In a Cat’s Eye
Willy’s an ex-con. He’s behind on his rent, not too bright, and crushing big-time on Nancy, a fellow resident of the flophouse known as The Morpheum. When Nancy is found dead of an apparent suicide the night after she and Willy have dinner, Willy believes foul play is to blame. But who could have done it, and escaped from a locked apartment? Every resident of the Morpheum seems to have secrets and their own agenda, but Willy vows to uncover them all and solve Nancy’s murder.
In a Cat’s Eye is a book with lots of potential. There’s a solid setting, an intriguing cast of ne’er-do-wells to populate The Morpheum, and the protagonist isn’t your run of the mill know-it-all detective type. Willy is certainly not a Sherlock Holmes.
But some of Willy’s actions make him a troublesome protagonist. It’s incredibly difficult to root for a character who considers burning a cat with a cigarette to teach it a lesson, no matter how uninformed or misguided Willy’s upbringing has been. That moment pretty much turned me against Willy for the remainder of the book.
That’s not to say there’s nothing to recommend here. My favorite aspect of the novel is undoubtedly the old wives’ tale that gives the book its title. One of my all-time favorite urban legends or old folktales, it adds a nice supernatural touch to the proceedings, as well as some psychological twists to the whodunit framework.
There’s an attention to minutia here as well, offering lots of nuance and little touches to Willy’s world. But some crucial things get left out, like any reference after the fact to Willy getting pushed into a river, or why he bothers to hide finding a can of paint thinner, when doing so only makes him more of a suspect.
In a Cat’s Eye has its issues, but it also shows great promise for potential works to come.
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|Mystery, Crime, Thriller