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THE ADVENTURES OF THISTLEDOWN COPPERBOTTOM

A cat detective and his human

By Fiona Gregory, editor

Aug 7, 2010: Thistledown Copperbottom is a unique cat in several ways. One is that he can talk – although he doesn’t share that with just anyone. Another is that he wants to solve crimes. Being that he’s still passing as a normal cat in today’s society, this takes dedication – for the cause, he even submits to being put in a harness! But even so, he has to delegate some detective duties to his human, Tabitha.

Being a multiple cat owner like myself, I’m sure the author is aware that they come in as many varieties of personality as humans – from the stereotypical aloof and independant (aka "snotty") to super-clingy and affectionate. For Thistledown’s personality, she’s gone for the former; which is the way cats are almost always depicted in literature. I guess I do find that a bit stereotypical, though not unreasonable. In fact, Thistle is a bit of a shit where Tabitha is concerned, although fiercely loyal to his buddy Fritz the Jack Russell terrier. (So here we’re turning the stereotypical cats vs. dogs antagonism on its head, which pet owners will also know is the case as often as not). Anyway, there is plenty of time to develop more nuances into Thistle’s character in subsequent episodes. Meanwhile, Tabitha, a free spirit with a few boyfriend, job, and frustrated artist issues, is an appealing character herself.

This is going to be a series of short mystery novellas starring Thistledown and Tabitha. So far one has been completed (with a wonderful title, The Cat in Cougar Country). From previous comments, I know the author is deliberately attemping to rein her writing talents into succinct, self-contained tales rather than epics that drag on forever. This is to be commended, but the challenge with the mystery format will be in allowing enough clues to be laid in along with the red herrings to give the reader a fair chance at guessing whodunit without it being obvious. In this first story, a reader did put forward an accurate guess, but her intuition was, I believe, based more on a plot device (who would the protagonist probably least suspect?) than any evidence interwoven into the story itself.

Be that as it may, this series is already living up to the fun potential of its premise , and L.M. Bricker always comes up with interesting ideas, so I would say this is one to watch. There is also a great reason to support this serial, if one is so inclined, any donations raised by the stories will go toward the upkeep of sixteen needy cats.

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