Pet Peeves goes beyond the paradigms of standard humor, cartoon, and mystery books to create one with all three elements. I like new experiences, and really enjoyed this one! I think you will, too.
In the foreword, you learn that Dr. Edmund G. Rawff (a veterinarian who wrote a biweekly syndicated advice column on pet problems) disappeared two years ago after writing his last column. He left a note saying, 'I'm moving on.' There was a legal document in the house giving the home and furnishings in Meriden, Connecticut to the ASPCA. There was no evidence of foul play, but the basement office was littered with letters asking for advice, seemingly sent by the same person. Did these letters drive him away (was that the author's purpose?)? Or did he write the letters himself for amusement to confuse investigators? You as the reader are encouraged to decide what really happened to Dr. Rawff.
So, as you can see, we have a mystery.
What are the subjects of those letters?
Well, you'll have to read them for yourself. But you'll be rewarded because they are truly hilarious. They fall into four categories (wonderfully illustrated by Edward Koren):
(1) Mistaken identity (a fish that turns into a shark, a race horse turns out to be two actors in a horse costume, falcons are really Rhode Island Red hens, and there's some confusion over whose chickens crossed the road)
(2) Plays on old animal jokes (an 800 pound gorilla gets depressed because no one tells him he can sit wherever he wants, and 25 chimpanzees are unable to replicate any of Shakespeare's plays -- but do prove effective at completing unfinished works by other authors)
(3) Offbeat situations (a man takes a sheepdog and some sheep to be on the Letterman show and loses them in a taxi cab, and a 45 pound cat sleeps on its owner's chest every night)
(4) Sequenced stories (the chimpanzee story evolves over several episodes from creating nonsense to working on Schubert, a woman has a boa constrictor that keeps swalling a pet pig, and the evolution of the fish into the shark plays out).
In the end, you are given some hypotheses to consider about what could have happened to the good Doctor, just in case you cannot think of any.
Edward Koren deserves special mention because he has drawn over 800 cartoons for The New Yorker, and his visual humor certainly adds a lot to the writing by George Plimpton. The cartoons give the book a familiar feel, as well as evoking The New Yorker's wonderful style. The design of the book is imaginative also with each note being in a different format.
This book is not only fun, but it would make a good gift. You could also use it as a parlor game, asking people to come up with their own questions for the Doctor, and acting them out. Then you could vote on who had the funniest question.
After you have finished with this wonderful book, think about ways that you can combine communication methods in novel directions that would make your message stronger and fresher. Then practice using some of those new methods the next time you have a chance to do so. We can all make the world a lot more interesting place if we untie ourselves from the stalled thinking of complacency about following the standard approaches.