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The Unscratchables Paperback – July 7, 2009

53 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Det. Max Crusher McNash, a fearless bull terrier in the slaughter unit of the San Bernardo police dog force, must overcome his distrust of special agent Cassius Lap, a very Zen Siamese of the FBI (Feline Bureau of Investigation), in their pursuit of a serial killer cat targeting dogs in this off-the-leash hard-boiled satire from the pseudonymous Kane. The fur begins flying when two rottweilers are torn apart. Later victims include a retriever attending a museum shindig, movie star Jack Russell Crowe and a newshound. Crusher and Cassius deal with gangsta hounds as well as visit Kathattan, an island where dogs are unwelcome, and Cattica Correctional Facility, where convicted murderer Quentin Riossiti, a debonair psycho cat, offers his help for a price. Billed as a well-known Australian author, Kane offers plenty of tongue-in-muzzle insights into bestial behavior, political chicanery and assorted foxy topics. (July)
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From Booklist

*Starred Review* In a world inhabited entirely by animals, Max “Crusher” McNab is a bull terrier working in the San Bernardo Slaughter Unit (homicide). He’s a good cop, dedicated and hardworking, but when three local goons for hire (Rottweilers) are torn apart and the evidence points to a cat as the killer, McNab is assigned a partner. Part Siamese Cassius Lap works for the FBI (Feline Bureau of Investigation), and he is McNab’s opposite in every way: shiny clean, always dressed in a stylish suit, and a dedicated soy milk drinker. Not only is the unlikely duo of McNab and Lap one of the best new pairs in detective fiction, but The Unscratchables is a perfect mix of wit, classic hard-boiled style, and perceptive commentary on modern society, all coming together to create one of the best mysteries of 2009. What makes this novel stand out is the fully fleshed and utterly believable world created by Kane. Every detail of his fantastical setting is clearly thought out, from locales to the noirish slang of the cops; yet the reader is never subjected to an info dump: all the details are neatly parceled out along with the compelling and fast-paced plot. An excellent suggestion for fans of both clever animal sleuths—Spencer Quinn’s Dog on It (2009) or Tim Davys’ Amberville (2009)—and those who can’t get enough of the retro hard-boiled style that Joe Gores nailed in Spade & Archer (2009). --Jessica Moyer

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 259 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner (July 7, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416596410
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416596417
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #489,635 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Tanstaafl VINE VOICE on July 2, 2009
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Woof! Woof! Woof! Woof! Woof!
Meow! Meow! Meow! Meow! Meow!

I read this to our dog, Wendy and a friend's cat, Bruno. At the end I asked them to rate it from one to five stars. We tried paper ballots but Wendy chewed hers up and Bruno tore his to shreds. So, we went with a voice vote and the results are recorded above. The title is theirs, too.

Our discussion was at times a shambles. Bruno complained that there was too much about dogs and Wendy, of course, thought the cats were given way too much print. They were much more vocal about their positions than I care to relate.

All three of us agreed about the following:

The portrayal of the characters was amazingly consistent throughout. Maintaining any "gimmick" for this many pages is difficult , but Kane handled it marvelously. Wendy & Bruno have been imitating their favorite characters (and I'm getting more than a little spooked).

There is a running line of social commentary throughout the book as well. Bruno and Wendy were whispering between themselves for a few minutes. When I asked what they were talking about, Wendy said "It's pretty amazing how a guy who writes about dogs and cats also seems to be writing about humans."

There was a well developed story line and constant action. As with all good mysteries, there's no space wasted on fluff and filler; there are red herrings galore and trips down dead end streets. This is a non-stop race to the finish line.

The writing was well done with realistic (given the speakers) dialog. And the word play is hilarious! (I have to say it again: the word play is hilarious!!!)

We three wished that the book had been longer, but agreed that for the story being told it stopped at the right place.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Patrick L. Randall VINE VOICE on July 23, 2009
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The fur is a-flying in this flea-bitten murder mystery. The same old cop tale (er.. tail?) gets a brand new treatment in Cornelius Kane's "The Unscratchables". The story is familiar, but the world is different. Instead of Gotham or New York City, you now have the Kennels of San Bernardo and the high-rises of Kathattan. This is a world where cats and dogs are the cops and robbers. Here, the plot focuses on a vicious set of murders of two Rottweilers who work for the mob. It would seem a monstrous feral cat was responsible for this attack and a subsequent chain of murders in San Bernardo. Grizzled bull terrier Crusher McNash and Siamese FBI (Feline Bureau of Investigation) agent, Cassius Lap, are tasked with find out the true `tail' behind the murders.

Kane has come up with an ingenious way of rebooting the crime drama. He does not simply take characters that would have been human otherwise and claim they are cats and dogs. He truly creates the animal world with the characteristics and behaviors that are known of these animals. The actions you are familiar with from your typical house cat or dog are instantly recognizable in McNash, Lap, and all their colleagues and suspects.

A particularly amusing aspect of Kane's novel is how reverential he is to some great films, as well as modern pop culture. You can easily pick up traces of Apocalypse Now, Silence of the Lambs, and The Godfather in this story. It also isn't very hard to find figure out who he is spoofing with such celebrities as Mutt Damon, Benji Affleck, and Tom Manx.

Taking an overdone plot and turning it into something wholly original is not very common these days. However, Cornelius Kane succeeds marvelously.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By R. A. Barricklow VINE VOICE on July 18, 2009
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
When I first picked up the scent of THE UNSCRATCHABLES I didn't know what I was getting my snout into. But before I could turn the first page my tail was wagging and I couldn't stop it. Of course many will attribute this to my dogmatic attitude. Even my catonic wife was perking her ears up as I barked out loud with laughter. Don't get me wrong, there is plenty of serious action and a very deep analysis of government/corporate control of society that will really get your tail up, but it's the writing... so good that you can bet your whiskers on it... it is that good! I'am telling you your going to be bowwowing about this to your friends for some time to come.
CRUSHER McNASH is one hardcase detective, a barrel-chested bull terrier, no one wants to cross or throw the ball to. When some Rottweiller gangsters take an unexpected one-way ticket through a slice & dice modus operandi near the river CRUSHER is called in. Soon the ante starts getting higher and CASSIUS LAP, a razor sharp smart Siamese in the Feline Bureeau Of Investigation, teams up with CRUSHER. McNASH ain't humping any legs over this partnership but he is dog obedient for a while.
I remember when I turned the first page and read that the cheif ordered McNASH to have a wash-his first in two months-and that he was feeling so clean he almost gagged. The fleas even began to wonder who he was. Well reader its about time you too roll with THE UNSCRATCHABLES. Find out about the PPU, The Party of The Perpetual Underdog, or The Office of Enforced Perspectives, or go from the junkyards to the penthouses, from the gambling dens to cat prison to the PAVLOV Center, rub shoulders with serial killer Quentin Riossiti, media mogal Phineas Reynard, cat mob boss Don Gato, dog boss Pompey the Gross and attorney Thomas Schrodinger.
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