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Cat under Fire (Joe Grey Series #2)

Cat under Fire (Joe Grey Series #2)

4.5 17
by Shirley Rousseau Murphy

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A big, powerful, gray feline, Joe Grey is perfectly content with his remarkable ability to understand and communicate with humans -- especially now that he has company. A mysterious accident similar to the one that enabled him to speak and read has transformed his friend Dulcie as well. The trouble is, the cute tabby female not only hears human words, she believes


A big, powerful, gray feline, Joe Grey is perfectly content with his remarkable ability to understand and communicate with humans -- especially now that he has company. A mysterious accident similar to the one that enabled him to speak and read has transformed his friend Dulcie as well. The trouble is, the cute tabby female not only hears human words, she believes them.

Now she's convinced the man who was jailed for murdering a famous local artist and burning down her studio is innocent -- simply because he says so -- and she's willing to do whatever it takes to dig up the evidence that will exonerate the accused. Joe would much prefer just lazing around the house doing kitty things, but the lady cat is determined. And Joe must admit that he is curious ... though everyone knows what that can lead to!

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Joe Grey Series , #2
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.76(w) x 4.12(h) x 0.71(d)

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Chapter One

The night was cool, and above the village hills the stars hurled down their ancient light-borne messages. High up on the open slopes where the grass blew tall and rank, a small hunter crouched hidden, his ears and whiskers flat to his sleek head, his yellow eyes burning. Slowly he edged forward, intent on the mouse which had crept shivering from its deep and earthen burrow.

He was a big cat, and powerful, his short gray coat sleek as velvet over his lean muscles; but he was not a pretty cat. The white, triangular marking down his nose made his eyes seem too close together, as if he viewed the world with a permanent frown. To observers he seemed always to be scowling.

Yet there also shone in his golden eyes a spark of wit, and a sly smile curved his mouth, a hint that perhaps his interests might embrace more of the world than simply the palpitating mouse which awaited his toothy caress- a clue that this big gray tom saw the world differently, perhaps, than another cat might see it.

Crouching low, he did his best to keep his white paws and white chest hidden, keep his white parts from shining out through the dark grassy jungle. He would have preferred to have been born solid gray in color- that would make hunting far easier- but one did not have a choice in these matters. And he did favor his neat white paws.

The mouse moved again, a quarter inch, watching warily for any presence within the blowing shadows.

Quivering, it stretched farther out from its shelter, its eyes gleaming black and quick as it strained to see any foreign movement. Its ears twitched, alert to any threatening sound upon the hushing wind, and constantlyits body shivered with the habit of fear, every tiny muscle tensed for flight, ready to vanish again among the heavy roots.

The cat's eyes didn't leave his prey; they blazed with hunger and lust for the kill, bright as yellow coals. He drew back his lips over gleaming incisors as he tested the mouse's musty smell, his pink tongue just visible tasting that irresistible aroma. His shoulders rippled in anticipation, and he licked his nose as if he was already licking warm and succulent mouse flesh. The small rodent was damnably slow about leaving its cover. Joe remained still with great effort.

Below him down the grassy slopes the village of Molena Point slept snugly at this predawn hour, the cottages protected from the sea wind by the giant oaks among which they had been built, and by the surrounding hills into which the homes and shops were tucked like a tangle of kits snuggled against their mother. In the center of the village the courthouse tower rose tall against the dark sky, as pale and lonely as a tombstone. The Mediterranean building housed two courtrooms, various city offices, and, at the far end, the Molena Point Police Department. The ongoing murder trial which would resume this morning in the courtroom was, despite the tomcat's irritation about the matter, of great concern to him.

For weeks the quiet village had talked of nothing else but Janet Jeannot's murder and of the fire in which she had died. There was heavy speculation about the young man who had been indicted for her death. Prurient excitement about these events had transformed Molena Point's usual calm ambience into an emotional bedlam. Gossip and conjecture seethed through the village shops and cafés so that Joe, prowling the village streets catching snatches of conversation, was aware of little else. Though his own interest did not stem so much from village gossip as it did from a far more personal concern.

The mouse moved again, creeping farther from cover, half an inch, then an inch, bravely and foolishly leaving its grassy blind, drawing so close to Joe that Joe had to clamp his jaws to keep from chattering the age-old feline death murmur. He oozed lower, slipping silently toward it through the grass, disturbing no blade, every fiber of his being honed in on that sweet morsel.

The mouse froze.

Joe froze, his heart pounding with annoyance at his own clumsiness.

