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Pseudonymous Kane’s debut shows what happens when the guardians of the mean streets are a bull terrier and a Siamese cat.

Whatever has become of all the humans absent from Det. Max (Crusher) McNash’s world, they’ve certainly left their mark. Crusher, divorced by the wife who thought he was doing a lousy job of raising their five pups, wears clothing, frequents bars, appreciates attractive pooches and treasures a night at the boxing arena watching feral Zeus Katsopoulos challenge Rocky Cerberus. By the time he gets to see this fateful match, however, Crusher is already paw-deep in pursuit of a serial killer, a cat of preternatural size and power who’s terrorizing dogs across the city. When Crusher’s best witness, Flasha Lightning, not only refuses to say anything specific but keeps running away, Chief Kaiser Kessler calls in Cassius Lap of the Feline Bureau of Investigation. Like the salt-and-pepper rapport of the suavely manipulative Siamese and the blunt bull terrier, innumerable details of plot, setting and characterization evoke a fictional universe in which cops and criminals aren’t exactly cats and dogs but aren’t exactly people either. Kane inventively revisits every feature of the hardboiled genre: tone, diction, slang, back stories, detective routines and wisecracking puns (some of them real groaners, like Shakespaw’s classic play The Great Dane). Rumors that the case involves media magnate Phineas Reynard’s attempt to extend his political power through species conditioning nudge the story from parody to the bolder, more perilous mode of contemporary satire.

Not the tightest mystery you’ve ever read, but unquestionably a tour de force.

Pub Date: July 1st, 2009
ISBN: 978-1-4165-9641-7
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Scribner
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 2009