Not your ordinary detective story: in this 1989 German first novel of murder, mutilation, and vengeance, the victims, the detective, the killer, and the suspects are all cats. Soon after Francis, the fastidious narrator, is brought to a new neighborhood by his dimwitted owner Gustav, he finds the gruesomely slashed corpse of another cat and learns from his crippled friend Bluebeard that Sascha is only the latest victim of a killer who's claimed at least three others. Francis's further investigations--his meetings with computer-literate Pascal and ``satanic mammoth'' Kong; his inadvertent peek at a rally, highlighted by the faithful's repeated plunges into electrical currents, venerating the mythic ancestor Claudandus; his discovery of Professor Julius Preterius' ten- year-old journal record of fiendish experiments on cats; and his sickening plunge into a hidden shrine of corpses that reveals that the killer has dispatched hundreds of victims--only deepen the mystery for his fellow felines, though human readers will detect unnerving parallels with Nazi experiments in eugenics and their poisonous political legacy. Though the identification of the murderer may seem anticlimactic, the mysteries of motivation lead to a darkly effective conclusion. What begins as a homicidal Watership Down eventually resonates with echoes of GÅnter Grass, Umberto Eco, Hitchcock, and Spiegelman. Calling this powerfully imagined parable a cat book is like describing Maus as a comic strip for people who like mice.