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Lynne Truss's Cat Out of Hell

Books & Poetry

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Recently widowed Alec is struggling to come to terms with the sudden death of his wife Mary and retreats to an isolated cottage to wallow in grief. In a moment of boredom he opens an email sent to him by a co-worker of Mary’s named Dr Winterton and is immediately intrigued by the contents of the attachments – plainly titled “Roger”.

The photographs, documents and audio recordings recount the experiences of a man named Wiggy and his encounter with Roger, who we later learn is a highly intelligent, immortal talking cat (stick with me, it gets weirder).

Cat Out of Hell, by Lynne Truss, Hammer, $27.99

Cat Out of Hell, by Lynne Truss, Hammer, $27.99

Wiggy stands accused of the murder of his sister Joanna (Roger’s previous owner), but could Roger be responsible for her death? Or perhaps it was the sinister and elusive Captain (another immortal cat hell bent on stalking Roger). As Alec delves deeper into Roger’s past, he is drawn into a dangerous world of cat mythology and demonic worship which threatens not only his life, but the lives of Winterton, Wiggy and even Roger.

Cat Out of Hell is a comedic horror (and I use that term lightly) story which deserves credit for originality and creativity, although the delivery leaves something to be desired.

Lynne Truss (author of the bestselling Eats, Shoots and Leaves) introduces all the book’s main characters within the first few chapters, and this influx of information becomes a little confusing – particularly since the characters’ lives intersect at different points in time.

Equally confusing is the narration. To begin with, Alec is summarising the experiences of Wiggy and Roger using information previously written and recorded by Wiggy – much in the same way a friend might tell you a story their friend told them. As the story progresses, Alec teams up with Wiggy to investigate Roger and the narrative changes to a first-person account which is much easier to follow.

With its unique plot and imaginative characters, Cat Out of Hell is certainly one of the strangest books this reviewer has read, and unfortunately it was not entirely satisfying. It did, however, serve as a poignant reminder of why I dislike cats.

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