Dogged Detectives and Feline Fatales

Lawyer for the Cat book cover

They say people are either dog people or cat people and the same definitely goes for animal detective stories. You might not be aware of the cat and dog sub-genre of detective novels, but they are usually (although not exclusively) fun, light-hearted and a perfect pick me up read.

These novels come in many different forms. In some the cats or dogs are companions to the sleuths, in others they are the sleuths themselves, and occasionally our furry friends are the source of the mystery. So here for your edification and entertainment are some of the finest feline and Fido crime-solving capers. (And for some reason we couldn’t find a cat and dog detective duo but surely there’s one out there somewhere.)

Syndetics book coverThe purrfect murder / Rita Mae Brown & Sneaky Pie Brown ; illustrations by Michael Gellatly.
Rita Mae Brown has a huge, loyal following with Sneaky Pie Brown being her feline companion. She is best known for her fun, light-hearted detective novels such as The Purrfect Murder which will keep you both laughing and reading. Rita Mae Brown has also written for the screen, particularly horror movies, and published numerous non-fiction works on feminism and the civil rights movement in America – both movements she plays an active part in.

Syndetics book coverCat in a leopard spot : a Midnight Louie mystery / Carole Nelson Douglas.
A big game hunter is found dead and once again the feisty feline sleuth Midnight Louie leaps into action to solve the crime. This is the thirteenth instalment of this hugely popular series (currently twenty eight and still counting). Carole Nelson Douglas also writes several other series including the Irene Adler series and the Delilah Street, Paranormal Investigator series of novels.

Syndetics book coverLawyer for the cat : a novel / Lee Robinson.
Ace lawyer Sally Baynard is asked to represent Beatrice, the beneficiary of a multi-million dollar estate. It’s an everyday, commonplace case – only Beatrice is a black cat and other people have their eye on the money. As you would expect, Lawyer for the Cat features lots of good natured characters, many of them of a furry variety.

Syndetics book coverPaw and order : a Chet and Bernie mystery / Spencer Quinn.
Spencer Quinn’s seventh title in his New York Times bestselling series. Once again private eye Bernie and his canine companion and series narrator Chet set out to right wrongs and sniff out baddies. This time the detective duo is out to uncover a devilish plot in Washington D.C.

Syndetics book coverNew tricks / David Rosenfelt.
Another light-hearted canine detective series is David Rosenfelt’s Andy Carpenters series. New Tricks is a good example of his work: it revolves around the murder of a Bernese puppy-owner, and it’s up to irreverent defence attorney Andy Carpenter and his trusty golden retriever Tara to solve the case. Rosenfelt’s book is all very good natured and contains lots of laughs – perfect night cap book material.

Syndetics book coverSuspect / Robert Crais.
The final choice in this small selection of cat and dog detective books is an altogether more serious work: Robert Crais’s Suspect. Suspect deals with bereavement and the journey towards rebuilding one’s life and healing. LAPD cop Scott James is having to deal with the murder of his partner Stephanie whilst his new canine partner Maggie the German shepherd is back from three tours of Iraq and Afghanistan, where she lost her handler. It’s about how man’s best friend can form deep friendships that can help one to get over trauma.

Meow: New Books for Cat Lovers

Be wary of  exposure to cuteness when reading these books of cat humour, cat cartoons, and cat stories!

