I spied Cat Out Of Hell at my local library and was drawn by the title, cover design and author. I have a weakness for cats and have been keen to read something from Lynne Truss’ repertoire for some time.
The novella begins with a retired librarian taking a holiday to ease his grief following the death of his wife. While away, he receives an email from a former colleague containing a folder of electronic documents. Through his perusal of these documents we learn about ‘Wiggy’, an actor summoned by his sister to look after her cat Roger, only to find she has mysteriously disappeared. What follows is the revelation of a talking cat, whose mannerisms are superbly depicted. Truss decodes the characteristics of felines and plays on the idea that they are villainous and evil. Roger the cat is also highly intellectual, a fun contrast to the not so intelligent Wiggy.
Truss’ human characters are meticulously yet subtly portrayed and she weaves a clever mystery with murder and intrigue. Although I found the denouement rather implausible, Cat Out Of Hell is an amusing and lively novella which can be read in a short amount of time. Truss keeps the narrative interesting with the incorporation of screenplay, email and first person accounts. I also appreciated her occasional intertextual references.
All in all Cat Out Of Hell is an entertaining read, particularly for cat fanciers who like the notion of giving voice to our four legged friends.
“The scene: a cottage on the coast on a windy evening. Inside, a room with curtains drawn. Tea has just been made. A kettle still steams.
Under a pool of yellow light, two figures face each other across a kitchen table. A man and a cat.
The story about to be related is so unusual yet so terrifyingly plausible that it demands to be told in a single sitting.
The man clears his throat, and leans forward, expectant.
‘Shall we begin?’ says the cat …”