Tigermag Literary Review: File M for Murder

I will start off by admitting that I have not read this book. I bought it on a whim during my cat phase. I got a lot of cat books that way. What can I say; I just have a weakness for cats doing people things. So of course, when I saw the cover of File M for Murder, the latest installment in Miranda James’ “Cat in the Stacks” mysteries, I knew I had to have it. I pictured a Sherlock Holmes genius-cat-detective kind of thing, or at least a Scooby Doo-esque scenario. But I was so, so wrong.

After reading the blurb, I was surprised to find out that the cat is not the main character, which begs the question of why it is everywhere. Instead, the book is actually about “Charlie Harris, the good-natured librarian with a rescued Maine coon cat named Diesel that he walks on a leash.” I felt incredibly betrayed by this discovery. The cover promised me a detective cat. If this cat can’t even escape a leash, how is it supposed to have the manual dexterity to take fingerprints? You’re not a real detective unless you can take a decent set of fingerprints.

What’s worse, after skimming a couple random pages, I couldn’t actually find any instances of the cat speaking. As far as I could tell, its activities consist of following the main human character around and making bird noises (“Diesel stuck his head up beside mine, as if he too were checking the lock, and warbled”) (149). I signed up for people things, not bird things. How the fuck is this cat supposed to charm me if it doesn’t have witty banter? I still can’t comprehend this. Why would you write a book series that is literally named for the cat, has it on both covers and the side panel performing a clearly human activity, and NOT have the cat talk? This is beyond even Scooby Doo levels of marginalization. He doesn’t really do shit except eat and get scared and he’s got that annoying speech impediment but at least he talks. Meanwhile, Diesel gets to chirp. Justice is truly dead.

Honestly, I should have known from the cover that this book was full of depravity. The cat is committing a crime. He’s actually just sitting there going through someone’s purse. I know what you’re thinking: “calm down, it’s probably just looking for bodies or whatever the fuck it is that detective cats do,” but no, you’re wrong. This cat has a SINISTER GLEAM in its dead eyes. Just look at it. He’s not looking for bodies, he’s looking for valuables. He’s there on the back cover too, just staring. Never blinking. There’s no way you can place the book so the cat can’t see you. Is this “a gentle giant of a cat that will steal [my] heart?” No.

Actually, yes. This demoncat will probably literally steal my heart.

In conclusion, do not read this book. It lies. It makes promises of wacky cat antics and then it tears your heart out and crushes it on the ground while your wife and kids watch, and your kids start crying and your wife is trying to keep them calm but she can barely keep from crying herself. As you bleed out, she grabs your hand and holds it against her cheek while demoncat furtively picks your heart up in its mouth before sprouting batlike wings and flying away into the night. If you’ve already bought this book, put it away. File it under M for Murder… murder of dreams.


-KGR ’15

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