A note about The Cuddlywumps Chronicles

This blog is written and maintained by Miss Cuddlywumps, a fluffy-tailed calico cat who is both classically educated and familiar with mysteries. She receives creative input from the Real Cats and clerical assistance from She of Little Talent (old SoLT, a.k.a. Roby Sweet). Comments or complaints should be addressed to Miss C rather than to old SoLt (Ms. Sweet). Ms. Sweet accepts no responsibility for Miss C's opinions.

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Man Who Killed for a Cat

Miss Cuddlywumps reviews the story “The Nile Cat” by Edward D. Koch

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“The Nile Cat” is a very short story (a mere four pages in the printing we read) about a murderer who is a little bit nuts. Professor Patrick J. Bouton is not the dangerous kind of crazy killer. He is more the mild-mannered sort whose actions make you ask “You did what?” and “You did it because what?”

We first meet Bouton in the Egyptian Room of the museum he works for. He is wondering how he will clean his clothes of the blood from the unfortunate man he has just killed. He makes no effort to escape or to conceal his actions, and we learn why as he explains himself to the detective, Fritz, who questions him. It all has to do with a very special cat.

The Nile Cat is an ancient Egyptian statue. It is “a beautiful thing, twelve inches high and made of bronze, with large ruby eyes set deep into the head.” It is the centerpiece of the museum’s modest Egyptian collection. Bouton will do anything—anything—to protect it. He becomes desperate when he learns the Nile Cat is about to be sold to another museum. And so he concocts a plan. A plan that is nuts. (I am putting the details of the plan at the very end of this post, so if you'd rather read the story for yourself, just skip the bottom few lines.)

This story is well written and is an enjoyable, engaging read. It isn’t a cozy and doesn’t have an actual feline character, but it does have a fictional Egyptian feline artifact and so …

[“The Nile Cat” (1969) has appeared in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and the anthology Feline Felonies, edited by Abigail Browning.]

Spoiler: The Plan

 Bouton’s plan is to bash someone over the head with the Nile Cat, thus making the statue a murder weapon. Then the cat will be tied up, so to speak, during his trial and appeals. The narrow window of opportunity for the sale will close while the object is tied up, and so no sale will take place. The Nile Cat will be in the museum and Professor Bouton will be in prison, because he is a little bit nuts.

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