Syndetics book coverGrumpy Cat : a grumpy book / by Grumpy Cat.
“Internet sensation Grumpy Cat’s epic feline frown has inspired legions of devoted fans. Celebrating the grouch in everyone, the Grumpy Cat book teaches the fine art of grumpiness and includes enough bad attitude to cast a dark cloud over the whole world.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMetal cats
“Skulls and Siamese. Corpse paint and Persians. Baphomet, pentagrams, blood, and tabbies
” Metal Cats “combines two amazing subjects: the extreme personalities of the metal music scene and their adorable kitties. These incredibly cute and fluffly felines have been photographed with their loving owners in and around the dark abodes of over 100 musicians, fans, and promoters of metal including members of the bands Black Goat, Thrones, Isis, Lightning Swords of Death, Winterthrall, Wizards of Wor, The Cauterized, Book of Black Earth, Skarp, Harassor, Akimbo, Aldebaran, Atriarch, Oak, Ghoul, Ludicra, Holy Grail, Xasthur, Cattle Decapitation, Murder Construct, Exhumed, Anhedonist, Morbid Angel, Municipal Waste, Skeletonwitch, Gypsyhawk, Nausea, Phobia, Napalm Death.
The metal scene is known for its love of dark, depressing, and disturbing imagery and ideas, and its fans are often characterized as violent, hateful, and misanthropic. “Metal Cats” is hard evidence that while the music may be brutal, the people in the scene are softies for their pets just like you and me. A portion of the proceeds from this book and a series of benefit shows held along the West Coast will go towards one no-kill shelter in each of the four main cities visited.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCity cat / Kate Banks ; pictures by Lauren Castillo.
“An easy-to-read book about a globe-trotting cat that crosses paths with a vacationing family in the great cities of Europe. Includes facts about the cities.” (Book summary)

Overdrive cover I Could Pee on This, by Francesco Marciuliano (eBook)
“Cat lovers will laugh out loud at the quirkiness of their feline friends with these insightful and curious poems from the singular minds of housecats. In this hilarious book of tongue-in-cheek poetry, the author of the internationally syndicated comic strip Sally Forth helps cats unlock their creative potential and explain their odd behavior to ignorant humans. With titles like “Who Is That on Your Lap?,” “This Is My Chair,” “Kneel Before Me,” “Nudge,” and “Some of My Best Friends Are Dogs,” the poems collected in I Could Pee on This perfectly capture the inner workings of the cat psyche. With photos of the cat authors throughout, this whimsical volume reveals kitties at their wackiest, and most exasperating (but always lovable).” (Overdrive description)

Syndetics book coverLiving with cats : a commonsense guide [electronic resource] / Dr Hugh Wirth.
“For almost thirty years Dr Hugh Wirth has been an ABC Local Radio pet expert, answering listeners? questions on everything from how to deal with a cat?s hunting instinct to the best way to clean their teeth. Whenever Dr Hugh is on the air, the switchboard becomes jammed with callers wanting his advice on their particular pet dilemma. In this practical, commonsense book on living with and caring for cats, Hugh covers all the topics that cat owners need to know, from choosing a breed to behaviour and health. The book also includes an extensive Q&A section, based on ABC Local Radio listener questions.” (Library Catalogue)

Syndetics book coverThe pet project : cute and cuddly vicious verses / written by Lisa Wheeler ; illustrated by Zachariah OHora.
“This one comes with a warning: Animals aren’t always charming. When the girl in this picture book of rhymed poems asks her parents for a pet, the science-minded folk suggest she do her research first. Good idea. Armed with notebook and pen, she meets a cow who looks peaceful, but upon closer inspection / she seemed sort of mean / nudging me into the mud. Next up are a kicking pony, a pooping dove, and a dead goldfish. Throughout, animals are test subjects, and her observations appear periodically on lined notebook paper. After a series of disappointments, our gal comes to an important conclusion: she is not a kid cut out for too much pet responsibility. She is the kind of kid who settles on a microscope to view teeny tiny beasties. Wheeler’s simple poems are fun and funny, and they introduce a wide variety of critters. OHora’s thickly lined acrylic illustrations add to the entertainment, with a bespectacled, science-minded girl (yay!) at the helm and humorous interpretations of animals, set on white pages. Also, this one might talk kids out of wanting a pet. You’re welcome.–Kelley, Ann Copyright 2010 BooklistFrom Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.” (Booklist)

