Shirley Rousseau Murphy‘s Cat on the Edge

Naomi de Bruyn penned this review.

In the quiet coastal town of Molena Point, cats are treated like kings and queens. People tend to drive slowly so as to avoid hitting any free-roaming cats; even the tourists observe some unspoken law regarding the speed limit. George Jolly’s Gourmet Deli puts out dishes of cheeses, smoked salmon imported from Seattle, shrimp, and even caviar, for the town’s feline denizens. In this town, even the strays are well cared for, and need not struggle to survive.

Amongst all these pampered felines are two unusual creatures, Joe Grey and his paramour, an orange tabby named Dulcie. These two are able to do some very special things, such as read, reason, and even talk! Only their human companions are aware of these abilities, ensuring safety and a semblance of normalcy for the cats and the town. Along with their extraordinary abilities, Joe Grey and Dulcie have their natural feline curiosity. This has led to the pair becoming quite the detectives, for who would suspect any danger from a mere cat? They can’t talk, after all.

In Cat on the Edge, the first novel in a delightful series of fast-paced mystery and whimsical fantasy by Shirley Rousseau Murphy, we find tomcat Joe Grey undergoing a strange metamorphosis. Not only is he able to understand human speech, he can actually speak! This is enough to shake a cat out of at least eight of his nine lives, but then Joe Grey witnesses a murder in the alley behind his favorite delicatessen, and it could very well cost him his final ninth life!

The murderer is not content to leave witnesses, even if they are feline. With a shock of cold fear, Joe Grey knows that this murderer will stop at nothing to rid the world of one more tomcat. And perhaps even more terrifying, somehow the murderer knows the Joe Grey can speak and understand the human tongue. In his headlong flight from the insane killer, Joe Grey meets his girlfriend, Dulcie. Together the pair try to understand what has happened to them, and deal with the human emotions they are now feeling, while avoiding the killer.

And then there is the one mystery which Joe Grey and Dulcie would give almost anything to solve. The mystery of their heritage, and how they came to have this incredible gift of speech and understanding. The history of their species goes extremely far back, into Egypt and also medieval Celtic villages. There are references to Irish burial mounds with pictures of cats carved into their doors. And there are also legends in Egyptian, Celtic, and Italian history of people vanishing and cats suddenly appearing in their stead.

All in all, I found this to be a whimsical yet fast-paced mystery with strong fantasy elements. A great way to spend some time!

(HarperPrism, 1996)

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Diverse Voices is our catch-all for writers and other staffers who did but a few reviews or other writings for us. They are credited at the beginning of the actual writing if we know who they are which we don’t always.

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