Wednesday, August 12, 2009

To Catch a Cat by Marian Babson

In order to join a gang at school, Robin must break into the Nordling's house and steal Mrs. Ingrid Nordling's prize cat, Leif Erikkson. Kerry (who's the leader of the gang and has requested this of Robin) has a sister, Maureen, who works for the Nordlings and has left a window unlatched so Robin may enter. While in the house, Robin witnesses something so horrible, it puts the rest of his life into focus. This is mentioned in the blurb so I'm not giving away any spoilers. Robin hears loud arguing, followed by a crash, sees something fly through the open door, the door slams, and there's a lump lying in front of him. Scared out of his wits, Robin recovers to discover the lump is none other than Leif Erikkson, out cold, but still alive. With the prize in sight, Robin stuffs Leif into his bag and books out, but not before seeing Mr. Nordling, standing nude and covered in his wife's blood. I can't even begin to describe how wrong that sentence sounds. Before Nils Nordling can say "Wait, it's not what you think," Robin books out of the Nordling house. Once home, Robin checks over Leif over, finds a jewel studded bracelet, and finds the cat coming to, but Robin has no way of knowing if Leif's hurt elsewhere or how to take care of him so he decides to head to library to check out a book on cats. While Robin's at the library, he feels like he's under surveillance and finds Jamie watching him. Jamie is also trying to get into Kerry's gang, but needs help. Seems Jamie can't get his hands on pot, though Robin has access to loads of it thanks to Josh, Mags's boyfriend. He hands over some pot to Jamie and gives more to Kerry to be accepted into the gang. Kerry covets the pot after the group gets a taste and Robin claims he chickened out and couldn't get Leif. The pot satisfies the group and Kerry says they can stay, for now. Meanwhile, back at the homestead, Robin tries to sneak food to Leif while Mags questions her decisions and when her ex-sister-in-law (Robin's mother) will come back, while Josh latches on the latest murder scandal. In addition, Nordling tries to feign off Ingrid's annoying friend Edward and his wife, Edith, well-meaning, but a tad dense. In the interim, Leif is growing on Robin as Robin realizes Mr. Nordling is probably looking for him and the cat to get rid of to cover his crime. Young Robin quickly learns it's no longer about him, but another life depends on him so he rises to the occasion to protect this innocent creature. On the down-side-up, Robin's grandmother, Granna (I really like that name), comes in for a visit, or it's better to steal away her grandson while the mother's away ploy. This only furthers Mags's feelings of failure, but she does let Robin make his own decisions. In a desperate attempt to protect Leif, Robin drastically alters the cat's appearance with a pair of scissors (I can't imagine the horror). A disheveled and disgruntled Leif is discovered by everyone as Granna demands to get into Leif's room and the cat makes a break for it. Granna assumes the cat is a female and Robin goes along with the misidentification and renames Leif as Tealeaf and concocts a story of how he found the poor thing and felt the only salvation the cat had was him (the need for survival does crazy things). On the flipside, Josh secures an interview with Mr. Nordling. On the flipperside, Mr. Nordling receives a call from a young woman demanding money. Mr. Nordling agrees assuming the female is blackmailing him, and many know what happens when one assumes things. In the flipperyside, Edith ponders Ingrid's funeral with Edward and promises to take up the issue with Nils since he hasn't brought it up. In the evening to end all evenings in this little town, many things happen: Nils confronts the young woman, Maureen who brought her brother Kerry for security, and offers the money as her due diligence; Robin and Jamie run to Kerry for security and find out Kerry and his friend, Pete, aren't as bad as they seem (Kerry has an altruistic motive for obtaining the pot); Edith confronts Nils who gets the wrong idea and strangles her; while Nils is trying to dispose of Edith, the boys find her on their dumping ground fishing; Granna and Mags try to confront Robin about the bracelet; Josh tries to hold his prize winning interview with Nils. All of this comes together and sorts itself out.

If you've read this review, it's probably longer than the book. Once again, Babson doesn't fail to entertain me. This one seemed to be a crime of errors where the characters all misinterpret everyone else, but their actions get themselves out of the jam. When everything comes clear, it all ends happily. Juvenile and sappy? Perhaps. Yet, I still enjoyed it. Maybe Babson has a Pollyanna view of things, but I love Pollyanna (movie and book) and reading my book helps restore some of the good in humanity.

3 comments:

Julie said...

I have to say that book cover catches my eye!

hamilcar barca said...

... but not before seeing Mr. Nordling, standing nude and covered in his wife's blood. ... Before Nils Nordling can say "Wait, it's not what you think,"....

I always love those "Wait! I can explain everything!" moments in a book.

Christina said...

Julie - The cover caught my eye to. I've read several of Babson's book, but when it came to the next one, the cover did it for me.

Terry - The explanations are a fine piece of fiction and sometimes worth it to hear how outlandish they become, even though the listener is thinking, "Get real."