Overdrive cover Cat Sense, by John Bradshaw (eBook)
“Cats have been popular household pets for thousands of years, and their numbers only continue to rise. Today there are three cats for every dog on the planet, and yet cats remain more mysterious, even to their most adoring owners. In Cat Sense, renowned anthrozoologist John Bradshaw takes us further into the mind of the domestic cat than ever before, using cutting-edge scientific research to explain the true nature—and needs—of our feline friends. Tracing the cat’s evolution from solitary hunter to domesticated companion, Bradshaw shows that cats remain independent, predatory, and wary of social contact, qualities that often clash with the demands of our modern lifestyles. If we’re to live in harmony with cats, Bradshaw contends, we first need to understand and adapt to their ancient quirks. A must-read for any cat lover, Cat Sense challenges our most basic assumptions about cats and promises to dramatically improve their lives—and ours.” (Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Simon’s Cat vs. The World!, by Simon Tofield (eBook)
“In the four years since Simon’s Cat first leapt in to our lives he has starred in more than 15 films, appeared in three best-selling books and has entertained and delighted millions of fans across the world. Along the way he has swotted flies, pulled down Christmas trees, and generally terrorised his long-suffering owner, Simon. And for the most part, he has had things his way. Until now. This year the nation’s favourite cat faces up to his toughest challenge yet. With a new kitten in the house, a new girlfriend for Simon and endless new visitors to the garden, it is time to reassert his position – once and for all – as the undisputed Top Cat.” (Overdrive description)

Syndetics book coverHow to choose and care for your cat“The comprehensive, handy guide to choosing and caring for your cat. Discover the cat throughout history and culture, its anatomy, appearance and behaviour, and take in a wealth of practical advice on how to choose a cat, care, health, breeding, and showing your cat. Information on evolution and classification is also included.”(Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe world according to Bob:the further adventures of one man and his street-wise cat
“Since Bob had appeared, I’d made huge strides in my life. For more than a decade I’d been a homeless drug addict. I’d been lost to the world and forgotten what was important in life. Now I’d got myself back on my two feet, but as I put the past behind me, I was still stepping unsteadily into the future. I still needed help in the right direction. Bob was always there to offer guidance and friendship. James and his street cat Bob have been on a remarkable journey together. In the years since their story ended in the bestselling A STREET CAT NAMED BOB James, with Bob’s help, has begun to find his way back to the real world. Almost every day, Bob provides moments of intelligence, bravery and humour, at the same time opening his human friend’s eyes to important truths about friendship, loyalty, trust – and the meaning of happiness.” (

Overdrive cover Cats Are Weird, by Jeffrey Brown (eBook)
“Cartoonist Jeffrey Brown’s drawings perfectly capture the humor and quirkiness of cats in all their strange and charming glory. Following the success of Cat Getting Out of a Bag, this collection of color and black-and-white comic strips loosely follows the adventures of a pair of cats as they explore the world around them, indoors and out. Adventures include taking a nap, licking a shoe, attacking dust particles, hiding in cabinets, pouncing on fallen leaves, confronting the vacuum cleaner, patrolling the yard, and purring up a stormall adorably rendered in Brown’s immediate and irresistible style. Sure to delight anyone who lives with cats and appreciates their sweet and batty behavior, this beautifully packaged gift book is the cat’s meow.” (Overdrive description)

Home, Garden & DIY Blog May

This month’s blog features expert tips for growing vegetables and saving money on groceries, creative ideas for home decoration, sewing, and kids parties. Also check out the vibrant paintings of the kiwi lifestyle by New Zealand artist Graham Young.

