Miss Cuddlywumps reviews The No. 2 Feline Detective Agency by Mandy Morton
The No. 2 Feline Detective Agency is a mystery for those who dream of a world run by cats. In it, cats wear clothes (including high fashion called “Hoot Cature”), drive cars … and at least one of them runs a detective agency. That feline detective is Hettie Bagshot, a tabby with a new career and cash-flow problems. She is assisted by Tilly, an arthritic cat with a “vertically challenged tail.” Tilly enjoys cardigans—a lot (and really, who doesn’t like a nice warm cardigan?).
We meet this duo when they get their very first case. It seems three dead cats have gone missing from the Furcross home for slightly older cats and the matron, Marcia Woolcoat, wants them found and returned. The fact that the bodies were apparently stolen from their graves after burial is most distressing to Marcia, an overweight ginger cat “with at least three chins.” Such a crime takes some of the dignity out of Furcross’s “Dignicat” service, an option whereby one of those slightly older cats can choose to end his or her time on earth in a comfortable and dignified manner.
In desperate need of cash, Hettie takes the case, but later, over a catnip pipe or two (or three), she realizes she has no idea how to solve it. Fortunately, Hettie and Tilly get a break when the bodies of three cats are discovered. All Hettie has to do is collect the bodies (which are in fact the ones she has been hired to find), return them to Furcross, and collect her fee. Only the bodies have not merely been stolen; they have been tampered with, having nearly all their fur shorn off. Hettie has no idea why that might have been done … or who might have done it. So she hasn’t really solved anything yet.
Soon enough, the suspicious death of Furcross’s nurse adds to the mystery, and Hettie finds herself spending a lot of time at Furcross, investigating, interviewing, and eating (and stashing little tidbits into her pockets for later). This case is more complicated than she ever imagined, and being a detective is more difficult than she expected.
We had fun with this book. Occasionally the prose seemed to wander off the plot and go into extraneous detail, but we think that is largely forgivable, because there is just something delightful about the world the author is describing. This is an imagined world in which cats run little shops and have careers in music, fashion, television, and plumbing, and we found plenty of things to chuckle over (Tabby Wynette’s “Stand by Your Van,” for example).
Once in a while She of Little Talent reads a book and says, “I wish I’d thought of that!” The No. 2 Feline Detective Agency is one of those books. We look forward to reading more of Hettie’s adventures.