Miss Cuddlywumps reviews the mystery The Diamond Cat by Marian Babson
What does happen when a cat swallows a diamond? Author Marian Babson shows us one possibility in The Diamond Cat, a fun, amusing mystery set over a stormy holiday weekend.
Bettina, fortyish and single, is cat-sitting for four neighbors, much to the consternation of her cat-hating mother, Mrs. Bilby. I would not want to know Mrs. Bilby in real life, but as a character she is a perfect source of tension. She is the kind of human who refuses to be happy, preferring instead to be cynical, demanding, and overly critical. She is not all bad, though; she does seem to care for Bettina, and even for some of the cats, in her own begrudging way. Bettina, meanwhile, dreams of one day opening a cattery where she can board cats for paying clients and even have a cat of her own. But this is an “impossible dream” because she is thoroughly stuck under her mother’s pressing thumb.
There are some other humans in the story, but the really interesting characters are the cats. They are:
- Adolf, with a black patch of fur over half his face, one green eye, one yellow, a black nose and a small black mustache making him resemble a certain 20th-century German dictator, for whom he is named.
- Pasha, the unhappy Persian who is supposed to be a stud “worth his weight in diamonds” but is actually impotent.
- Enza, the independent little tabby who is expecting a litter of kittens.
- Bluebell, the blue-eyed Balinese belonging to Bettina’s best friend and next-door neighbor.
The cats are all tired of being shut up in the house, and so are happy when Mrs. Bilby opens the door (despite Bettina's protests) and lets them all outside. They are even more happy when they discover a dead pigeon on the patio but become less happy when Bettina takes the pigeon away from them. The bird has a small tube attached to its leg, meaning it is a carrier pigeon. Someone somewhere is waiting for their pigeon to come home, and Bettina realizes that particular someone must be especially anxious to find the bird, considering what is hidden in the tube: a fortune in diamonds.
Soon strange people are all over the neighborhood, wading through flooded yards, gazing at rooftops, knocking on doors. And then the first body is found and things get really interesting. All the while, Bettina has those diamonds in her pocket and has no idea what to do with them. Adolf knows what to do, though: He swallows a diamond and adds to Bettina’s troubles. Now she has to monitor him to make sure the diamond passes safely through.
Pasha mopes. Adolf obstinately refuses to pass the diamond. Bluebell, most unfortunately, discovers a second body. Next come tragedy, intrigue, threats, and resolution.