23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Mixed bag: some great,some mediocre,
This review is from: The Cat Who Had 14 Tales (Mass Market Paperback)
Of these 14 short stories, none are set in the Qwilleran household. The choice of narrator and style of narration vary from story to story. Two styles are prevalent: oral history and cat's-eye view. An oral history is presented in question and answer format, mostly in first-person. Cat's-eye view stories are narrated in third-person, from the viewpoint of one of the cats in the story.
I like some of the stories immensely. The others are noted as I come to them.
"Phut Phat Concentrates" - Style: Narrated from the viewpoint of the Siamese tom Phut Phat, the only witness to a robbery at his home. He's trying to institute his system of communication in the household, but it's uphill work.
"Weekend of the Big Puddle" - From the viewpoint of Percy, a comfortable middle-aged bachelor who "would have been considered somewhat stuffy, had he been a man. Being a cat, he was admired for his good behavior." Being of English extraction, Percy takes ghosts in his stride, provided they are of good breeding. Unfortunately, the dead at his summer home in the north country don't measure up to his standards, and he is unfairly blamed for their more disruptive actions.
"The Fluppie Phenomenon" - The narrator agreed to look after her sister's pedigreed Siamese kitten, a "fluppie" (an upwardly mobile feline, who is obsessed with pulling plugs, flipping levers, pushing buttons, and so on). So here we have a young cat who can open a car's power windows, inflate the water bill if locked in a bathroom, turn on a stereo at full volume if left alone... No real plot, but might entertain someone with a similarly inclined cat.
"The Hero of Drummond Street" - Style: Ordinary third-person. Various local brats have been tormenting the stray known as the Drooler, an unusually agreeable and child-loving cat. Very little plot.
"The Mad Museum Mouser" - Style: first-person narrative, of a woman writing a book on museums in the northeast central U.S. The most interesting is the Lockmaster museum - not only because of the exhibits. A crime has been committed on the premises, but the visitor must exercise immense patience to learn the details. Two elderly, gossipy characters from the Qwilleran stories are on staff: Rhoda Finney and Homer Tibbut. They provide both respectable and spicy bits of the history of the house (with an overused refrain of "of course you won't print that"). The Lockmaster family history is more interesting than the mystery.
"The Dark One" - Style: From the viewpoint of Dahk Won, an unusually dark-furred Siamese. His peaceful kittenhood ended with his sale to Hilda, a former concert pianist whose husband is away most of the week on construction jobs across the state. While weekdays are spent following the shoes with leather tassels (Hilda was left permanently handicapped after a car accident in which her husband was driving), weekends are full of tension, raised voices, and a pair of boots that are careless of his safety.
"East Side Story" - Style: Oral history. Rather than a mystery, the narrator remembers "Cat Canyon", a building site tied up in lawsuits. Intended to be a feline love story.
"Tipsy and the Board of Health" - Style: Oral history, the origin of Tipsy's Tavern. A good story, though not a mystery.
"A Cat Named Conscience" - Style: Oral history. The woman being interviewed remembers the bank cat, Conscience, who could make anyone squirm with a look, as well as the bank manager found hanging in the barn one day long ago.
"SuSu and the 8:30 Ghost" - The elderly narrator lives with her sister in a large apartment with a river view but reasonable rent, but they don't care to associate with their neighbors. However, their cat SuSu doesn't take such a standoffish view. A more sympathetic or interesting narrator might have helped this one.
"Stanley and Spook" - The narrator is visiting an old friend, Jane, whom she met years ago when they were both married to engineers on a dam-building project up north. The project members were plagued with accidents and bad luck, so that the project was eventually abandoned. Jane's son Spook (and even her cat, Stanley) were born on the site, with the assistance of an old midwife whose house was to be torn down to make way for the dam - a woman reputed to be a witch. This story would have worked better as an oral history, or in two parts (the project, then jump to the present).
"A Cat Too Small for His Whiskers" - Style: Third-person, but mainly from the viewpoint of the "just plain folks" Hopple family. (After all, their place isn't very large - just 8 bedrooms, space to land Mr. Hopple's small plane, swimming pool, tennis court...) Donald, the six-year-old, is the only person to notice a very unusual cat hanging around. While I like the continual contrasts of reality with the "just plain folks" opinions of the family, it gets in the way of the plot.
"The Sin of Madame Phloi" - Style: From the viewpoint of Madame Phloi, a Siamese aristocrat who lives with her son Thapthim (and two amiable creatures without names, who come and go a great deal) in a run-down apartment building. The Madame, as sole witness to a crime, can't hope to see justice done - can she?
"Tragedy on New Year's Eve" - Style: A series of letters from the narrator to her son, who is on active duty. (The style of presentation detracts from the story.) She witnessed a fatal car accident on New Year's Eve - but was it an accident?