The Unscratchables

( 5 )


Animal Farm meets The Simpsons in this inventive twist on the hard-boiled detective novel, featuring a world made up exclusively of cats, dogs, and one ruthless fox...

Bull terrier Crusher McNash is a no-nonsense homicide detective who eats out of the can and only bathes when his boss orders him to. He’s just been thrownaboneaboutagruesome case involving Rottweilers torn apart by a savage killer, and the only lead he’s been able to sniff out is “an impression of movement” at the...

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The Unscratchables

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Animal Farm meets The Simpsons in this inventive twist on the hard-boiled detective novel, featuring a world made up exclusively of cats, dogs, and one ruthless fox...

Bull terrier Crusher McNash is a no-nonsense homicide detective who eats out of the can and only bathes when his boss orders him to. He’s just been thrownaboneaboutagruesome case involving Rottweilers torn apart by a savage killer, and the only lead he’s been able to sniff out is “an impression of movement” at the murder scene. Crusher suspects the killer is a cat, and there’s nothing he hates more than “the whole cream-lapping, wool-juggling, pajama-wearing, fence-sitting, bird-torturing, furball-coughing lot of them.” But he’ll have to start barking up a different tree if he wants help solving this case as his partner on this case is soymilk-drinking, pressed-suit- wearing Cassius Lap, an agent for the FBI (Feline Bureau of Investigation).

As this odd couple puts their paws together, their investiga- tion takes them from the bow- els of the Kennel into the tony streets of Kathattan. Soon, they begin to uncover a vast con- spiracy involving a cat who has been trained as a super-killer, capable of growing in size and ferocity and killing any dog who gets in his way—and who may be working for a media baron fox. But they’ll need to unravel the conspiracy, and quickly, if they want to stop the next killing before it’s too late.

Witty and irresistibly entertaining, this genre- bending mystery boldly mixes human and animal sensibilities in an entertaining satire of our cur- rent society.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Det. Max "Crusher" McNash, a fearless bull terrier in the slaughter unit of the San Bernardo police dog force, must overcome his distrust of special agent Cassius Lap, a very Zen Siamese of the FBI (Feline Bureau of Investigation), in their pursuit of a serial killer cat targeting dogs in this off-the-leash hard-boiled satire from the pseudonymous Kane. The fur begins flying when two rottweilers are torn apart. Later victims include a retriever attending a museum shindig, movie star Jack Russell Crowe and a newshound. Crusher and Cassius deal with gangsta hounds as well as visit Kathattan, an island where dogs are unwelcome, and Cattica Correctional Facility, where convicted murderer Quentin Riossiti, a debonair psycho cat, offers his help for a price. Billed as "a well-known Australian author," Kane offers plenty of tongue-in-muzzle insights into bestial behavior, political chicanery and assorted foxy topics. (July)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Reviews
Pseudonymous Kane's debut shows what happens when the guardians of the mean streets are a bull terrier and a Siamese cat. Whatever has become of all the humans absent from Det. Max (Crusher) McNash's world, they've certainly left their mark. Crusher, divorced by the wife who thought he was doing a lousy job of raising their five pups, wears clothing, frequents bars, appreciates attractive pooches and treasures a night at the boxing arena watching feral Zeus Katsopoulos challenge Rocky Cerberus. By the time he gets to see this fateful match, however, Crusher is already paw-deep in pursuit of a serial killer, a cat of preternatural size and power who's terrorizing dogs across the city. When Crusher's best witness, Flasha Lightning, not only refuses to say anything specific but keeps running away, Chief Kaiser Kessler calls in Cassius Lap of the Feline Bureau of Investigation. Like the salt-and-pepper rapport of the suavely manipulative Siamese and the blunt bull terrier, innumerable details of plot, setting and characterization evoke a fictional universe in which cops and criminals aren't exactly cats and dogs but aren't exactly people either. Kane inventively revisits every feature of the hardboiled genre: tone, diction, slang, back stories, detective routines and wisecracking puns (some of them real groaners, like Shakespaw's classic play The Great Dane). Rumors that the case involves media magnate Phineas Reynard's attempt to extend his political power through species conditioning nudge the story from parody to the bolder, more perilous mode of contemporary satire. Not the tightest mystery you've ever read, but unquestionably a tour de force.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781416596417
  • Publisher: Scribner
  • Publication date: 7/7/2009
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Cornelius Kane is the pseudonym adopted for a well-known Australian author.
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Read an Excerpt

