Becoming Georgia

Diamond in the Ruff

Finding Mr. Right

The Good, the Bad, & the Sexy

Jezebel's Sister

 
The Cat's Meow
by Emily Carmichael
(Bantam, $6.99, PG) ISBN 0-553-58634-3
***
Amnesia, talking cats, a snobbish woman who tries to figure out who she is, a minor tale of intrigue because someone seems out to kill her and a hunk of a lawyer are all part of The Cat's Meow. The story was fun and enjoyable, yet nothing inspiring.

McKenna (Mac) Wright is a bright attorney on the fast track in Sedona, Arizona. She wants to make partner in her firm and seems well on the way. She is currently involved in the case of rock star Todd Harmon, who is accused of selling drugs to undercover cops at a party. Mac is determined to get him acquitted, but has just discovered some damaging evidence that will help the prosecution. Knowing that she must turn over the evidence, she struggles with what this will do to her case. The evidence is an interview with the maid at the party, who also has knowledge of previous drug deals. Todd informs her to let it go, as he has sent the maid, Maria, back to Mexico. McKenna knows what is right and wrong, and following the law is ethical. But she decides to wait until Monday to tell the Assistant Prosecutor, Tom Markham.

On the way home, Mac sees two bright lights and her BMW plunges off a cliff. She wakes up in the hospital with amnesia. Her life is a blur, she doesn't remember the accident, the case, or anything. Her friends, two wacky ladies who love animals and have helped her form a pet therapy organization, try to fill in the blanks in her life. But things go downhill. She finds her home (which she just moved into three weeks ago) sterile; she gets the sense from people that she was driven and ambitious to the point of nausea and she talks to her cat…who is now talking back!

Tom is a great guy – successful in his own way, cute, caring and determined to beat McKenna on this case. Harmon is just a small fish; what Tom really wants is for Harmon to turn in his dealer. But Harmon's manager wants Todd free of all charges. He is trying to sell Harmon as an all around good guy, clean cut and able to promote products such as Pepsi. This charge could ruin it all.

McKenna's life goes downhill fast. When her boss discovers she can't even remember what a tort is, he fires her. She has no money (apparently she lived a high lifestyle but didn't think about saving anything for a rainy day). She rents out her house and moves into a doublewide trailer in the middle of nowhere. She goes to work for McDonald's because they are the only company who will hire her. Her friend, Jane, offers her part-time work in her kennel for cats and dogs. And Tom offers to tutor her in the law, letting her help him with some pro bono work. How low can one sink?

As McKenna tries to recover her memory, her trailer gets ransacked, she is confronted with a possible fiancé (who didn't call her for over three months), and she meets her parents – caricatures of Beverly Hills types who are only interested in her social status and svelte figure.

Mac is bound and determined to discover not who she was, but who she wants to be. Tom and her friends, along with her cat Titi (short for Nefertiti), help her find that person hidden inside.

Tom is a great hero, saying all the right things, giving her time before he makes his move, and offering her emotional as well as physical support. He comes to her rescue and yet gives her space. He is the best, although one does wonder what he saw in the old McKenna beyond her body and her brain. She was not a very nice person most of the time.

This tale is fun yet never really takes off. Mac is so determined to find her memory, yet many of her escapades seem put into the book to show the dichotomy of her old and new life, and lack realism. And the talking cat thing never really worked for me. There is a fine line between making this type of fantasy work and for me, this book didn't quite make the mark.

Having said that, the pace of the story is good, Tom is a fine hero and Mac grows on you as she finds her true self. There were some romantic scenes that will make hearts melt. And the bad guys are clearly the bad guys. All of this makes The Cat's Meow a pleasant and enjoyable read, but nothing to really purr about.

--Shirley Lyons


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