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BOOK REVIEW: PROBABLE CLAWS
BY CLEA SIMON

We hope you enjoy this book review by Caryn St. Clair.



Clea Simon's series with protagonist Theda Krakow is different from almost all other mystery series that include cats because Simon's cats are just that. Cats. They don't talk or solve mysteries. Theda's cat Musetta is a beloved pet companion to be sure, and the affection Theda has for her cat is quite evident throughout the books in this series. But rather than make the cats “action” characters in her books, Simon has instead used Theda's love for Musetta and her involvement with her friend's cat shelter to draw attention to various issues affecting cats in this country. Central to the plot of Probable Claws is the much debated issue of no kill shelters versus the reality of cat overpopulation. A second current hot topic covered in Probable Claws is the reorganization of newspapers going on across the country. Simon does a good job of mixing the politics of the newspaper business with the politics of the overpopulation of animals versus no kill shelters, making it a story that could happen in Seattle or St. Louis as easily as Boston. These are both real issues in America today that affect many people.

When Violet believes the cats in her shelter are sick from contaminated food, Theda volunteers to help her track down who donated the contaminated bag. When she suspects the bag may have come from the city animal shelter, Theda is stunned. Not only is the director a friend and her own cat's vet, but the question that is pops into Theda's mind is, why would the shelter be giving away food? In the meantime, the new owners of the newspaper Theda freelances a music column for, are making changes. The new owner needs more from her than just music. So without thinking of where it might lead, Theda dangles the cat poisoning as a possible feature story. Things take an ugly turn however, when Theda stops by the city shelter to pick her cat up after a teeth cleaning. Instead of having a chance to talk to the vet about the contaminated food, she finds her friend lying on the floor of her office dying from stab wounds. Now she's the prime suspect.

This is the fourth book in the series. There are some ongoing threads from book to book, including various issues at Violet's Cat Shelter and Theda's relationship with former cop turned jazz club owner Bill. However, I think anyone interested in the social issues surrounding cats or mysteries which include cats, would have no trouble picking up enough of the back story to enjoy Probable Claws, even if the reader has read none of the previous books. While a reader would not necessarily need to love cats to enjoy this series, I'd think readers would need to at least look fondly on them. They may not talk or solve crimes, but cats, especially Musetta, are what this excellent series is all about.

REVIEWED BY CARYN ST. CLAIR

DO NOT REPRINT WITHOUT PERMISSION OF THE REVIEWER, CARYN ST. CLAIR


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