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Ninth Life, The: A new cat mystery series (A Blackie and Care Cat Mystery) Hardcover – March 1, 2016
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"Forget everything you think you know about 'cat mysteries.' THE NINTH LIFE is a dark and gritty story of life on the streets, told from the unique point of view of a narrator who sees things humans can't. Clea Simon has given us a window into a world of constant and surprising dangers, frustrations and almost unbearable tension, and it's one I won't soon forget." (Joseph Finder, New York Times bestselling author of The Fixer and Suspicion)
"A delight for anyone who relishes cat mysteries" (Library Journal)
"I loved the writing perspective of this new series. I can't imagine the creativity of Clea Simon. She is amazing. . . Never thought that I would be reading a cozy/thriller strictly narrated by a feline. BRILLIANT!" (P Marks, reviewer)
"Overall the world woven by the words of this sensible cat create such an immersive sense of tragic melancholy, intrigue and constant fear that I'm far too involved in the story to analyse the style and content. I can only see this 'world of casual violence and retribution' that these children are forced to inhabit. My reviewing abilities are fully compromised by becoming so thoroughly engrossed in a wonderful reading experience." (Breakaway Reviewers)
"A tour de force of point of view--the talented Clea Simon flawlessly portrays a main character the likes of which we'e never encountered! With skill and style and profound understanding, she entertains readers with an exciting, compelling, and utterly unique adventure." (Hank Phillippi Ryan - Agatha, Anthony and Mary Higgins Clark Award winning author)
"Noir fans who are fond of felines will find a lot to like." (Publishers Weekly)
"Clea Simon has clearly spent some time considering what it’s like to be a cat. Blackie (and Care, ultimately) moves through the city as both hunter and prey, vulnerable and dangerous at the same time, depending on who the foe is." (S Andrews, reviewer)
"The Ninth Life is one of Clea Simon's best novels yet, showcasing her talent for creating vibrant characters both human and animal and for developing an unforgettable story. Her books have pioneered a new genre of animal mystery - pet noir. If you love animals and mysteries, you should never pass up the opportunity to read Clea Simon's novels." (S. Sasse, reviewer)
"The Ninth Life is one of Clea Simon's best novels yet, showcasing her talent for creating vibrant characters both human and animal and for developing an unforgettable story. Her books have pioneered a new genre of animal mystery - pet noir. If you love animals and mysteries, you should never pass up the opportunity to read Clea Simon's novels." (Crittermom - muttcafe.com)
"The Ninth Life is a unique mystery and I am definitely curious to see where the Clea Simon goes with the characters next." (Wendy R, reviewer)
"If Sherlock Holmes were a cat, this is the sort of cat he would be." (Jeanne, Bristol Public Library)
"We found The Ninth Life to be true edge-of-your-seat reading. The story is stark, as is the setting, yet Simon dots it all with moments of insight and small beauties that offer hope. We’re left feeling that as long as Care and Blackie have each other, they’ll somehow be okay. This story isn’t cute and cuddly, but oh, is it good! Highly recommended!" (Miss C - The Cuddlywumps Cat Chronicles)
THE NINTH LIFE is a tour through a criminal wilderness of alleys and gutters, guided by a hunter as canny and fierce as they come. While Care is a smart, tough, and vulnerable young protagonist, narrator Blackie steals the limelight, showing us these dark places through his sharp feline eyes. A good noir tale will reveal a shadowy existence that parallels our own; Clea Simon goes many steps beyond, creating a terrific story that draws us in and makes us relate to a narrator whose life is a world away from our own (Dana Cameron; multiple Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity award winner)
"Clea Simon has twisted my brain with this book. I have been taken to the dark, damp underbelly of a drug infested, money greedy, mob-like world. My tour-guide, a cat. Normally, this would sound silly to me, but Blackie is amazing. Anyone else telling the story would be all wrong. We would know nothing like we know had she written in a different narrator. My mind is blown by this angle and I love it. Brilliant Clea, just brilliant." (S Booth, reviewer)
Introducing Blackie, an unusual feline hero, and his companion Care in the first of this dark new mystery series.
Top customer reviews
By Clea Simon
Clea Simon caught my attention immediately when I started to read her new dark novel THE NINTH LIFE. We are introduced to the main characters right away, but we really don’t know anything about them. The thin, scrawny girl in her early teenage years cares almost too much about the group of street kids that have gathered to live, look out for each other, and wait for their next job.
