Wednesday, 14 October 2009

A Fictional Interlude - Marrying Cosy and Noir

This is a pre-scheduled post as I am travelling to Bouchercon today - Bobbie and I are doing a Thelma and Louise road trip.

On one of the lists I'm on (the wonderful 4_Mystery_Addicts), we once discussed whether there were any books which united both ends of the cosy-noir spectrum, and, I believe we concluded that there actually weren’t. So, I had a stab at marrying Cozy and Noir (although actually it's more of a very short engagement where the parties split due to irreconcilable differences). But here it is for what it’s worth.


The name’s Fluffykins. And don’t even think about smirking. The last one to laugh at my name was a mangy tomcat from Yonkers who’s now meowing soprano on Broadway in the chorus of Cats. Just because I travel around in my owner’s oversized handbag and wear a little bow in my topknot, it don’t make me a pussy, ya know. I have a good life – my human buys me all the choicest cuts of meat, the finest salmon. You know that saying ‘The cat who got the cream’? Well, that’s me. Every day - breakfast, lunch and dinner. If I have to put up with a little bit of tartan ribbon, well… so be it.

So, life was good, but me and the human were feeling a little bored. I was spending most of my day sleeping, she was spending most of hers knitting. I could feel all the inactivity was having a detrimental effect on my normally sleek and lithe figure. I was getting a little stodgy round my midsection, and the birds outside on the window sill were safe from me, unless someone were to hand me a Glock. Come on sparrows, make my day.

Anyway, yesterday the human sighed, put down the lifesize model of the Statue of Liberty she was knitting and said "Fluffykins, we need a bit of excitement in our lives. The only thing we have to look forward to this week is a Bridge party at Lady Dalrymple’s and seeing how long it
takes the Vicar to cheat."

I opened one eye and rolled over for my stomach to be rubbed. I don’t do that for everyone you know. What - you think I expose my tender bits to all and sundry just because they happen to visit and say "Awwww, what a sweet little thing"? Just because I’m a cat doesn’t mean I’m stupid. Would you do that? Would you roll over on your back and let a complete stranger within inches of your crown jewels? No, I thought not. So don’t expect me to, OK? Jeez.

So, anyway, here we were, in front of the glass panelled door which spelled out in peeling black letters ‘Dick Blade – Private Investigator’. The human knocked gently and a gravelly voice called out "Yeah? It’s open. Come in, but don’t make any sudden moves. I’ve got a roscoe trained on you. One false move and I’ll fill you so full of holes you could double as a teabag." I purred in delight. I had reached my spiritual home.

The human opened the door. Behind the desk sat a man who was looking very much the worse for wear. A battered fedora sat on his head, resting jauntily on a bandage over his left eye. He was unshaven and grey looking. His eyes were screwed up against the cigarette smoke that hung over the room like a blanket. As he took a huge swig out of a half empty bottle of whisky, my human tutted, plonked her handbag with me in it on the chair and moved over to the window which she opened wide.

"Hey! Whaddaya think you’re doin’ lady? I gotta cold. I’ll catch my death, you open that window." He coughed feebly, just to underline his protest.

"And you think whisky and cigarettes are going to help? What you need, dear, is a nice hot camomile tea with some lemon and honey. And here," she lifted me out of her capacious handbag and rummaged about, "Look, here’s a warm scarf I knitted for Colonel Arbuthnot. You can have it."

As she wound the scarf around the PI’s neck, I smacked my forehead with my paw. My hero with the battered fedora and dirty trenchcoat, now had a baby blue woollen scarf with lemon fringe around his neck. And damn me, if he wasn’t fingering the soft wool with joy.

He tried to pull himself together. "So, lady, what can I do for you?"

"My name’s Agatha Parple. I’ve come about your advert in the newspaper."

"Yeah? Which one? ‘Dick Blade’s the name, Detecting’s the game. Your old man skipped out leaving you holding the baby? Blade will track him down like a dog.’ That advert?"

"No, not that one."

"OK. What about ‘Need a Bodyguard? Call Blade.’ Short and sweet that one."

"No, not that one either."

"No? OK. It must be ‘Need muscle? Blade’s got more muscle than a gym full of steroids’. Hell lady, what do you want with muscle? Can’t get the lid off a jar of raspberry jam?"
"No dear, none of those. It’s this one, from the Daily News - ‘Wanted - partner for PI. Ability to shoot straight, drink like a fish and stay awake for days on end essential. Must have own trenchcoat.'"

"Lady, you gotta be kidding."

My sentiments exactly. What was the human thinking of? Where was the mention of the intelligent crime solving cat in all this? I meowed piteously.

"Listen buster", said my human, ripping the ribbon out of my hair and ruffling my fur. "Can the prejudices and don’t be a sucker, or I’ll kick you in the keister. I’m a good triggerman and know how to recognise a flimflamm when I see one. Now, pass me over some of that giggle juice and let’s yap." She sat down, put her little button-booted feet up on the desk, and whipped out a packet of Capstan Extra Strength.

Blade looked at her admiringly. "I think you and I are gonna get along just fine, Doll. Now, what was it you said about a nice cup of camomile tea?"