a hidden life. When the Georgia couple's bodies are found in the library's garden and the adviser is also murdered, the intrepid felines are on the case, much to the dismay of Joe's human keeper, contractor and car mechanic Clyde. As the cats surreptitiously survey the police investigation, they realize Azrael's missing human companion holds the key to the deaths. Rousseau writes a fast-paced tale, and she has a way with her cat scenes, but her mystery claws aren't as sharp as those of Rita Mae Brown or Lillian Jackson Braun (reviewed above).

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Cat in the Dark
Cat in the Dark
Joe Grey Series, Book 4
Shirley Rousseau Murphy
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