Cincinnati private eye Eli Paxton (The Trojan Colt, 2013, etc.) and his West Highland white terrier, Marlowe, get hired to find a cat worth a lot more than your cat.
Yes, yes, someone definitely did shoot Malcolm Pepperidge to death while he was taking advantage of a break in a late-night snowstorm to check out the stars from a telescope on his balcony. And since Pepperidge used to be Big Jim Palanto, financial adviser to the Chicago Mafia, whose retirement 15 years ago didn’t stop the police from recently inviting him to testify against his old intimates, there’s no shortage of suspects for the police to worry about. But as grieving widow Evangeline Pepperidge, formerly Velma Palanto, tells Eli, “Forget him!...Just find the fucking cat!” It seems that her beloved Fluffy ran off during the kerfuffle, and she’ll be inconsolable until her return. Or even after, as Eli realizes when his inquiries among local animal shelters disclose Fluffy’s whereabouts and he restores her to her distraught owner, only to be clapped in jail because the sorely missed feline is minus a bejeweled collar worth $10 million, or $1 million, or $100,000, depending whom you believe. Eli doesn’t own a GPS or a cellphone or a computer, but he knows how to make a deal, and in the course of this waggish, low-energy adventure, he strikes up ad hoc partnerships with his landlady, Ms. Cominsky; with Lt. Jim Simmons, of the Cincinnati Police; with Val Sorrentino, of the Chicago Mafia; with a trio of Bolivian gunmen who are just as interested in that cat collar as he is; and with several obliging jewelers, the most obliging of whom gets shot for his troubles.
Veteran Resnick provides smiles instead of laughs, vague bewilderment instead of mystery, and very limited doses of mostly offstage action. The results are guaranteed to keep your blood pressure well under control.