I was attracted to this book by its cover, which is certainly spiffy. A curlicue dragon and a very strange looking cat face. This collection of ten stories by UK author Jonathan Day features “crimes, cults and curious cats,” as its subtitle proclaims, but it also has a lot of cops. Almost every story includes someone who is a PC, DC, DS, DI or DCI, and often more than one of these ranks is present.
“Cock-a-Doodle-Do!” has a couple of women PCs on the trail of a disruptive mechanical cock (rooster) who experience an encounter with a peculiar cat (probably the one on the cover image).
In “Willow Pattern World” a tatooed detective with unique talents pursues a murderous chemist.
In “Feeding the Monster,” an elderly woman with extreme synesthesia helps her detective nephew investigate a derelict windmill with a sinister history.
“The Impossible Detective” is the best of the batch, in my opinion. A feisty female DS (nicknamed Tweet) on the track of a missing child encounters the ghost of a murdered detective, and reopens a cold and grisly case involving an evil cult.
In “Behold, the Face of God!” two privileged young ladies are introduced to a fossil-hunting cult which has combined science and religion in a most startling way.
“Our Lady of the Herbs” features a woman vicar and a scholar of ancient texts digging into the origins of a quaint village festival, and then struggling with whether to reveal the results of their investigations.
In “The Greening of Toby Jug” a ghost hunter hoping to snare a poltergeist has a fatal encounter with greed and destruction.
In “The Hammer of God” a young DC investigating the murders of three elderly eccentrics begins to wonder about his superior, who is a priest as well as a DI.
“Cosmic Cats” is a short, dream-like tale that I found to be the weakest of the ten.
In “The Cult of the Bast Cat” a young PC tracking down the drug-addicted father of an infant ends up working with a Chief Superintendent to discover the fate of a detective who disappeared while investigating the Cult of the Bast Cat.
The sincere and straightforward tone of these stories cleverly conceals occasional subtle social commentary. Several of the detectives are women and a few are from ethnic minorities. The primary characters are sympathetic and distinct. Dialogue is lively and sometimes quite funny. Every one of these stories is engaging and most are thoroughly satisfying.
Short Stories : Crimes, Cults and Curious Cats is available free on Smashwords.