Roger--a sarcastic, well-read, talking cat who solves cryptic crosswords--is the star of Cat Out of Hell, an adventurous, gothic mystery novel that straddles a fine line between humor and horror, good and evil, life and death. Roger's story is complicated and at times absurdly comical and far-reaching. Readers, however, are in good hands with Lynne Truss (Eats, Shoots & Leaves), who launches her narrative with Alec Charlesworth--a lonely widower, a former Cambridge librarian--who retreats to a North Norfolk coastal cottage to grieve the death of his beloved wife. As dreary days wear on, Alec opens an e-mail sent to him by a former colleague he scarcely remembers, Dr. Winterton. Attached is a mysterious document called "Roger," a compilation of notes, screenplay pages, JPEGs, videos, audios and file transcripts.
Alec tries to decipher why these materials were sent to him and their meaning. He focuses on a recorded conversation between Roger and a man named Wiggy. Alec learns that Wiggy is also a grieving widower, whose sister and her dog have disappeared. Wading through the files and putting all the pieces together, Alec begins to suspect the chilling story of Roger and his chilling past may link several mysterious deaths. Furthermore, it may even expose a complex plot involving the dark side of cats, their many lives and their intricate--sometimes retributive--behaviors.
Rich characterizations and the inventive structure of Truss's clever, comic novel all serve to enhance this endearing, insightful and often wicked mystery that ratchets up suspense and intrigue while exploring aspects of mortality.
Melville House, $24.95 Hardcover, 9781612194424, 256 pp
Publication Date: March 3, 2014
Note: This review is a reprint and is being posted (in a slightly different form) with the permission of Shelf Awareness. To read this review on Shelf Awareness: Reader's Edition (3/20/15), click HERE