by Cynthia Chow
Details at the end of this review on how to enter to win a copy of Kittens Can Kill. There is also a link to purchase the book where a portion goes to help support KRL & indie bookstore Mysterious Galaxy.
When she arrived at David Canaday’s Beuville mansion, all animal behaviorist Pru Marlowe wanted was to assess the kitten his daughter had hired her to check on. The last thing she wanted to discover was Canaday’s dead body—with the tiny kitten completely distraught, calling for his mother and wanting to play. Pru doesn’t have to guess the kitten’s intent, as she can hear animals’ thoughts and telepathically speak to them.
Typically, her human clients are the ones who prove to be the most challenging. David Canaday’s three daughters are all in varying stages of grief, and none is willing to take on the kitten that some believe induced Canaday’s fatal heart attack. In fact, the eldest daughter Judith, after having spent years caretaking her father, demands that the cat be put to death. Middle daughter Jackie had fled the small town to pursue a career in California as an actress, but while Pru sympathizes with her need to escape, she also distrusts Jackie’s motivations. Canaday’s youngest daughter Jill may be the most troubling of them all: not only does she receive the greatest share of their inheritance, but she also pressures Pru into becoming a mentor. Pru has spent years building barriers to guard her privacy and protect her secret abilities, and not even the growing relationship with Detective Jim Creighton has breached her protective walls.
Perhaps what makes this series so compelling is how grounded it feels in reality. Despite the fact that, yes, Pru can “speak” to animals, they never break their own very non-human thought patterns and much of the difficulty occurs with Pru’s inability to immediately interpret their communications. Only Wallis, her tabby roommate (who once saved Pru from a self-destructive spiral), succeeds in speaking clearly. Pru is challenged by her own troubled upbringing that has her relating to and sympathizing with each of the Canaday sisters even as she suspects then of having a hand in their father’s death.
Despite Pru’s prickliness, her brittle nature, and a less-than-pristine past, she is ultimately likable and admirable as she guards over animals that seem far nobler than humans. As she says, nature isn’t pretty but humans only make it worse. The title comes, prophetically enough, from an animal control officer’s ferret that provides the clue Pru interprets incorrectly. This novel delves deeply into noir territory with family drama and the secrets of an unforgiving small town, and it features a superbly strong heroine learning to lower her defenses and open herself up to a life filled with possibilities.
To enter to win a copy of Kittens Can Kill, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Kittens,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen March 14, 2015. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address, and if via comment please include your email address.
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