Cattery Row by Clea Simon
Poisoned Pen Press; 2006
Mystery; 227 pgs
Rating: (Very Good)
First Sentence: They came in the night, quiet and professional.
Reason for Reading: A visit with Theda and her playful cat Musetta was very much in order after I finished Beth Helm's Dervishes earlier in the week (review to come). With the Series Challenge underway and Clea Simon's latest mystery, Cries and Whiskers, having just been released, Cattery Row was dancing on my shelf, hoping I'd pick it next to read. How could I refuse?
Comments: Clea Simon outdoes herself in writing the second novel in her Theda Krakow mystery series. Theda is a freelance reporter who is down on her luck, and the bills are piling up. After a confrontation with the Mail’s feature editor, she realizes she stuck her foot in her mouth big time, possibly severing her main source for business.
When offered an assignment to do a feature on four prominent businesswomen in the community, Theda agrees. Pickings have been slim and she is feeling desperate, but the prospect of interviewing two friends for the story helps win her over. She is most looking forward to reconnecting with her old friend Cool who she lost touch when the friend’s music career took off making her quite the success. Cool dropped out of sight and out of the public eye recently, and Theda is curious to know why. Also, the reporter’s assignment includes a piece on her friend Rose Blossom who owns her own cattery, breeding beautiful Angora cats. Rose was recently appointed a show judge and Theda looks forward to seeing her in action.
A string of pedigree cat thefts, threatening phone calls, and the murder of a friend are enough to set Theda on the trail of a killer. She will stop at nothing to get to the bottom of the matter. As if matters are not complicated enough for the reporter, her ex-boyfriend is back in town and her current relationship is on the rocks. Theda is not sure what she wants, struggling with her own desire to be independent and not to fall into the old traps.
Clea Simon excels in creating strong and intelligent female characters, each very much their own person. Theda’s dedication to her work and her friends shines through, as does her desire to stay true to herself. Violet with her purple hair continues to be one of my favorite characters. Both she and Bunny are the type of friends I would want by my side.
And while humorous at times, the novel touches upon very serious issues involving the breeding and care of cats. While there are many respectable and loving cat breeders, there is also the ugly side, including unlicensed breeders and cat mills that care very little for the animals themselves and are more interested in turning a profit. Cattery Row is a delightful story, not only for it’s great cast of characters, but also the well thought out mystery, which is entertaining and stimulating.
Favorite Part: Several times while reading Clea Simon’s novel, I wished I had the power to step inside the pages of the book to be a physical part of Theda’s world, whether it be seeing Violet and her band perform live on stage or to at the very least attend that Halloween Party (why can’t there be something like that near where I live?).
Miscellaneous: Christmas is definitely in the air! If only I could motivate myself to wrap some of those presents that need to get out in the mail by the end of the week.