Syndetics book coverCrops in pots / Rachelle Strauss ; foreword by Pippa Greenwood.
“Like the idea of growing your own fruit, veg and herbs but don’t have the room or energy? “Crops in Pots” is a user-friendly guide to getting a taste of self-sufficiency, growing wherever you can grab the space – whether it be your patio, balcony or window sill. Apart from the many joys of growing your own food, the benefits of container gardening are manifold: accessibility, portability, soil choice, easier pest and disease control…Find out how to get started and choose your pots, how to grow and harvest – including the most appropriate crops for small spaces, how to deal with problems and lots of great tips on how to be successful on a shoestring.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHome / Beci Orpin.
“A unique craft book that is guaranteed to brighten your home and your life. HOME, the latest book by design guru Beci Orpin, is filled with inspirational ideas and unique craft projects specially designed for your home. Separated into three spatial areas-living space, working space, and sleeping space-HOME will inspire you to create original, fresh, and unique crafts for all the important spaces in your house. Each chapter is filled with full-color photographs and quirky illustrations by Beci, as well as excellent tips and ideas for beautifying your home. At the end of each section is a collection of projects created especially for this book, each with a varying level of difficulty but always ensuring there is something for everyone. Have a go at sewing your own bold-colored cushions or a geometric-pattern duvet cover. Grow and design your own succulent garden or learn the skills to repurpose an old chair. Be inspired to design your own wall art or perfect your workspace with carefully designed, space-saving techniques that are both beautiful and functional. Suitable for both established and aspiring crafters, HOME will inspire you to make and create objects and artwork that will enhance your living space and make you fall in love with your home all over again.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLazy days : painting the Kiwi lifestyle / Graham Young.
“The vibrant paintings in this gorgeous book capture that bright sparkling quality of our New Zealand light. Graham Young portrays elements of the Kiwi lifestyle against a backdrop of familiar landscape – the corner dairy, old baches on the coast, boatsheds, villas and country barns. There is always evidence of people in these paintings, which are presented in the form of a journey through everyday culture – there is nothing highbrow about the art shown here. Graham is fascinated by signposts of the past, the architectural heritage of our towns and disused agricultural machinery hidden in long grass on older farms. He comments about his paintings, which are grouped loosely together to reflect place and scene: beach and coast, town and country. Visitors and New Zealanders alike will enjoy this evocative collection depicting the laid-back Kiwi lifestyle.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverStylish kids’ parties : recipes & decorations for 12 festive occasions / Kelly Rohlfs Lyden.
“Your favorite party hostess, Kelly Lyden, makes it a snap to plan, design and execute festive kids’ parties that wow adults and thrill little ones! Filled with 12 creative and colorful party ideas, Stylish Kids’ Parties shows you how to confidently tackle party preparation by using color palettes and themes that carry through–from invitations and decorations to party favors and treats. Complete with DIY tips, recipes, projects, themed activities and templates, you’ll love these party ideas for boys and girls, first birthday celebrations, baby showers and holiday gatherings.” (

Syndetics book cover150 best kitchen ideas / [editor and texts Montse Borras, Aitana Lleonart].
“New ideas on how to design, build, and decorate a kitchen are always of essential value to architects, designers, and homeowners. This new addition to a successful series offers an extensive collection of both modern and traditional kitchen designs from all over the world, plans devised by distinguished international architects and designers who have worked to achieve practical, innovative, and stunning solutions adapted to the specific needs and particular tastes of their clients. An exciting compilation, “150 Best Kitchen Ideas” expresses the diversity of current trends in kitchen design focusing on decor–materials, lighting, colors, and windows–and specifics such as tables, wall units, flooring, appliances, and countertops. It is an inspirational source of ideas for those active in the field of design or interested in updating the focal point of their homes.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCharles Dowding’s veg journal : expert no-dig advice, month by month / Charles Dowding.
“The book uses the seasonal checklists, advice and hard-won experience of the UK’s best-known no-dig gardener to plan a year’s veg growing. The information is taken from the author’s successful Charles Dowding Vegetable Course and arranged in a useful monthly journal so that no activity is overlooked and readers can follow his mantra of ‘little and often’. In this book Charles Dowding proves the efficacy of no-dig gardening, and using step by steps guidance with photos shows how to plan a veg garden, construct a raised bed, sow seed indoors and outdoors in spring, grow on young crops, protect his plants from the weather and pests through the season until he celebrates the joy of harvesting.” (Library catalogue)

