BOOK REVIEW: The Unscratchables

The Unscratchables

This was a fun and surprisingly good murder mystery set in a world entirely populated by anthropomorphized dogs and cats. When two canine gangsters are murdered, no-nonsense bull terrier Detective Crusher McNash is paired (much to his chagrin) with a cultured Siamese from the Feline Bureau of Investigation, Cassius Lap. Together they make a sort of Oscar and Felix combo.

As you may predict, the pet puns come at you a mile a minute. With so much wordplay, it’s not surprising that many of the gags fall flat. The best jokes are those that are more subtle and aimed at readers who already have knowledge of the canine and feline worlds:

A seedy motel is called The In-Season. Crusher recalls a terrifying battle with blue-eyed foes at Seal Point. A doggie horror flick is called “The Unfamiliar.” And the city newspaper is titled The Daily Growl, a reference that should elicit instant recognition from anyone who’s shopped in the pet supply aisle any time in the past 30 years.

Interestingly, the author uses his furry heroes to make numerous points about the nature of society, as well. I laughed out loud at this passage, and it had nothing to do with Fido jokes:

Swerving around all of these I tried to map out an escape route, but all the streets branching off Conformist Way—Neurosis Alley, Depression Court, Futility Lane—were dead ends.

I like this guy.

Is it bad that the entire time I read this, I thought of what a good movie it would make? I recommend this welcome diversion to all animal lovers.

(review originally appeared at


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Noriko Auel
    Nov 07, 2011 @ 21:19:18

    hey, great blog! love it 🙂


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