Miss Petunias Last Case by Marian Babson
Ever since Robert Altman had that clever ginger tom leading Philip Marlowe such a dance in his screen adaptation of Raymond Chandlers "The Long Goodbye" Ive been partial to cat content in association with crime. There is plenty in "Miss Petunias Last Case".
The two beautiful she-cats on the cover of the book belong to Lorinda Lucas, author of crime novels featuring Miss Petunia Pettifog, and are called respectively Had I and But Known. There is also a huge orange tomcat called Roscoe whose owner is Macho Magee, fellow crime writer - and who, always in pursuit of the two lady cats, makes a practice of becoming jammed in the their cat flap. The antics of their owners also provide endless amusement as they make an occupation of indulging their pets with gourmet cat food and tasty titbits which they manage to spirit away from the trays passed around at the various parties and gatherings held by their colleagues.
For here, in the sleepy and unspoiled little village of Brimfull Coffers, several authors and other members of the literary establishment have gathered together and have taken up residence in various desirable little cottages or in flats in Coffers Court, a very impressive late Victorian building which dominates one corner of the village Green.
But Lorinda and others begin to wonder whether such a gathering of supposedly like minds has been really such a good idea as quarrels and feuds and intrigues surface and the peace and quiet of Brimfull Coffers is disturbed by several nasty accidents - the first at a Bonfire Party when Jack Jackley, taking yet more unwelcome photographs for his record of a year in the life of a literary community, falls (or is pushed) on to the bonfire - and finally murder. For several of the authors, themselves considering murder of a kind - namely dumping their existing alter-egos - real events become frighteningly fused with their compositions on the page. The net of suspicion is cast wide and the eventual exposing of the culprit comes as a great surprise. Cats, cocktail parties, food, writers and their habits and mores and a good murder mystery - this is an extremely entertaining book. It is witty and funny and a hugely enjoyable read.