Friday, September 07, 2007

Death of a Stray Cat - Jean Potts

First published 1956; cover shown is the 1961 Penguin Books (UK) paperback edition. 185p. Cover art by Romek Marber.

The stray cat of the title is Marcella, a woman who could not live without a man in her life to take care of her - and a woman who, according to Potts, 'seemed to arouse brutality and cruelty in men'.

When Marcella's body is found in Alex and Gem's beach side holiday house, there are no shortage of suspects. Marcella had a string of lovers, past and current. They included Alex - something his wife Gem isn't aware of until the body is found - Walt, an alcoholic light fitting salesman, and Jimmy, her no-good husband.

While Gem hotfoots it back to New York, stunned by the news that Alex has had an affair, Walt is arrested by Ed Fuller, the small holiday town's chief of police. Alex drowns his sorrows in drink with his friends Brad and Dwight. When a second body turns up - this time the town's odd job man who was working at Alex's holiday house - Gem makes the decision to investigate Marcella's death herself.

Like all of Potts' work, this is extremely readable. The characters ring true, and apart from a predictable killer and also the unbelievably short amount of time it took for Gem to forgive her husband's infidelity (and in fact, by the end it's made out that it's natural for husbands to have affairs "now and then"), the story itself rockets along at a nice, fast pace.

1 comment:

Emrayfo said...

I have a copy of this book with the same cover. Nice review!