THE JANGLER STARTED ringing as soon as I nudged open the door. But it was already past ten p.m. and I'd been on my legs for over twelve hours. I only wanted to flop.

I went to the kitchen cupboard and got out a can of Chump's. I peeled it open with a fancy electric gizmo — something I'd snared in a squad raffle — so I could eat straight from the can without jagging my tongue. I splashed some water into a bowl. I went to the sofa and hunted for the remote control, but it was buried so deep under soiled blankets and biscuit crumbs I couldn't even smell it.

The jangler was still hammering. Probably my ex, wanting to whine. Maybe Spike wanting to play ball. Maybe some prevention-of-cruelty charity begging for cash. But I was too sapped to care.

Sinking between cushions I felt the remote dig into my flank. I flipped it out, pawed at the controls, and the buzzscreen blinked on. Johnny Wag, famous quiz show host, was tossing the big-biscuit question to reigning champion Professor Thomas Schrödinger. But I had no appetite for brain-bait. I flicked the channel.

An electoral debate between President Brewster Goodboy and Buster Drinkwater. Goodboy was a cat's-paw, everyone knew it, but he'd win easily — I'd probably vote for him myself. Drinkwater used way too many big words.

The jangler just wouldn't shut up. I flicked the channel again.

Swinger Cat, a new sitcom from the other side of the river.

Everybody said it was real funny — the laugh track sure said so — but I was in no mood for ribtickles.

A fawning documentary on the CIA.

A doomsday report on the Persians.

A horror movie, The Unfamiliar, so old I think it was in blackand- white.

A public service announcement warning us not to get scared by the fireworks on Democracy Day.

And finally something I could settle on — a ball game. The Bulldogs were eight runs up on the Hellhounds in the sixth inning. Not exactly tight, but something I could watch without needing to think. I could pick a team — the Bulldogs — and cheer them on. I could bark at the ump. I could gobble my Chump's. I could slurp my water and slowly drift into snoozeville.

The jangler stopped — finally.

But then it started hammering again.

Now I was really getting my tail up. I'd spent half the morning in court, giving evidence against the Airedale Ripper — a whitecoat who'd carved up his victims with a medical saw and buried the remains in his backyard. Then, before I'd even had time to wolf down my lunch, I'd been called out on a new case — bits and pieces of bone found in the sewer under Chuckside. A whole afternoon poking through doodah, and all we found were a couple of chalky knucklebones — not even good enough to chew on. When I got back to the station the chief ordered me to have a wash — my first in two months — and now I was feeling so clean I almost gagged. I reckoned I could hear fleas in the corner, wondering who I was.

The Bulldogs whacked one over the fence and the jangler was still clanging.

I considered ripping the cord out with my teeth. But all of a sudden the buzzscreen was showing an ad for Friday's prizefight — a double bill of Leroy Spitz vs Deefa Dingo and Rocky Cerberus vs new sensation Zeus Katsopoulos. If Cerberus KO'd Katsopoulos in the first round, like everyone expected, it would make him the greatest southpaw since Butch Brindle. Everyone in San Bernardo was drooling at the prospect.

But here was the problem. The Reynard Cable Network had won exclusive rights to all UBF matches. And I didn't have RCN. So all of a sudden I started wondering if it was my old buddy Spike on the line, inviting me around to watch.

I fumbled the squawker off its cradle.

"Max McNash."

