Miss Cuddlywumps reviews the story “Little Miracles” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
In detective stories with cats, the cat is not always the hero. Sometimes the cat is a victim, sometimes the cat is a clue, sometimes the cat is even more. In Kristine Kathyrn Rusch’s “Little Miracles,” the cat is victim, clue, and miracle.
A detective named Frank examines a violent scene: four humans murdered, one cat near death with its throat cut. Normally Frank is a great detective, top-notch, but right now he’s not quite himself because his wife has left him. Also there are all those years of looking at and thinking about violence and death, and that will take a toll on a person. Fortunately for Frank there is this white cat with an orange mustache who survives and becomes the clue that is the key to the crime. (Yes, the cover shows a different sort of cat, but I am going with what is in the story.)
At first Frank is uncomfortable about the cat, now named Rip because of the awful thing that happened to him. The detective knows how to question a human survivor, but a cat? Rip is friendly: When Frank visits the little victim at the vet clinic, the cat, still groggy from medication, rolls over for him, “paws kneading the empty air.” Frank spontaneously decides he will keep the cat after it is released from the vet’s. (Who wouldn’t?)
I will not tell you any more of the story, but you should know that it is not a cozy tale like I usually read. She of Little Talent picked it because she is a fan of Rusch’s Retrieval Artist sci-fi mystery series (old SoLT is weird in many ways and this is one of them—she gets a kick out of the odd aliens in the series). The story is more bleak than I like, and at first I was upset that the cat showed up with its throat cut in the very first paragraph. I was glad we kept reading though, because Rip, besides being a victim and a clue, becomes the thing that helps Frank come to life again. So the cat is a miracle in more ways than one.
[“Little Miracles” has been published in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, Little Miracles & Other Tales (Kristine Kathryn Rusch), and Feline Felonies (edited by Abigail Browning). The story is now available as an e-book.]