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Cat to the Dogs

Cover of Cat to the Dogs

Cat to the Dogs

Joe Grey Series, Book 5
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A recent earthquake was only the beginning of the big trouble that plagues Molena Point, California. Joe Grey may be merely a cat, but he's already solved more murders than your average human detective, and he knows the "accident" on Hellhag Hill was anything but. Unfortunately Joe's somewhat erratic, if lovable, owner Clyde thinks cats should keep their paws out of police work, and locks Joe and his feline lady friend Dulcie out of the house when Officer Max Harper pays a social call.

But Joe can be a very stubborn tomcat when he sets his mind to it. And he's not about to give up the hunt. A killer needs to be apprehended, and Joe Grey's just the cat for the job -- especially since the humans who should be on the case don't seem to have a clue.

A recent earthquake was only the beginning of the big trouble that plagues Molena Point, California. Joe Grey may be merely a cat, but he's already solved more murders than your average human detective, and he knows the "accident" on Hellhag Hill was anything but. Unfortunately Joe's somewhat erratic, if lovable, owner Clyde thinks cats should keep their paws out of police work, and locks Joe and his feline lady friend Dulcie out of the house when Officer Max Harper pays a social call.

But Joe can be a very stubborn tomcat when he sets his mind to it. And he's not about to give up the hunt. A killer needs to be apprehended, and Joe Grey's just the cat for the job -- especially since the humans who should be on the case don't seem to have a clue.

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Excerpts-
  • Chapter One

    Fog lay so thick in Hellhag Canyon that Joe Grey couldn't see his paws, could barely see the dead wood rat he carried dangling from his sharp teeth. Moving steeply down the wall of the ravine, the tomcat was aware of a boulder or willow scrub only when his whiskers touched something foreign, sending an electrifying jolt through his sleek gray body. The predawn fog was so dense that a human would have barged straight into those obstacles--one more example, Joe Grey thought smugly, of feline senses far keener than human, of the superiority of cat over man.

    The fog-shrouded canyon was silent, too, save for the muted hushing of the sea farther down and the occasional whisper from high above of wet tires along the twisting two-lane, where some early-morning driver crept blindly. Joe had no idea why humans drove in this stuff; swift cars and fog were bad news. As he searched for a soft bit of ground on which to enjoy his breakfast, another car approached, moving way too fast toward the wickeddouble curve, sending a jolt of alarm stabbing through Joe.

    The scream of tires filled the canyon.

    The skidding car hit the cliff so hard, Joe felt the earth shake. He dropped the wood rat and leaped clear as the car rolled thundering over the edge, its lights exploding against the fog, its bulk falling straight at him, as big as a hunk of the cliff, a mass of hurtling metal that sent him streaking up the canyon wall. It hurtled past, dropping into the ravine exactly where he'd been crouching.

    The car lay upside down beneath a dozen young oak trees broken off and fallen across its spinning wheels. The roof and those tons of metal had likely flattened his wood rat into a bloody pancake--so much for his nice warm breakfast.

    Where the careening car had disturbed the fog, and the rising wind swirled the mist, he could make out the gigantic form easing deeper into the detritus of the canyon, the car's metal parts groaning like a dying beast, its death-stink not of escaping body fluids, but the reek of leaking gasoline.

    This baby's going to explode, he thought as he prepared to run. Going to blow sky-high, roast me among these boulders like a rabbit in a stone oven.

    But when, after a long wait, no explosion occurred, when the vehicle continued only to creak and moan, he crept warily down the cliff again to have a look.

    Hunched beneath the wreck's vast, dark body--its ticking, grease-stinking, hot-breathed body--he looked up at the huge black wheels spinning above him and listened to the bits of glass raining down from the broken windows that were half-hidden among the dry ferns, listened to the big metal carcass settle into its last sleep. He could hear, from within, no human utterance. No groan, no scream of pain or of terror, only the voice of the sea pounding against the cliffs to an accident victim.

    Was no one alive in there? He studied the overturned car, listening for a desperate and anguished cry--and wondering what he was going to do about it. Wondering how a poor simple tomcat was going to render any kind of useful assistance.

    He had been hunting Hellhag Canyon since midnight, first at the shore, dodging the rolling breakers, and then, when the fog thickened, moving on up the ravine. He had tracked the wood rat blindly, following only the sound of its scrabbling, had struck and killed it before the creature was ever aware of him. But all night he'd been edgy, too, still nervous from the quakes of the last week; the first instant the skidding car hit the hill and shook the earth he'd shivered as if another jolt were rocking the cliffs, rattling the central California coast.

    The original temblor, two days earlier, at 5.2 on the Richter scale, had sent the more...

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 3, 2000
    Recommended only for dedicated cat lovers, this lackluster tale is the latest outing (after Cat in the Dark) featuring the feline Sherlock Holmes named Joe Grey and his companion, Dulcie. As usual, the cats not only outsmart most humans, but also make telephone calls, order take-out and speak perfect English, although only to each other and a few favored people. Hunting in Hellhag Canyon, Joe witnesses a fatal car accident that appears to be murder. While local police search for the victim's identity, Dulcie is keeping an eye on neighbor Lucinda Greenlaw's house. Just widowed, Lucinda, who's waiting for the funeral and a possible inheritance, has been surrounded by her husband's unsavory relatives. Joe and Dulcie suspect that Shamas Greenlaw's death while boating was no accident, especially when his black market business dealings come to light. Now it remains for the feline duo to lead human investigators to connect the suspicious car accident to some of the Greenlaw clan and to prove that the two deaths are related. Murphy's fifth novel moves at a snail's pace and the humans involved, such as Joe's housemate, Clyde, are mere window dressing. Cat fans may fancy the story in any case, but others won't enjoy the plot digressions into the history and mythology of felines.

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Cat to the Dogs
Cat to the Dogs
Joe Grey Series, Book 5
Shirley Rousseau Murphy
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