"Crusher — it's me, Bud."

Bud Borzoi was my fetch-dog at the Slaughter Unit.

I sighed. "What's up, Bud?"

"Coupla stiffs, Crusher. In Fly's Picnic."

"You can handle it."

"But you're gonna want to see this, Crusher."


"You're just gonna want to see it."

I sighed again. "Know what sorta day I've had so far?"

"Sorry, Crusher — I wouldn't be barking if it wasn't serious."

Fang it, the pup could make me feel guilty. "Okay," I huffed, "but lemme get my bearings first. Where in Fly's Picnic are you?"

"Slinky Joe's Sardine Cannery."

"That's right next to Wharf Twelve, ain't it?"

"You got it in one. See you down here in, say, twenty small ones?"

"Make it thirty. And Bud?"


"Do I need to bring a barf bag?"

Bud sniggered. "Make it a doggie bag, Crusher, case there's something you want a second nibble at."

It didn't seem long since Bud had been a wide-eyed rookie, hungry for cheap thrills. Now he was making all the quips.

"Sniff you later," I said. I tossed the squawker back in place and returned the half-eaten can of Chump's to the fridge next to the gravy pot. When I switched off the buzzscreen a brawl had broken out between the Bulldogs and the Hellhounds: teeth flashing, hackles bristling — the crowd was lapping it up.

Copyright © 2009 by Anthony O'Neill

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 12, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A real tail wagger

    I did not think I would ever finish this book as I spent so much time laughing. Some of the best lines I have read in a long time. Loved the terminology for every day objects and how they made so much sense. Waiting for the next one by this author.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 17, 2009

    Fighting Like Dogs and Cats

    This was a book club recommendation and proved to be a rather interesting read. I think the author spent a lot of time observing dogs and cats to get the essence of both. I had to laugh about some of the names given to the various characters and the place locations-Kathattan, Pugkepsie, etc, etc. The two protaganists even drove vehicles in keeping with their characters, a Rover for Crusher McNash and the classic Jag for the classy Cassius Lap. As much as I found this book interesting and a little weird, I don't know if I could have written in so much detail about dogs and cats. It's almost like Cornelius Kane (an alias) had a lot of time on his hands. I Still found the book a good read and interesting in an off-beat way and now look at my cats in a new light. Hummmm, I wonder what crimes my three may be solving in their kitty minds after the lights go out.

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  • Posted May 15, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    fun anthropomorphist mystery

    The dominant sentient species on this world are felines and canine. These two groups are natural enemies and keep as far away from each other as possible. Bull Terrier police officer Crusher McNash loathes cats especially Siamese because he was once a POW and they were his torturing tormenters.
    His latest case involves the death of two rottweilers who were torn into shreds. The brass believes a feline is the killer, which brings the Feline Bureau of Investigation into the inquiry. To his chagrin Crusher partners with Siamese Cassius Lap who has some counter theories to the homicides. The two cops are at a fight in which the feline contender goes up in height and weight and easily takes down his opponent. There is a link between the fighter and the killer but anyone with information is quickly killed. The answers lie at the highest levels of power; way beyond the reach of either Crusher or Cassius, but as allies and perhaps even friends, they might be able to ferret out the traitors, if they live long enough to achieve their determined goal.
    There have been quite a few mysteries in which animals communicate with humans and other animals as well as the Planet of the Apes, but THE UNSCRATCHABLES uses the premise of no homo sapiens on Kane's world though tempered by Anthropomorphism. Instead the dominant species destroying their planet are the canines and felines. The protagonists have human traits used to lampoon the two legged beasts, but there also are clear psychological differences between the felines and canines. The investigation is cleverly devised so that the natural enemies must truly partner if they are to solve the case; even then it may prove that the higher ups are too protected (sounds familiar). Readers will enjoy the adventures of Crusher and Cassius in this satirical crime caper.
    Harriet Klausner

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    Posted September 5, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2009

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