Clea Simon | Cats Can't Shoot

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The second Pru Marlowe pet noir: When Pru Marlowe gets the call that there’s been a cat shooting, she’s furious. Animal brutality is the one thing that this tough animal psychic won’t stand for, and in her role as a behaviorist she’s determined to care for the traumatized pet. But when Pru finds out that the cat did the shooting – accidentally setting off a rare dueling pistol – she realizes something else is going on. Could the white Persian really have killed her owner – or did the whole bloody mess have something to do with that pricey collectible? With the white cat turning a deaf ear to her questions, Pru must tune in to Beauville’s other pampered residents – from the dead man’s elite social set to their equally spoiled pets – and learn the truth before her ex, a former New York cop, gets too close. In a world where value is determined by a price tag, only Pru Marlowe and her trusty tabby Wallis can figure out if this was a case of feline felony – or if some human has set the Persian up to be the ultimate cat’s paw.

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Excerpt from Cats Can’t Shoot:

When I first got the call about a “cat shooting,” I assumed the worst. People can be evil, and I’ve seen the damage they can do. But when I got to the house, I realized that no feline had been brutalized, at least not the way I had feared. The longhaired white cat I found cowering in a cupboard was apparently unharmed, aside from shock and some singeing where the powder had marked her silky white coat. It was the person who was dead.

The house was anything but, buzzing like a beehive. I didn’t know what the brouhaha was about at first, just that the call that summoned me had sounded serious. So, for a change, I’d come. In general, I don’t do summoning well. As independent as any lone female, I prefer to name my terms. The phrase “cat shooting” had caught me, however. When an animal is in danger, I’m willing to bend the rules. And while I wasn’t given the details, as soon as I pulled into the long semi-circular drive, it was clear something was up. With their coveralls and protective booties on, those technician types didn’t fit with the detailed woodwork or the spacious porch that wrapped around two sides of the restored Queen Anne. Two of the techies, carrying in some kind of plastic case, left the carved door ajar, so I’d followed them in. So many people were filtering in and out by then nobody seemed to care if I tramped in on a crime scene. In fact, despite the ominous words I’d heard on the phone, I wasn’t entirely sure that I was in one. Until I saw what was left of him.

Downstairs office – probably the grand house’s sitting room in a prior incarnation – with a view of a lawn that must have stretched down to the river, and a body that had been dead long enough to really look it. Donal Franklin, if the letterhead scattered across the desk was any indication. I certainly couldn’t tell. I’d met Donal – Don, he’d called himself – at a black-tie Valentine’s Day dinner I’d been duped into attending. But the cold, still thing that lay in a pool of blood bore no resemblance to the dapper socialite I’d danced with not six weeks before. This thing was white, fake looking against the darkening blood. Plastic. Like another dead body I’d seen, not that long ago.

From Cats Can’t Shoot, copyright Clea Simon 2012