Vintage Pulp Feb 25 2023
So here's the thing I prefer about indoor cats. You never have to do this.

The Judas Cat by Dorothy Salisbury Davis is an unusual mystery about a ninety-two-year old toymaker and engineer found dead in a locked room with a terrified expression and scratches on his face. A few reviews of the book say the main suspect is the man's cat. Not really. Davis makes clear from the beginning that some malefactor may have used the cat in a mysterious way to facilitate the murder. The police chief Fred Waterman, who was so intimidated by the cat's aggressive behavior that he shot it just before discovering its owner's body, has it sent for a post-mortem to determine whether it was sick, had been posioned, or perhaps had poison on its claws. Local newsman Alex Whiting is the one who first notices something unusual about the animal's body. Thus begins the novel-length team-up between chief and reporter as they try to unlock the puzzle. While the method of murder continues to baffle them, the motives slowly coalesce around valuable patents, a will with a recent codicil, and hidden connections between various townspeople.

In general we liked the book. The characterizations are pretty sharp and the portrayal of life in a town where everyone knows everyone else's business is both fascinating and frustrating, as Davis intends. The story may not contain enough menace or action for some readers, but it's a pretty good example of a rural mystery, a decent examination of the effects of murder on a supposedly wholesome community, an interesting look at the quaint courtship rituals of the immediate post-war period (where a woman must simply wait to be noticed and courted), and a reminder of how political power was wielded in a time when those in control had fewer fears of exposure. We would read Davis again without hesitation, especially considering The Judas Cat was only her first novel. She probably got better with experience. We'll find out. We have another of her books. The nice purple cover on this 1951 edition from Bantam was not credited, and as we always say, that's a crime in itself.

History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
March 24
1981—Ronnie Biggs Rescued After Kidnapping
Fugitive thief Ronnie Biggs, a British citizen who was a member of the gang that pulled off the Great Train Robbery, is rescued by police in Barbados after being kidnapped. Biggs had been abducted a week earlier from a bar in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil by members of a British security firm. Upon release he was returned to Brazil and continued to be a fugitive from British justice.
March 23
2011—Elizabeth Taylor Dies
American actress Elizabeth Taylor, whose career began at age 12 when she starred in National Velvet, and who would eventually be nominated for five Academy Awards as best actress and win for Butterfield 8 and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, dies of congestive heart failure in Los Angeles. During her life she had been hospitalized more than 70 times.
March 22
1963—Profumo Denies Affair
In England, the Secretary of State for War, John Profumo, denies any impropriety with showgirl Christine Keeler and threatens to sue anyone repeating the allegations. The accusations involve not just infidelity, but the possibility acquaintances of Keeler might be trying to ply Profumo for nuclear secrets. In June, Profumo finally resigns from the government after confessing his sexual involvement with Keeler and admitting he lied to parliament.
1978—Karl Wallenda Falls to His Death
World famous German daredevil and high-wire walker Karl Wallenda, founder of the acrobatic troupe The Flying Wallendas, falls to his death attempting to walk on a cable strung between the two towers of the Condado Plaza Hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Wallenda is seventy-three years old at the time, but it is a 30 mph wind, rather than age, that is generally blamed for sending him from the wire.
2006—Swedish Spy Stig Wennerstrom Dies
Swedish air force colonel Stig Wennerström, who had been convicted in the 1970s of passing Swedish, U.S. and NATO secrets to the Soviet Union over the course of fifteen years, dies in an old age home at the age of ninety-nine. The Wennerström affair, as some called it, was at the time one of the biggest scandals of the Cold War.
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