Book Review: Catwalk by Sheila Webster Boneham

An Animals in Focus Mystery #3
Sheila Webster Boneham
Midnight Ink, October 2014
ISBN 978-0-7387-3488-0
Trade Paperback

From the publisher—

Animal photographer Janet MacPhail is training for her cat Leo’s first feline agility trial when she gets a frantic call about a “kidnapping.” When Janet and her Australian Shepherd Jay set out to track down the missing party, they quickly find themselves drawn into the volatile politics of feral cat colonies and endangered wetlands.

Janet is crazy busy trying to keep up with her mom’s nursing-home romance, her own relationship with Tom, and upcoming agility trials with Jay and Leo. But the discovery of a body on the canine competition course stops the participants dead in their tracks—and sets Janet on the trail of a killer.

It’s unfortunate but some people are not animal lovers. I say “unfortunate” because I think those folks miss out on an awful lot, not least of which is the love between human and pet. It’s been shown that even the most cold-blooded critters know their people and appreciate them to a degree that goes beyond just the recognition of a food source. Cats and dogs, though, have a really special rapport with us so I regret that some people don’t have this kind of bond in their lives.

Then there are the ones who truly have no empathy with animals and don’t value their lives at all. Such is a man named Charles Rasmussen, the sort of man who would drown kittens given the chance and who has no regard for the creatures of the wetlands he wants to develop nor for the feral cats living in the area. As you might expect of such a man, he’s also abusive to his wife, Louise, and to anyone who doesn’t go along with his program. When another mean-spirited bully feels the need to break up an elderly couple’s relationship, Janet MacPhail wonders why “belligerent rich guys” seem to be bent on interfering in other people’s lives. Alarm bells start to clang when she finds out who that particular bully is.

Lots of people have motives to leave the dead body on the agility course, from a surly teen named Rudy to Alberta, a sort of crazy cat lady, to Hutchinson, a cop who was heard to make a threatening comment but no one is prepared when the real killer is revealed. Suffice it to say karma is a bitch for real.




There’s one scene which strained credulity more than a bit.  Janet decides she MUST go see the body even though she’s shaken to the core and then MUST make sure the victim really is dead because, after all, she recently had first-aid training. This made no sense as there was absolutely no need for her to do this when other people had already done so. Besides, she’s contaminating the crime scene so why on earth would she feel compelled to behave as if she’s the primary investigator or first responder? This is all even more baffling considering the fact that the person who found the body is a firefighter and member of a search and rescue team so he’s certainly qualified to recognize death when he sees it.




The above-mentioned scene is the only one I found the least bit jarring and I really did thoroughly enjoy this third adventure with Janet and her friends, both two-footed and four-footed.  One really funny occurrence involves dogs, a cat and a porta-potty but I’ll say no more about that 😉

And there’s this:

Hutchinson scratched Jay’s chin and said, “Gooboy, gooboy.” What is it about animals that turns big tough men into baby-talking mushballs?

Isn’t that just so true?

The characters in Catwalk are all so well-drawn that I feel as though I could sit down and have a cup of coffee with them and would thoroughly enjoy their company (except for a handful of unpleasant types). The animals in the story—especially Leo and Jay—are delightful and essential (and I could gladly snatch either or both of them) but readers who shy away from cutesy cat or dog mysteries shouldn’t be concerned. These pets are entirely normal and do no sleuthing or talking to humans or to each other 😉

Once again, Ms. Boneham has come up with an engaging story with a good mystery to be solved and appealing characters to spend time with. I can’t think of a better way to while away a few hours.


Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, October 2014.