Miss Cuddlywumps reviews Panthers Play for Keeps by Clea Simon
You know how every once in a while you hear about someone stumbling across a dead body while walking their dog? Well, that is what happens to Pru Marlowe on the first page of Panthers Play for Keeps. Only the dog, a shepherd mix named Spot, is no ordinary dog; Pru is training him to be a service dog for a man who’s losing his sight. And Pru is no ordinary human; she is able to hear animals’ thoughts and send them her own. And finally, the body is no ordinary body; it belongs to a woman who worked for the man Spot is being trained for, and it has been horribly mauled by a large wild cat that simply should not be in the woods where it apparently is.
With Spot’s help, Pru begins tracking down the truth about what happened to the victim. She also has invaluable help from Wallis, the tabby cat who lives with her. Wallis is my kind of cat: bluntly honest and unsentimental. Spot, as I said, is a dog with a job; he is stalwart and duty-driven. Spot is the kind of dog you want with you when the world gets scary and unpredictable, and with two women dead, a mysterious animal that may or may not be a cougar, an unidentified murderer who may or may not have his or her sights set on Pru, and personal issues of the boyfriend variety … well, let’s just say Pru really needs this dog.
The plot is complex and compelling, especially for anyone who cares about animals. We raced to the end to find out what would happen to that cougar that may or may not be some other sort of creature. And Pru Marlowe is a character we enjoyed getting to know. She is the kind of person who charges ahead to do what she thinks might perhaps maybe be the right thing, even when she’s wrong—and she is wrong a lot of the time, as most of you humans are. We’d like to have a beer with Pru (except we don’t drink beer, so maybe a nice lemonade) and listen to her stories of various sorts of trouble she’s gotten into. Also, She of Little Talent really enjoyed Pru’s car, something called a GTO, in baby blue.
Story and character aside, our favorite part of this book was the communication between Pru and the animals. This element of the story felt very real, largely because Pru so often misinterpreted what Spot, Wallis, and the others were trying to tell her. The inter-species communication wasn’t at all like a straightforward conversation. It was difficult, and often confusing for the characters. This is exactly what we imagine such communication would actually be like, because we animals and you humans don’t see the world in quite the same way, do we?
We enjoyed Panthers Play for Keeps so much, it gets an enthusiastic
Be sure to visit author Clea Simon to learn more about this book and her many others.