Joe Grey would tell you, "Why not? We cats are famous for our mysterious ways-and a speaking cat, like me, is the greatest mystery of all."
Joe Grey's power of human speech, combined with his mastery of stealthy concealment and his sharp feline senses, makes him the perfect sleuth. What cop, sitting at his desk going over a murder file or an FBI report, would imagine that the cat who has wandered into the station and is asleep on his bookshelf is, in fact, reading over his shoulder?
How could the detective guess that this friendly, visiting feline is conducting his own criminal investigation? That the gray tomcat with the sleepy yawn is there to examine whatever electronic information he can access and, perhaps most important, to listen in on the officer's phone calls? How would the cop know that this cat has already breached the crime scene, collecting elusive scents and studying evidence that the officer, by his very human limitations, has been forced to overlook?
How would he know that the gray tomcat has spied on the killer, too, in ways no cop can legally pursue? How would he know that the department's valued snitch, who supplies them with frequent, useful phone tips, sits in his bookshelf washing his sleek gray fur? Joe Grey and his two feline pals, with their talents of speech and their keen, human/cat minds, will never be ID's by the law, no cop would think to question their sly deceit.
Growing up in San Francisco's alleys, an orphaned kitten dodging giant wharf rats and fighting full-grown strays for a few bites of garbage, Joe Grey is no sweet lap kitty-though now that he has a human housemate, he makes sure he's served gourmet fare; and he takes most of the bed at night, his pushy little cat feet relegating Clyde to the drafty edge.
But if this tomcat has attitude, so does his tabby lady. Dulcie's no shy little furball, even if she did come from a "wanted" litter and a good home. Dulcie's own housemate, a gun-packing parole officer in her younger days, was never burdened with undue sentiment when it came to the criminal element, and Dulcie learned from her.
Cat Striking Back, Joe Grey and Dulcie and Kit not only locate the body and assist the Molena Point cops in tracking the killer, but in a sudden frenzy of retribution they leave their bloody brand on that sorry human, in an explosion of rage that deeply satisfies the feline crew. They wonder, later, if he will face his just rewards puzzled by the strangeness of certain cats, if he will go to his grave haunted by questions to which he has no answers? And the three turn smugly away to their next adventure, with sly smiles on their little cat faces.
Who or what is the strangest sleuth you've ever encountered?
Editor's Note: Shirley Rousseau Murphy is the creator of the Joe Grey series and a winner of the "World's Best Cat Litterary Award".
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