EBook (Available in paperback)
Poisoned Pen Press
Animal psychic, Pru Marlowe, hears there has been a cat shooting and she’s furious. She can’t stand the idea of animal brutality and she plans to make sure this situation is dealt with and fast. However, when she arrives on the scene, she discovers that the cat is the one who is accused of doing the shooting using an antique gun. Although relieved that no cat has been shot, she’s not buying that the cat is guilty either.
She tries to communicate with the beautiful Persian, but she has no luck. The cat is keeping her info to herself. She’s obviously traumatized since the victim was her beloved human. Pru turns to the neighborhood pets, and her own tabby Wallis, for some assistance. They try to help, but Pru is getting mixed signals from everyone and she discovers that victim had quite a few enemies that she never expected to find.
Pru Marlowe is the new Doctor Doolittle of the literary world. She knows exactly what these animals are thinking and what they need. I just want to stress that this is not a supernatural book. The pets do not talk aloud. Pru has a psychic ability, but it’s not a paranormal book. It’s a cozy mystery.
Pru is a strong character who fights for what she knows to be right. She doesn’t sit back and hope that someone saves the day. She does her own saving, even though her latest boyfriend is a cop. She doesn’t depend on him or anyone else, for that matter. Well, she does depend on her tabby, Wallis. Their scenes make me laugh. They are like an old married couple. Their concern and love for each other comes through each page loud and clear.
The story is fast-paced with a mystery that will lead you in several different directions before we finally get our answers. Any book that features a kitty as the main character (along with a lovely cover shot) gets my vote.
I loved Clea’s Theda Krakow series, but I’m loving this series even more. I can’t wait for book #3 to come out. Of course, it also gets my Socrates’ Great Book Alert.
FTC Disclosure: NetGalley provided me with a copy of this book to review. This did not influence my thoughts and opinions in any way. All opinions expressed are my own.
For Reading Challenges:
2012 E-Book Challenge
Merely Mystery Reading Challenge
Cruisin' thru the Cozies Reading Challenge
What An Animal Reading Challenge
And now...an interview with the author of the book...Clea Simon
Please join me in welcoming author, Clea Simon, to Socrates’ Book Review Blog. I’ve had the honor of interviewing her for my blog before and it’s always a pleasure to have her visit with us.
Thank you, Yvonne, for hosting me! I always appreciate the chance to meet readers. After all, I’m one, too!
To begin, what’s new with your writing career?
Wow, you have caught me in a busy time! I am celebrating the release of two new mysteries right now: “Cats Can’t Shoot,” the second Pru Marlowe pet noir, which just received a starred review from Booklist (can you tell I’m thrilled?). And “Grey Expectations,” the fourth Dulcie Schwartz feline mystery. “Grey Expectations” did not get a star, although Publishers Weekly called it “enchanting” and my husband says its his favorite of all my books. At any rate, they’re both very different – Pru is tough and her tabby sidekick is tougher. Dulcie is a bookworm, like me. So that’s a lot to celebrate!
You write a few different series with different characters, do you have a favorite?
Honestly? It’s whoever I am writing at the moment. I just finished drafting the fifth Dulcie book, to be called “True Grey,” and I just love her. She’s smart – but booksmart – and she’s got a good heart. When I finished that, I didn’t want to go back to Pru. Pru’s such a different sort. But now I’m deep into the third Pru, which I think – not sure – will be called “Parrots Prove Deadly,” and I am having such fun with Pru! I guess, when I’m writing Dulcie, I love her sweetness and bookishness and think of Pru as a bit of a hard case. When I’m writing Pru, I love her wit and verve and think of Dulcie as a milksop.
Are your characters (humans or pets) influenced by any real life people (or pets)?
My cats are! Seriously, I think they’re all manifestations of my current kitty, Musetta, at this point – except for Mr Grey, who is the spirit of my own late, great grey longhair, Cyrus the Great. But the human characters at this point have taken on their own lives. I know they are part of me. That’s how I figure out what they’d do in different situations. At this point, though, they feel more like really good friends and I enjoy spending time with them.
