Saturday, June 13, 2009

Pets in mystery novels

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Yesterday, Erica Orloff wrote a column about pets in stories. You can find it here.

That made me think of Harry in my book, The Body in the Record Room. Harry's love for his dog Bullet is based on a little story which I think I've told before.

I was raised on the grounds of a state mental hospital. My father was the superintendent. One day, he came home upset, and when we asked him what happened, he said, "A patient hid a puppy under his bed. We had to take the dog away."

I wanted to write a story where a similar person somehow or other got to keep the dog.

I've not been much for those stories where animals solve crimes (though I sometimes read them). But I do love stories with meaningful relationships between humans and animals. And I find it hard to read stories with cruelty to animals.

Erica's column made me think again of how much animals have meant in our lives.

PS The picture is of our cat Rascal. He came during the flood of 1993, a small kitten drenched in pouring rain, walking down Main Street in our small town. That year, every route out of our town of about 4,000 people was flooded except one. We spent the whole summer (and well into the fall) running a shelter, welcoming work crews from other churches and running a kitchen to feed volunteers out on the sandbagged levies or working to reclaim flooded homes. Some of those volunteers were in their boats roping vaults floating down the river. That came as a result of the flooding of the Hardin Cemetery. I was told that, back then, the Hardin Cemetery disaster was the greatest single flood-caused cemetery disaster in U.S. history. There have since been bigger ones.

A while later, our white cat Angel joined Rascal. About a year ago Angel died. She had to be euthanized because of terminal breast cancer.

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