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Book review: Cat Out of Hell by Lynne Truss

I defy any reader, any book lover, to walk past a cover like this without picking up the book. I did more than pick it up, of course. I took it home.

Cat out of Hell by that Custodian of Good English, Lynne Truss, is that old fashioned thing: a book sans pretensions. It’s a good read and keeps you absorbed, with just the right servings of mystery, horror, murder, leavened with dollops of humour. You read it at one go, and decide that was time well spent. Because you had fun.

Truss takes a newly bereaved, recently retired librarian Alec Charlesworth, getting on in years, and still palpably mourning his wife Mary. Staying faithful to the whodunit tradition, Truss has the man getting hold of the most startling story ever. There’s been a ghastly murder in a quiet English village, and to all intents and purposes, it would seem the murdered woman’s cat Roger did it. And Roger isn’t denying it either.

Aha! Had you there, right? The thing is, Roger is a sinister feline who can talk. Not just talk, he can quote Milton and Tennyson, has a taste for the Classics, and is possessed of a distinctly sarcastic tongue. What’s more, Roger has a Story to tell.

The story involves an even more sinister and decidedly murderous cat called Captain, travels across the Orient and the Occident, several murders, Masters who control these Cats with Nine Lives, and Beelzebub (yes, you read that right!) who controls the Master, of course. Red herrings come in the way of a slightly daft dog called Watson, a dreamy woman with a purr in her voice called Tawny, et al.

Cat lovers will lap up this one. And I realised August 8 was International Cat Day (!), a good day to read of tabbies who belong in Hades.


Cat Out Of hellcatsLynne Truss

Sheila Kumar • August 14, 2015

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