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Reviewed by Grant Leishman for Readers' Favorite
When the musical Cats meets Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe is probably where the alternative universe created by author Chip Weinert in A Curious Cat in a Dead Dog’s Town intersects with reality. Duke Hazzard is hard-bitten, hard-up, and cynical cat who loves surfing and would much rather be a private eye than get a “real job”, as his mother so subtly puts it. Duke operates out of the aptly named CatsCamp which is separated from its twin town Dogstown by the Butt River. When the gorgeous, but imminently suspicious Siamese feline Gloria hires Duke to investigate who killed her dog husband and owner of the famous local dog biscuit factory, Duke just can’t help suspecting that Gloria and her lover may, in fact, be the perpetrators of this heinous crime. Duke, a true coward by inclination, is up against some heavyweight opposition to his investigations. Not only does he have to negotiate a fractious relationship with the local Sheriff, a crusty old bear called Ursalik, but he has all manner of mean and nasty dogs on his tail, determined to make him think twice about investigating this case. That’s not even to mention the Katz brothers, two dangerous and volatile felines who are supposedly on his side in this story.
Few stories capture your imagination quite like A Curious Cat in a Dead Dog’s Town captured mine as a reader. Good comedy is extremely hard to write and author Chip Weinert has done an amazing job in capturing the essence of human foibles and frailties and transferring them into the animal kingdom. There are not many belly-laughs in the narrative but there is an awful lot of chuckling and nodding of the head in recognition of the clever points the author has brought out through comedy. One of the highlights of the story, without a doubt, is the constant stream of radio commercials that runs through the narrative. They are genuinely funny and original. I did enjoy that aspect very much. I particularly enjoyed the nod to that famous television detective, Colombo, in Duke’s interrogation technique. Disheveled and seemingly incompetent, he always appeared to not really care what the person had to say and then, just as he was leaving, would turn back and ask the leading question he was seeking an answer to, exactly like Colombo would have done. The characters were all over-developed and to the extreme, which was exactly what the narrative and the premise of the story required and the writing style was easy to read and understand. This is an exceptionally enjoyable and genuinely funny read that I highly recommend.