Richmond Times-Dispatch

By Jay Strafford

A most unusual detective team — a girl and a cat — returns for a second outing in “As Dark as My Fur” (208 pages, Severn House, $28.99), the second installment in Clea Simon’s newest series.

Carrie “Care” Wright is in her early teens and has taken over her murdered mentor’s business. Blackie is a cat — and the novel’s narrator. When Care is approached by a manufacturer named Gravitch who wants her to find his employee Dingo, Blackie distrusts his motives. But Care takes the job, and the two travel through an unnamed, benighted city on their search.

When they discover a corpse, the stakes rise exponentially, as Care detects and Blackie protects. Along the way, Simon reveals more of their backgrounds.

A combination of hard-boiled crime novel, feline fiction, corruption and even a touch of the supernatural, “As Dark as My Fur” — the latest product of Simon’s imaginative mind — offers a gritty look at the sleazy side of urban life, and the biped and the quadruped who confront it.

Jay Strafford is a retired writer and editor for The Times-Dispatch. Contact him at jstrafford@timesdispatch.com.

The Conscious Cat with Ingrid King

Even though the saying goes “you can’t always judge a book by its cover,” this actually doesn’t always apply with book covers. However, in the case of As Dark As My Fur, the second book in Clea Simon’s Blackie and Care Cat Mystery series, the cover accurately reflects the book’s feel and tone.

Written in the voice of Blackie, a black cat with a mysterious past, set in an unnamed city with a post-apocalyptic feel, this series combines elements of fantasy and mystery. In As Dark As My Fur, Simon continues the adventures of Blackie and  teenager Care, an apprentice private detective.

This book is quite a departure from Clea Simon’s other cat-centric mysteries, and while I adore every single book in her other series, I have to confess, this series is a real stretch for me. I don’t really enjoy reading fantasy, and the almost Dickensian feel of this book was much too dark and depressing for my taste.

I was, however, mesmerized by Simon’s writing. I consider Clea Simon to be an absolutely brilliant writer, regardless of what genre she writes in. Writing in a cat’s voice is an art form, and few writers manage to do it well. In this series, Simon takes this art into a new realm. The way she sets scenes from Blackie’s point of view, and the way she describes how he takes in the world around him, reflects not just a thorough understanding of feline behavior, but also a connection to the feline soul that I have rarely seen in other cat books. The best writers paint pictures with their words. In As Dark As My Fur, Clea Simon paints a sweeping emotional cityscape that will stay with you long after you put the book down.

If you enjoy gritty, dark mysteries with an element of urban fantasy, you will enjoy this book.

The Conscious Cat with Ingrid King

Even though the saying goes “you can’t always judge a book by its cover,” this actually doesn’t always apply with book covers. However, in the case of As Dark As My Fur, the second book in Clea Simon’s Blackie and Care Cat Mystery series, the cover accurately reflects the book’s feel and tone.

Written in the voice of Blackie, a black cat with a mysterious past, set in an unnamed city with a post-apocalyptic feel, this series combines elements of fantasy and mystery. In As Dark As My Fur, Simon continues the adventures of Blackie and  teenager Care, an apprentice private detective.

This book is quite a departure from Clea Simon’s other cat-centric mysteries, and while I adore every single book in her other series, I have to confess, this series is a real stretch for me. I don’t really enjoy reading fantasy, and the almost Dickensian feel of this book was much too dark and depressing for my taste.

I was, however, mesmerized by Simon’s writing. I consider Clea Simon to be an absolutely brilliant writer, regardless of what genre she writes in. Writing in a cat’s voice is an art form, and few writers manage to do it well. In this series, Simon takes this art into a new realm. The way she sets scenes from Blackie’s point of view, and the way she describes how he takes in the world around him, reflects not just a thorough understanding of feline behavior, but also a connection to the feline soul that I have rarely seen in other cat books. The best writers paint pictures with their words. In As Dark As My Fur, Clea Simon paints a sweeping emotional cityscape that will stay with you long after you put the book down.

If you enjoy gritty, dark mysteries with an element of urban fantasy, you will enjoy this book.

Bookblog of the Bristol Library

Reviewed by Jeanne

Since the apparent death of her mentor, young teen Carrie Wright—better known on the street as Care—has been living in the late detective’s office along with her cat, Blackie. She’s been trying to keep a low profile while eking out a living doing what he taught her: to do the needful, find the missing, locate the wrongdoer, retrieve what has been lost.  Now the other shoe has dropped, in the form of an eviction notice, and it appears even her meager shelter will soon go.

