THE CAT'S MEOW by Robert Campbell


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Another serving of Chicago-Irish charm with Runyonesque ""precinct captain"" Jimmy Flannery (The Junkyard Dog, etc.)--this time looking into strange doings at St. Pat's, a doomed, decaying Catholic church in a rundown parish. The first bad news is that the bishops have sold off the St. Pat's churchyard to a gas-station chain--which enrages Jimmy's political boss, Chips Delvin (whose kinfolk are buried there). Then, even more disturbing, there's a plea for help to Jimmy from stubborn, ancient Father Mulrooney, the priest at St. Pat's: Father M. has been bedeviled by what seems to be the ghost of his recently deceased cat! Is the priest senile? Or the victim of a hoax? Jimmy suspects the latter--especially since next door to St. Pat's is St. Ulric's Seminary for Boys. But, when Father Mulrooney is found dead, amidst signs of a satanic ritual, Jimmy widens his investigation--from the staff and boys of St. Ulric's to a local thief (oddly religious of late) and the dead priest's devoted, fearful housekeeper. Jimmy--a tersely amusing narrator--solves the mystery, of course. He also manages to save (via a mini-scam) the churchyard's sanctity. And, though the small-scale plot this time is less inventive and quirky than usual, Campbell again provides enough easygoing texture--Jimmy's endearing wife and father, a cluster of fine character-sketches at St. Ulric's--to make this bright, lightweight entertainment.

Pub Date: Oct. 24th, 1988
Publisher: New American Library