Is it difficult writing animal characters vs. human characters?
Not difficult, but different. I never want my animals to become too human. I try to always keep in mind how animals think. In general, what motivates animals is more concrete – food, fear, lust – and they are less imaginative than humans (at least, I think they are). In fact, Wallis looks down on Pru for not seeing the obvious. And Esmé, Dulcie’s kitten, can’t understand why Dulcie doesn’t understand her. With the cats, I kind of go on my own experience, and when I’m writing other animals (dogs, ferrets, and now an African grey parrot), I research them and visit with animals and those who work with them to figure out how they think.
As a child, did you read much? What types of books did you read?
Yes, like Dulcie I was a total bookworm. I still re-read some of my favorites. “The Wind and the Willows” and the entire Chronicles of Narnia series were – and still are – favorites. And they all have important animal characters, which says something. I also was lucky enough to have a lot of Maurice Sendak books around. My mother was an artist and I think she liked his draughtsmanship. I think these books influenced my imagination.
If you could recommend one book or author to our readers, what would it be?
Wow, that’s hard. How about I cheat a little?
If you like in-depth history, really learning how people probably thought, I’d recommend Hilary Mantel, specifically her “A Place of Greater Safety” about the French Revolution.
If you love fantasy, go for the gold standard: J.R.R. Tolkein’s “The Lord of the Rings.” I still re-read those books regularly! Oh, and Naomi Novik’s Temeraire books.
I recently read Geoff Dyer’s “Jeff in Venice/Death in Varanasi,” and I loved that. It really made an impression on me. So, hmm... if you think you’d like a sort-of-experimental two-part book about love and loss and what our lives may be about, I’d say, try that!
And if you love mysteries, well, my personal favorites are Donna Leon, Colin Cotterill, Tana French, and Henning Mankell.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Yes: do it. Write regularly. Make yourself write. And then re-read what you’ve written. Just writing is fun and good for the soul, but the way you get better is by reading what you’ve written. Often in the first draft, what you think you wrote – what you wanted to get on the paper – isn’t there. Get good readers, readers you trust, who will give you honest opinions. Keep writing and re-writing, and don’t give up.
Do you belong to a critique group and do you think they are helpful?
I do not. I have heard of critique groups that were useful, especially for beginning writers. The problem is that it is hard to critique well. Every story can be written in a different way by a different person, and what you want is criticism about your writing – not someone saying, “well, I’d make the hero into a heroine and change her hairstyle.” If you can find a group that won’t do that. That will simply say, “This part seems wordy” or “I don’t know why, but I’m not feeling it on this page,” and send you back to work on it, then that’s great! I really trust a few longtime readers – and my editors, of course!
Can you give us a preview of upcoming books to look for?
Well, in “Cats Can’t Shoot,” Pru is called to the scene of a “cat shooting.” At first she’s horrified – has someone shot a cat? When she gets there, she realizes that in fact the cat, a white Persian, is accused of accidentally setting off the rare antique dueling pistol that has killed her owner....
In “Grey Expectations,” Dulcie is delving into a rare books collection while working on her thesis when one of the most prized pieces, the Dunster Codex, goes missing. Her friend Trista seems to have some ideas about who might have taken it, only then Trista disappears, and the only clues seem to implicate Dulcie in the theft, and worse...
Any booksignings coming up?
Yes, indeed! I’m not getting to any of the big conferences this year, but I have a few signings in New England this spring. The first is April 19 at Harvard Book Store. In fact, if people can’t make it but they want a signed, personalized book, they can call the store and order one. I’ll sign it and the store will ship it. I’d also invite people to visit my website at http://www.cleasimon.com, because I’m always adding more.
Thank you for taking the time visit with us, Clea!
Thank you! Happy reading.