Syndetics book cover40 projects for building your backyard homestead : a hands-on, step-by-step sustainable-living guide / David Toht.
“Provides details on how to build more than 40 projects–sheds, feeders, fences, and other structures–to enhance readers’ sustainable living.” (Abridged from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBudget bytes : over 100 easy, delicious recipes to slash your grocery bill in half / Beth Moncel.
“Moncel launched her blog, Budget Bytes (, after economic recession forced her to adopt a strict food budget. The recipes in her new cookbook, some adapted from the blog, are written for novices who value variety as much as saving money. Many cost less than a dollar per serving, and while they rely heavily on inexpensive staples, they incorporate flavorful seasonings and garnishes. Moncel includes freezer and pantry stocking tips, sample menus, and an index of vegetarian and vegan recipes. Verdict? Though great for budget-conscious young adults, Moncel’s debut is less useful than her website, as several great features (e.g., cost breakdowns, cooking times) have been lost in translation.” (Library Journal)

Syndetics book coverSewing with letters : using your favourite words & fonts / Nicola Tedman & Sarah Skeate.
“Words and letters have never been more popular used as decoration around the home everyday objects are blossoming with everything from single characters in a bold san-serif to words and phrases in elegant calligraphic faces.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDreaming small : intimate interiors / Douglas Woods ; photography by Melba Levick.
“The masterpieces of small-house living featured here will serve as inspiration to those who struggle with the challenges presented by contemporary life in petite-size homes. “Dreaming Small” is a celebration of jewel-box homes, each marked by a sense of style that marries eclecticism, practicality, beauty, and livability. From quintessential bungalows and classic casas to Tudor fantasies, these delightful abodes are models of rich diversity and inspired living. In brilliant new photography, the book explores the possibilities that exist in these mostly unpublished gems by legendary architects Irving Gill, Richard Neutra, Rudolph Schindler, and Paul R. Williams, among others. The houses, each under two thousand square feet, are examples of what is possible in the small house and offer the reader a colorful palette of ideas from which to artfully transform spaces into comfortable, contemporary living.
Some homes featured here are period-perfect time capsules, harkening back to the ’20s, ’30s, and ’40s, while others embrace the new and are entirely of today. All are a testament to how a well-designed house can wonderfully serve the needs of the twenty-first century. In an age where many are downsizing, this book will be welcomed. While showcasing a mix of homes, it emphasizes light, bright, and inspiring interiors that are beyond distinct architectural styles. The trend of reviving old houses will continue to grow steadily, and this book will be inspirational for those looking to do it right.” (Syndetic summary)

Book about a world-famous street cat

Amazon cover linkA street cat named Bob / James Bowen.
Whenever the world gets you down it’s very heartening to read a real feel-good book with a happy ending – boy comes right, cat comes right. James Bowen was a recovering heroin addict living in a rundown housing project in London when he nursed an injured cat back to health. This was no ordinary cat but a very handsome ginger tom with a geat deal of character and intelligence. When James tried to release him back onto the streets he resisted firmly and insisted on accompanying him wherever he went, riding on his shoulder on the Tube, on the buses and in the street. James is a busker and the cat, wearing a variety of knitted scarves and bandanas, became a real attraction. He has been constantly photographed and videoed and his YouTube presentations have gone viral around the world. Both James and Bob have appeared on BBC and the Richard and Judy show,and hosted many book launches at prestigious shops, Bob often being requested to add his paw-mark to James’s signature. It is easy to get sentimental about animals but Bob does seem to be an extraordinary cat and James credits him with saving his life, His story is direct, simple and very appealing.

Update: Busking cat is heading to Hollywood