Hope arrives in the form of a job offer: a man suspects one of his workers is skimming profits and he asks Care to investigate.  When the trail leads to a decomposing body, Care finds she may have been set up.  She has only herself to depend on, or so she thinks… Continue reading “”

As Dark As My Fur

A seemingly routine case becomes something far darker and deeper for novice private investigator, Care, and her feline companion, Blackie.

Readers who enjoy the prickly pleasure of stepping into a strange alternate universe will welcome Simon’s hypnotic second Blackie and Care mystery … perilously walks the line between dream and nightmare.Publishers Weekly

“Absolutely brilliant … Clea Simon paints a sweeping emotional cityscape that will stay with you long after you put the book down.” – Conscious Cat

PW on “As Dark As My Fur”

As Dark as My Fur: A Blackie and Care MysteryClea Simon. Severn, $28.99 (208p) ISBN 978-0-7278-8682-8

Readers who enjoy the prickly pleasure of stepping into a strange alternate universe will welcome Simon’s hypnotic second Blackie and Care mystery (after 2015’s The Ninth Life), set in a blighted unnamed city. Bands of gangsters control the various neighborhoods, bartering is more common than the use of money, and the mostly illiterate masses have to scavenge to eke out a living. Pink-haired teen Carrie “Care” Wright, an apprentice private detective, navigates this treacherous world aided by Blackie, a cat she rescued from drowning. Blackie, the narrator, is no ordinary cat. His consciousness contains not only his feline instincts but also flashes of memories from his past life as a human. When a factory owner hires Care, who has been in charge of the detective agency since her mentor’s murder, to shadow one of his workers, Blackie fears something isn’t quite right. Since he can’t talk, he can do little to warn Care of his misgivings. The novel perilously walks the line between dream and nightmare.

Crazy Cat Lady Mysteries

AS DARK AS MY FUR, by Clea Simon, Cat Writer

Reviewed by Mollie Hunt

An orphaned girl makes an unlikely detective in a harsh, dystopian city. Aided by a cat with a past, she seeks answers to a cruel case. Traps are set; gauntlets are run, There is danger everywhere. Narrated by Blackie, an ancient cat who had once been human, the story loops and spirals to the final conclusion and leaves us ready for the next book.

Simon is extremely cat-savvy to pull off this unconventional narration with such accuracy and feeling… Continue reading “Crazy Cat Lady Mysteries”

Miss Cuddlywumps on “As Dark As My Fur”

From The Cuddlywumps Cat Chronicles

This blog is written and maintained by Miss Cuddlywumps, a fluffy-tailed calico cat who is both classically educated and familiar with mysteries. Comments or complaints should be addressed to Miss C rather than to author Roby Sweet. Ms. Sweet accepts no responsibility for Miss C’s opinions.

Book Review: As Dark as My Fur

Monday, January 23, 2017

We are in love with this series by one of our favorite writers, Clea Simon. As Dark as My Fur is the second book in the Blackie and Care series, and it fully lives up to the promise of the first book, with a darkness and grit that are engrossing but not overwhelming. These are not the sort of lighthearted cozy mysteries we usually review here. Simon’s characters live hard lives in a bleak setting. There is hope, though, in the way they just keep going, and going, and going.

Where did this cat come from, anyway?
The story is told from the point of view of a black cat (Blackie). He is not a young cat. His body hurts sometimes. He’s maybe not as fast as he used to be, and perhaps he can’t jump as high or fight as hard as he used to. Also, he hasn’t always been a cat. It’s probably best if you don’t think too hard about how the soul or spirit or whatever you call it of a human got into a cat, but that is what happened. The first book in this series, The Ninth Life, largely dealt with the cat figuring out who he is. Now he knows.

He used to be a mentor to this pink-haired girl named Care. He was an investigator of sorts, finding things that have been lost—that sort of thing. Only now he’s a cat, unable to speak, unable to clearly communicate all he knows. But he is devoted to Care, to her protection.

Finding things that have been lost
Care, meanwhile, has taken over her mentor’s old business. She and Blackie are living in the old office and trying to take on paying clients, and if they don’t get some soon, they’ll be evicted from the only safe place they have. Also, food would be nice. Blackie can catch his own food, of course, but Care refuses even the best stuff he brings her. This distresses him, as so many things do.

It is against this backdrop that Care and Blackie find themselves caught up in a complex tale of deception, greed, and murder. While Care works to find out what her new client wants to know, Blackie works to untangle the client’s true intention. Because the cat can smell that there’s far more going on than what Care has been told. And the truth in this case is very, very dangerous.

Mesmerizing… Continue reading “Miss Cuddlywumps on “As Dark As My Fur””