Clea Simon | Probable Claws



Probable Claws

Probable Claws is now available

Come to one of my events, or buy your copy from Amazon here.

“Music journalist Theda Krakow once again proves a feisty and determined sleuth in Simon’s lively fourth cat-themed mystery. ... Well-drawn characters, a plot with many strings to unravel and plenty of appealing cats make this another winner.” — Publishers Weekly

When cats start getting sick, feline-loving freelance writer Theda Krakow suspects an accident is to blame. But her shelter-owning rocker buddy Violet claims the contaminated kibble was poisoned, and when Theda starts looking at shelter politics she finds a litter of suspects. The big city shelter may be backing down from a healthy pet initiative, a series of threatening letters suggests a darker motive, and old-fashioned jealousy may factor in as well. The pressure mounts as Theda's editor grabs onto the idea of a hot story - and dangles a prime staff writing job as bait. But how can Theda investigate when feelings - and felines - run so high? As the music scene rallies to raise funds to save the cats, Theda finds herself on the outs with both her buddies and her longtime boyfriend Bill. And when she's caught at a murder scene, bloody scalpel in hand and only her beloved cat Musetta as a witness to what really happened, Theda must scramble to find the real killer before she, and Musetta, become the next victims.

From the Theda Krakow mystery, Probable Claws (Poisoned Pen Press):

Prologue

I am not a cat. Beyond the obvious – no fur, no whiskers – I’m not and have never been as fastidious as your average feline, and I’m certainly not the clean freak that my own Musetta is. I do not drop everything to bathe.

But as I looked down at the red-brown stain seeping into the knees of my jeans and tried to rub the sticky liquid from my hands, I began to understand the urge. Even as I wiped my palms on the loose papers spread all around, I saw that blood had gotten under my nails, had begun to dry in my knuckles and under the band of my wristwatch. I wanted to back out, to forget that today had ever happened. But as I looked down at the mangled body that had once been my friend, I knew it was already too late.

Chapter 1: Two days earlier

“Tuna breath!” I recoiled in disgust.

“Excuse me?” The voice on the phone was too refined to sound insulted. Still, I owed Patti an explanation.

“Sorry, Patti.” I sat up, and pulled my plump cat into my lap – and away from my face. “Musetta was giving me a morning kiss.”

“Oh, isn’t that sweet!” It was, but my cat’s bad breath had woken me more effectively than my neighbor’s early morning call. “But anyway, Theda, I wanted to ask you about the whole cat food thing. I mean, Violet left me a message, and I’ve got some lovely chicken livers left over from my dinner date last night. I should tell you about him; he’s a most interesting man. But anyway, we did a sauté with some sherry, and I just don’t know. I mean, they say the alcohol burns off, but–”

“Hang on a minute.” Who had been sautéed? I shook my head to clear it, sending Musetta, my black and white tuxedo cat, bounding to the floor. It was Tuesday, almost nine, but the regular work week meant little in my line of business. I’m a writer, a music critic who specializes in the club scene of this gritty little city, and I’d been out late the night before. A new British band, on its first US tour, had played the first of two gigs in the area. I’d interviewed them for the weekly column I write for Boston’s Morning Mail, and although it wasn’t necessarily part of the job, I had stayed up with them long after their midnight set, sharing beers and industry gossip. What’s a job without perks? “Patti, I don’t mean to be rude.” At this hour, with this head, that was the best I could do. “But what are you talking about?”

“Didn’t you hear? I thought Violet would call you first.” I looked over to my answering machine and saw that it was, in fact, blinking. “There’s something wrong with some of the commercial cat food again. Violet’s cats have been poisoned.”