Cat's Claw Hardcover – Apr 2000
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From Publishers Weekly
The suspenseful and heart-wrenching fifth Cassidy McCabe mystery finds the likable Chicago therapist and her reporter husband, Zach, going their separate ways with their own cases--and nearly breaking up as a result. Twice one night a worried Cassidy checks up on her reclusive, cat-loving neighbor, Olivia Mallory. The first time a nervous Olivia gives her the brush-off. Cassidy later returns to discover a drunken ex-convict in the living room and Olivia in the basement, shot to death. The police arrest the ex-con, who was Olivia's prison pen pal. Convinced the man is innocent, Cassidy decides she must find the real murderer. When she locates Olivia's private papers, she realizes just how many people her spiteful neighbor had threatened and injured. Undaunted, she jumps in to question the woman's attorney, an illegal alien gardener, a cat-hating neighbor, Olivia's estranged daughter and loony aunt and a larcenous employer. Meanwhile, Zach, adopting the persona of JC, a hard-nosed, unlovable addict, has gone undercover to flush out two cops who are major players in the Chicago drug trade. Zach's inability to shake his persona at home and off duty threatens their marriage. Husband and wife must come to terms with their own frailties before Cassidy can bring her investigation to a triumphant close. (May)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Matthews hits her stride in this exciting addition to the Cassidy McCabe series. Here, the Chicago psychotherapist chides herself about her husband, an intense investigative reporter who must impersonate an unlikable wannabe drug dealer in order to expose a pair of dirty cops. But the real problem is Olivia, her reclusive, feral cat-feeding neighbor, whose odd and/or offensive habits provide her with many enemies and an ex-con acquaintance. When someone kills Olivia and police wrongly blame the ex-con, Cassidy looks for the real murderer. Infectious prose, concurrent his-and-her plots, and a spunky little like-to-help grandma place this at the top of the list.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
When Starshine adopted Cassidy McCabe, she inevitably changed her human's view of felines. The cat imparted the gift of love that her human reciprocated and eventually expanded to include concern for other felines as well. Consequently, when Cassidy's "cat-lady" neighbor is murdered, not only does Cassidy once again undertake to solve the murder, but also finds herself responsible for three housecats and nine feral cats. The reclusive Olivia never raises her blinds nor chats with neighbors. So when Cassidy decided to be neighborly in honor of their common concern for cats, Olivia bordered between suspicion and pleasure.
For the first time in twelve years, Cassidy notices that the blinds have been raised across the street. When she investigates, Olivia assures Cassidy that she is fine. But later that evening Cassidy returns to her neighbor's home, to find Olivia dead at the foot of her own stairs with a strange "mountain man," an ex-con, passed out on the couch. Convinced that the mountain man didn't kill Olivia, Cassidy feels compelled to discover Olivia's secrets and the reason for her death.
Meanwhile, Cassidy's husband Zach continues his undercover work as a reporter, disguised as a drug-dealing thug in an effort to prove the dirty dealings of cops. However, the obligatory undercover personality seems to take over, pushing the gentle and loving husband aside, leaving Cassidy with a dangerous, rude imposter. So while Zach's personality disintegrates into that of a hoodlum, Cassidy finds herself busy with Olivia's cats and ex-con friend. Convinced that the man didn't murder Olivia, Cassidy will go to any length to find the real killer while the police accept a bogus confession.
Matthews has an awesome talent for not only weaving excellent tales, but also memorable subplots. I want Cassidy's grandma for my own, complete with her array of wigs and saucy attitude, although I can do without her nagging mother. And to tell how much I love Starshine would require confessing that I have an orange and white kitten named just for this literary feline. Indeed, CAT'S CLAW is very highly recommended.
Brenda @ MyShelf.Com
When someone kills the Moran's next door neighbor Olive, Cassidy decides to start her own investigation because she fears the police have arrested the wrong person. The prime suspect is a former con who Cassidy believes deeply cared for the shy Olivia and who would never harm her. Cassidy soon learns that her deceased neighbor kept files on people she felt mistreated her. As Cassidy searches for the truth that she feels is contained inside the files, the killer remains ready to strike at anyone that comes close to uncovering his identity.
In CAT'S CLAW, Alex Matthews demonstrates her ability to cross genre lines by combining an exciting mystery with a terrific relationship drama. The combination will appeal to a mainstream audience. The two protagonists are believable because of their obvious love for one another even when they argue. They have grown from previous tales in this series and thus remain fresh and interesting. Animal lovers will salute Ms. Matthews for her well-written subplot on the plight of feral cats. In the final analysis what makes the McCabe series work is Ms. Matthews ability to allow her characters to evolve without changing their inner essence. Readers will eagerly await the next episode in this exciting and lively mystery series
The theme of feral cats has the series’ ongoing protagonist Cassidy McCabe having to relocate a colony of outdoor cats after their guardian is murdered and a neighborhood resident threatens to shoot the animals. Had the presence of the cats made the man angry enough to commit murder?
This topic drew me into the story right away because I was at that moment myself in the throes of having to get a colony of feral cats off the streets after a neighbor’s complaints. “Cat’s Claw” was written in 2000, before Chicago’s official catch-and-release program was in place, authorizing guardian individuals to trap alley cats - spay/neuter them – then release them back into their old neighborhoods to go on rat patrol. So Cassidy doesn’t specifically go through those steps. But she deals with the problem in parallel ways.
Matthews uses the same italics technique here that she uses in other books in her Cassidy McCabe series. Most of the book describes Cassidy’s actions from an objective, non-italicized point of view. But then when the reader is allowed to eavesdrop on Cassidy’s brain chatter, the text switches into italics. I usually found this to be a good technique. It eliminates the author’s having to repeatedly write, “Cassidy thought…” or “I thought…” However, this volume might contain a little too much of that offset interior monologue, and, in any case, Cassidy’s thoughts usually aren’t very interesting.
Another possibly distracting/detracting element in this story is its subplot involving Cassidy’s husband and the strain his undercover reporting work puts on their marriage. The personality transformation that Zach goes through as a result of his work, and Cassidy’s concerns about this estrangement, might strike some readers as being a little unrealistic.
But with the Chicagoland settings, the problem of dealing with feral cats, and the problem of angry neighbors – most readers will probably find something they can identify with on these pages.