But no, it hadn't seen him. It had paused only to gather itself for a dash across the bare earth. It stared across, fixated, toward another stand of heavy grass, where a tiny path led away, a quarter-inch lane vanishing between the green stalks. Joe's muscles tightened, his lips drew back, his yellow eyes gleamed.

The mouse sped, streaking for its path, and Joe exploded across the little clearing. With one swipe of scimitar claws he raked the creature up into his waiting teeth, it fought and struggled as his fangs pierced the wriggling morsel.

The mouse knew a moment of apocalypse as it hung skewered and shrieking in the cage of teeth clamped through its body. Joe bit deeper into the warm, soft flesh, the sweet flesh. The mouse screamed and thrashed, and was still.

He crouched over it tearing away warm flesh, sucking up sweet, hot blood, crunching the mineral-rich bones, then the surprising little package of stomach contents. The stomach usually contained grass seed or vegetable matter, but this morning he was rewarded by a nice little hors d'oeuvre of cheese from the tiny mouse stomach. Camembert, he thought, as if the mouse had lunched on someone's picnic. Or maybe it had gotten into the kitchen of one of the houses that dotted the hills. He could taste a bit of anchovy, too, and there was a trace of caviar. Joe smiled. Its belly was full of party food.

How fitting. The mouse had taken its final repast from the silver trays of a party table. Molena Point's cocktail crowd had supplied, for the little beast, an elegant last meal, a veritable wealth of pre-execution delicacies. Joe grinned, imagining the small rodent up in mouse heaven, gorging for eternity on its memories of anchovies, beluga, and Camembert.

Cat Under Fire. Copyright © by Shirley Murphy. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Shirley Rousseau Murphy is the author of twenty mysteries in the Joe Grey series, for which she has won the Cat Writers’ Association Muse Medallion nine years running, and has received ten national Cat Writers’ Association Awards for best novel of the year. She is also a noted children’s book author, and has received five Council of Authors and Journalists Awards. She lives in Carmel, California, where she serves as full-time household help to two demanding feline ladies.

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Cat under Fire (Joe Grey Series #2) 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
RonnaL More than 1 year ago
I'm not usually good with fantasy and suspension of belief, but this book drew me in right away with it's talking cats that can open refrigerator doors to get their food, can make telephone calls, and can think and investigate with the best of the local police force.  Joe and Dulcie are special cats but also have all the endearing and naughty traits of normal cats. In this second book, one of their human friends, a well resound artist, has been murdered.  The police have a suspect in jail, but he's been talking to the lovely cat who visits the jail.  He doesn't realize that Dulcie can understand everything he's saying as he bemoans his innocence.  Dulcie believes him and sets out to find the real culprit.  Joe's not as enthusiastic, but he's dragged into the search by Dulcie. This is a really cute mystery.  The cats are so catlike within their human abilities.  The search for the murderer is very well done and is solved very logically, though the cops are sometimes bamboozled by how some of the evidence and clues are found.  No one knows that the cats can talk and understand everything said around them but their two owners. I listened to this on Audible and found myself laughing at the antics so well told by the narrator.  Looking forward to reading many more of these tales!! 
Amber1cat More than 1 year ago
This second book in the Joe Grey mystery series was ngreat! I love the characters, and the mystery takes some interesting twists, My only complaint is...I keep expecting my cat, a Dulcie look-alike, to start talkiung to me! So far I have read Cat On Th Edge, Cat Deck the Halls, and Cat Playing Cupid. I plan on reading them all! I recommend these books for mystery lolvers and cat lovers alike.
jac70 More than 1 year ago
I read every series. A joyful relaxing read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was excellent! The story flows with such realistic description that you expect to look up and come face to face with Joe and Dulcie. If you ever loved mystery series such as Lilian Jackson Braun's The Cat Who books you won't be able to put this one down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love these cats can't get enough of them so adventure Love this series keep them coming
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petecrn More than 1 year ago
I have the benefit of today's knowledge while looking back amongst various and sundry literary presentations of the mystery genre. Past those who have come to some notice and many that have not to see that this character and his folk have the power of a broadside and are not just one volley from some rusty bucket. An interesting group of inhabitants of the the page who I wish, no, I have to follow. Another wonderful story of intrigue that is satisfying as a hunts game presented on a crisp linen covered table. Go Joe! I also like how a bit of wonder about things mystical, as if talking cats is not enough, is spiced in reminding the reader of their own questions about mortality and... Well...Read on.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I want to be deputy. I am a she cat and i need a mate.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hi i am a tom waanting to b deputy. I need a mate