When the Cat’s Away

I’ve just finished reading When the Cat’s Away by Gilbert Morris. Even though Morris is well-known in Christian circles, it was the first work I’d read of his and I found myself enjoying the story—even though it was the third book of a trilogy (I didn’t know that when I got it!)

The reason I bought the book to begin with is that I had the opportunity to meet Gilbert in Tuscaloosa, Alabama last year at the Deep South Christian Writers Conference where he was the keynote speaker. I sat up front—as I try to always do—during his presentation on building characters, and then when he was done he popped down and sat at my table. After he signed a few autographs, we began to chat and I discovered he was, if not a fan, certainly knowledgeable about comic books. Well, we hit it off and had a nice conversation even when we should have been listening. J I doubt he’d remember my name, if that’s what you’re wondering…but he might remember “the comic book guy.”

So I came away both impressed by him and by his character building workshop and decided to put his name on my list of “pick up something from this writer.” I found When the Cat’s Away and got started on it last week.

Set in White Sands, Alabama (along the coast), WtCA is a mystery novel of sorts, but it takes a while before the mystery to really kick in. Actually, I didn’t realize it was a mystery until well into the book. Being a reader of Tony Hillerman, I expect the mystery to be presented much earlier and then the entire novel spent solving it. The characters and situations are all interesting, one of the big “events” of the story being a cat show in which one of the main characters is entering a cat for the first time; first time for both her and the cat.

And even though I liked the book, I found one aspect of it very annoying: interjected sporadically we get to hear the thoughts of two of the cats; one of which was the contestant, the other of which is a mean big black cat that claws just about everyone he can get near. Oddly enough, it is the cat which solves the mystery…and this was kind of a let down for me. Obviously, this has worked before as this is the third book, but I didn’t like the cat solving the mystery.

That said, the prose flows smoothly and is both easy to read and interesting enough to hold your interest. The characters are well rounded and not cookie-cutter. In fact, there is such an amalgamation of different characters; one of them is bound to interest you. So, while I might not put this book on the top 10 list, I have no reservations about suggesting it for your reading list.

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