He remembers nothing of his life when she saves him from the rushing water where he was drowning. Soaking wet and gasping for air, he is grateful to the pink haired girl who has saved him. When he recovers enough to look about, he sees that she is small and frail, and can hardly take care of herself, but she is determined to help a young boy she seems to love. The scrawny crowd she lives with out of fear, hunger, and companionship scares her. She wants to leave since men are chasing her, men that killed her mentor whom she is determined to avenge. The “old man” was a private investigator teaching her the trade. But the young boy Tick seems to be holding her back despite his pleas to go if that’s what she wants.
The saved one would like to go with her and protect her, but he realizes he is a cat, one who is aging. He straightens his body and licks his fur and is determined to go with her. He is so frustrated at times because he cannot express what he feels or what he wants or simple directions to the girl. He gives her credit for trying. He has named her Care, for that is what she shows him, whom she has named Blackie the cat, along with her mentor and Tick. She barely remembers her parents. She remembers more about the foster home where she met Tick. It is clear that Care is fond of Tick, but Blackie is certain that he cannot be trusted.
They walk the dirty streets scavenging food and shelter. Tick left the group on a dangerous “job”. Care and Blackie see him in the streets and then witness him at a distance delivering his message to some men at the back door of a jewelry store. When he turns to leave, the men he’s been talking to suddenly grab him and take him inside. Care is determined to follow the men who have Tick, and Blackie is determined to help her and keep her safe. The two small friends begin to search for Tick throughout their urban landscape. It is not a pretty journey but one through streets and dark alleys and dark places to hide.
Clea Simon grabbed me almost from inside the book and brought me into this story. If you love cats, as quite a number of her readers must since her books always seem to include them in some way or another, you are drawn in right away, as I was, when Blackie is being drowned by three shady men. I began to breathe again when Care saves Blackie from certain death when she saves him from the murderous men. I cringed when I witness the squalor Care and Tick had been living in. I am almost nauseous when Care is delighted to have found a chicken wing in the trash, which she shares with Blackie. I have to wonder how these two young creatures are going to survive let alone rescue Tick. Clea Simon shows no mercy or a hint of an answer until they reach it themselves. I said it rather early into the story that this book was mesmerizing. It remained that way through to the end.
Edgier than a traditional cozy mystery, Clea Simon’s The Ninth Life, is the first book in a new series featuring an untraditional hero: a cat. Yes, you read that right, the main character in this story is a cat named “Blackie”. A black furred cat rescued from drowning by a pink haired girl named “Care” (aka Carrie Wright). Unlike the traditional “cat” characters usually found in cozies, Blackie is intelligent, thinks in English, independent, concerned about the safety of the girl who saved him and very savvy when it comes to solving a mystery. A homeless girl, “Care” is unusual too – quickly forming a friendship with Blackie, she’s determined to find out what happened to her “mentor” – a private investigator who had been recently killed. If you want to try a captivating and different kind of mystery, then this is the book for you.
Ms. Simon does an excellent job introducing us to both primary characters, Blackie and Care, right from the start. I easily connected with both of them and worried about their safety as they conducted their investigation on streets filled with some real low life criminals – especially the ones who were somehow connected to the last case Care’s mentor, The Old Man, was investigating. Hoping to solve his murder, and maybe take over his business, Care definitely needs Blackie’s “cat senses” and instincts to stay safe. I liked how Ms. Simon humanized Blackie and how he devoted he is about keeping Care safe. He definitely knows who to trust, and who not to trust, before she does, though he is hampered by his “feline” abilities when it comes to communication.
The secondary characters are mostly criminals or people Care and Blackie can’t trust. There is one character Blackie and Care don’t agree on; Tick, a young man who Care feels responsible for. Blackie questions his loyalty from the start and doesn’t trust him because of something he senses but is unable to “talk” to her about. I admired Care’s desire to help Tick, but like Blackie, I sensed his divided loyalties and worried about whether or not he would betray her.
There are plenty of twists and turns to keep the reader guessing about what will happen next and what Blackie and Care will discover. The action takes place in the streets, back alleys and less savory parts of town, putting both Blackie and Care in dangerous situations as they deal with drug dealers, thieves, and murderers. While Blackie is a cat, and Care is a young teen, Ms. Simon covers some very dark and mature issues as a part of the stories plot.
Will Blackie and Care discover who killed “The Old Man”? Will Blackie be able to help Care find a home off the streets? You’ll have to read The Ninth Life to find out. I loved it and can’t wait to see where Ms. Simon takes these characters next.