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.

We found it absolutely mesmerizing to walk along in Blackie’s pawsteps through the streets of this unnamed city, a city whose best years are behind it. We can’t say that there is anything beautiful here. It’s a place where the strong dominate and use the weak, where nothing matters much beyond survival. We feel Blackie’s frustration at not being able to communicate fully with Care as, again and again, he senses something she does not. We feel his confusion at times, and his constant desire to protect Care at all costs. Each night when we curled up to read this book, we found ourselves reading farther than we intended because, as dark as Blackie’s world is, it’s hard to set aside.

As Dark as My Fur is not a book whose sentences go tripping happily along. It is instead a book that grabs you in the midgut area and doesn’t let go. We found this to be a not unpleasant sensation, and one that pulled us to keep reading, reading, reading. And we are so glad we did.

For those willing to face the darkness, we very highly recommend this book!

As Dark as My Fur is set for release on April 1, 2017. It is currently available for preorder.