FlabberGassed: A Mister Puss Mystery 1st Edition
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"The new 'Mister Puss' mystery series opens with one of the most intriguing introductions seen in the mystery genre ... Readers used to the usual progression of a murder mystery will find many exceptional twists in this story, from a feline character to a gay architect's involvement in a case demanding skills that he fears he may not possess. FlabberGassed is quirky, original, and a delightful read."
"Craft's return to the genre of gay mysteries is handled masterfully. Craft keeps the reader guessing until almost the very end as to who the killer is, and the reason for the dastardly deed ... At turns humorous, sexy, and even poignant, FlabberGassed is an entertaining read with a likeable protagonist, a tranquil town disrupted by a chilling crime, a colorful cast of characters, and a snarky cat; what's not to like?"
"Dumont could very well become as beloved by its fans as St. Mary Mead and Cabot Cove. Fans of offbeat ambiance, animal-centric tales, and unforced diversity will find much to enjoy in FlabberGassed."
"As a reader, I don't usually reach for a cozy. My tastes run dark, usually procedurals, thrillers, and noir. That being said, I gave myself over to Craft's delightful prose and warm wit, finding myself charmed by this quirky and insightful mystery ... The mystery is engrossing chiefly because of Craft's sensitivity to character."
From the Author
For example, my first Mark Manning mystery, Flight Dreams (1997), prominently featured Abyssinian cats, a breed I know and love. Further, the fictitious setting of small-town Dumont was developed throughout the last five volumes of the Mark Manning series and then figured centrally in my short-story collection, Inside Dumont (2016), long after Manning had left town. Inside Dumont also introduced the character of Brody Norris, a gay architect with a clever knack for problem-solving.
The idea for a mystery series based on the whimsical premise of a talking cat started to develop for me after I published a prize-winning short story, "Mister Puss," in 2017. Encouraged by reader feedback, I decided to feature the chatty feline as a quirky supporting character in a new series with a distinctive subtitle bearing the cat's name instead of the sleuth's. The original short story--revised and condensed--now stands at the beginning of FlabberGassed as something of a prologue.
As to Mister Puss himself, there's a lingering question throughout the book: Does the cat really talk? I have tried to leave the answer open-ended. Realistically, we know the cat is not capable of human speech, but he does seem to communicate--through his purr, somehow--first to Mary Questman and eventually to our sleuth and narrator, Brody Norris. Ultimately, then, it's left to each reader to decide how much "suspension of disbelief" can be allowed.
But here's a clue: the story is more fun if you just go with it. I hope you'll enjoy reading FlabberGassed as much as I enjoyed writing it.
- Item Weight : 14.4 ounces
- ISBN-10 : 0692135995
- ISBN-13 : 978-0692135990
- Paperback : 276 pages
- Dimensions : 6 x 0.69 x 9 inches
- Publisher : Questover Press; 1st edition (September 1, 2018)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #751,545 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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By Michael Craft
Questover Press, 2018
What an elegant mystery. What an absurd idea made irresistible and almost mystical at the hands of a gifted writer. A talking cat? Yes, or at least a cat rather beyond the ordinary cats one has known previously. And this cat has no exotic, portentous name; because a dear older lady – a real lady – names him casually, offhandedly, when he wanders into her life. Mr. Puss. The best cat in all of modern fiction.
If Miss Marple were to be transformed into a thirty-something gay man in a small Wisconsin town, that would be Brody Norris. Brody, an architect in partnership with his significantly older husband, Marson, has rooted himself deeply into the life of Dumont, Wisconsin. He knows all the players. He is friends with the people he must consider suspects in the startling murder he witnesses. Brody is a good, loving, intelligent man, and he finds that there is always something more to learn in life.
Like talking cats.
Beneath Craft’s beautifully wrought prose, which perfectly reflects Brody’s self-assured, benevolent heart and mind, there is a dark thread. Set against today’s surreal political reality, Brody’s investigation is forced to probe behind the smiling, polite facades of American Midwesterners. He has to look for things he really doesn’t want to see, and in doing this learns something about himself.
Michael Craft’s narrative is controlled, carefully measured, even when the plot itself is dipping into the worst of human nature. Brody Norris’s is a cultured voice, modulated with his own moral integrity and personal honesty. When you see through the eyes of a good person who knows his own flaws, everything around you takes on a clarity of perception.
This is an old-fashioned book, but a very contemporary one at the same time. It is the tantalizing beginning of what I hope will be a substantial series. Now that I’ve moved to Dumont, I really do want to get to know the people who live there. Not to mention Mr. Puss. I’m a dog person. But by the end of this I was yearning for a cat.
Set in fictional Dumont, Wisconsin, FlabberGassed tells the story of an eccentric man named Dr. Francis Frumpkin with an eccentric idea: miracle weight loss through an invention called FlabberGas. Also central to the plot is a local woman named Mary Questman and a cat, Mr. Puss, who inserts himself into her life and communicates with her in a most unusual way.
Enter young architect Brody Norris his husband, Marson Miles. Brody is quickly hired to design a chain of FlabberGassed clinics, and the mystery begins. I won’t say more, except that a murder occurs, as it must, and the identity of the murderer becomes central to an intricate plot woven with characters who make Dumont such an interesting place to imagine. Suffice it to say I had no idea who the killer was until it was revealed, and given the distinctive natures of the people who inhabit this unusual place, it could have been any of several.
This is the first in the Mr. Puss series, and if FlabberGassed is any indication, readers, like Mr. Puss himself, are in for treat after treat.
It doesn’t help that Frumpkin has hired Brody to design the clinics, which he envisions as franchises across the country.
Brody and Marson are relieved Mary backs out of demonstrating the hyperbaric chamber, but surprised to learn the advice came from Mister Puss. Then the doctor’s son-in-law, Dr. Jason Ward, steps in and, to everyone’s horror, dies during the presentation.
Which is when Mister Puss whispers to Mary that Brody should help Sheriff Thomas Simms solve the murder.
And then Mister Puss whispers a few facts to Brody.
Suspects multiply like the castor beans local reporter Glee Savage grows in her backyard. Which clue will help Brody slot all the others into place and solve Dr. Ward’s murder?
While the humans ponder and search, Mister Puss is on the job in this engaging first novel in Michael Craft’s new cozy mystery series. Dumont, Michigan has a new detective, and he’s a four-footed genius.
Mystery solved, I slowed down and read the book a second time at a more leisurely pace - just to enjoy the craftsmanship of the writing and to find the clues I missed. What a rich story, full of very human but very likable (mostly) characters! I recommend you get to know them, too.
In the cosmos of cats with amazing powers, Mister Puss has quickly earned a prominent place. I’ve co-habitated with several intuitive felines in my time. Mister Puss embodies them all, with just a touch more of the exotic that we all know is deep down in every cat.
Another compelling sub-plot is the interactions between gay characters in a small town, where the need to find others is very compelling, but also challenging to established intimacies. The personalities are all very believable – I want to come over to the Loft for cocktails, too!