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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Unscratchables, by Cornelius Kane

A month in Alaska affords a book-fancier lots of time to read. The Unscratchables is a new July release from Scribner, published under the pseudonym of Anthony O'Neill, who has penned several other genre-crossing novels.

The tagline on the cover calls this a new breed of crime novel. The subtle wordplay is suggestive of what is to come. The characters live in Kathattan, their guns woof, and the North Siamese threaten a world already embroiled in the Afghan-Persian war. Like the Planet of the Apes, things are just as we recognise them, with one critical difference. This isn't meant to be a comedy, but there is amusement in the substitution of dogs and cats for humans.

We follow Max McNash, a bulldog detective who is called in on a murder case. Against his better instincts, he is teamed with Cassius Lap, an agent from the FBI (Feline Bureau of Investigation). McNash first has to learn to trust Lap, and by the end he develops a fondness for the Siamese cat. They form a partnership that will surely lead to further adventures.

A whole range of scents from popular culture can be detected in this novel, including television, film, government, and advertising. More than just a police procedural, murder mystery, or who-dun-it, McNash and Lap discover an underworld of conspiracy and societal conditioning whose lessons can be applied to our own times.

If you have an itch for a quick, uncomplicated novel, this novel will scratch it. The Unscratchables is simple entertainment that is well-written and published with only one apparent typo. You'll beg for more.

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