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Friday, 8 August 2014

FFB – Alias Thomas A. Katt

A few years ago, when I was commissioning manuscripts for a publisher, I encountered this little fantasy gem, Alias Thomas A. Katt by Bob Stewart (2011, 2014).

Of the 190+ books I accepted during my tenure, I enthused over all or I wouldn’t have accepted them, yet of all those there were a good many that seemed just that little bit extra-special. It would be invidious to list all of them, but from time to time they may crop up in this regular feature. That’s one of the most satisfying aspects of being a commissioning editor – whether for a magazine or a book publisher – opening a submission that captures you from the first page.

Thomas is a detective noir with a twist. Cat lovers will love it, as will fans of crime fiction.

This book reached the end of its initial contract and has switched publisher. It’s an e-book and paperback, now with a new beguiling cover.

Alias Thomas A. Katt - the blurb:

When Mallory opens the cage at the animal rescue center I trot out, right into her heart. She names me Thomas, a natural enough moniker for a male cat. It is a pampered life until I enter the surreal world of “feline noir” which twists my fondest dream into my worst nightmare after switching bodies with my mistress’ boyfriend, Tom A. Katt.

My fondest dream? To have human interaction with Mallory, not limited to purring and mewing.

My worst nightmare? Mallory is now on the hit list of a killer…

The dilemma: To save her by learning to successfully masquerade as a human. My knowledge of the human world is limited to television, movies, and the books Mallory reads to me on rainy New Orleans afternoons. And, how do you use those pesky opposable digits, anyway?

The horns of the dilemma: There’s always a chance we’ll switch back, leaving Mallory in deadly peril.

Normally, I’d write a review for this feature. But I’d be biased, obviously. So here are some endorsements:

Faux saints, cats who inhabit human bodies and find they can’t dog paddle when in their human state, ace cops who are also mob enforcers… all are elements in Bob Stewart’s comic novel, Alias Thomas A. Katt, that I thought might make it difficult to suspend my disbelief, but those were minor obstacles to that goal. What really posed a problem for me is I’m a cat-hater, but, from the first page I was captivated. Any fears of not being able to suspend that famous disbelief went right out the window with the contents of the litter box. This is a book chock-full of rollicking escapades, impossible situations, and improbable characters in a plot that could have been designed by Timothy Leary while “researching” illegal substances (sound track by Dylan). It’s a really cool book! What we in the writing trade are speaking of when we throw around the words “original” and “imaginative.” I give it my highest rating: Four Fur Balls.
-  Les Edgerton, author of Hooked, Finding Your Voice, Monday’s Meal, The Death of Tarpons and The Rape.

Bob Stewart has created his own niche--feline noir--in this kitty caper. When Tom Katt, a police officer and romantic interest of the lovely Mallory, switches bodies with Mallory's real cat, Thomas, the tables are turned on the bad guys. Even though he's forced to work within the boundaries of an inferior human body, Thomas still has his feline smarts. Bad kitty! takes on new meaning in this fun romp that all cat lovers will find purr-fect.
- Carolyn Haines is the author of BONES OF A FEATHER, the 11th in the Sarah Booth Delaney Delta Mystery series.

"It's a given that cats and crime fiction have been cozy companions since the days of Edgar Allan Poe. Now, however, Bob Stewart adds a delightful new twist, taking the reader on a charming, fast-paced, and quite inventive ride..."
-- Carlton Stowers, two-time Edgar winner

Bob Stewart is the author of four published non-fiction books, and has reported news events for popular magazines (People, Time, Life, and Latina). He has authored two plays presented by the Aggie Players at Texas A&M University, and two scripts for series television while pursuing a career in journalism. He served as associate producer for Switched at Birth, a television mini-series based on the Kimberly Mays baby switch in Florida. It was nominated for an Emmy. He has been managing editor of The Bryan Daily Eagle, The Laredo Times, and the Marshall News-Messenger. For ten years, he wrote a daily television column for the San Antonio Light. Next, he pursued a career as a freelance reporter/writer/author. In 1998, he joined the staff of People Magazine as a correspondent, working out of his San Antonio home.
His non-fiction books are:
No Remorse (Pinnacle True Crime and a True Crime Book of the Month club selection) is the true story of Texas serial killer Kenneth McDuff who was convicted of murder, then paroled, when the Supreme Court struck down the death penalty, only to go on a killing spree. McDuff was executed in October, 1998.

Revenge Redeemed (Revell ) is the true story of a Kentucky couple whose only child was killed by a drunk driver in 1972. They rehabilitated the man who killed their son and today he lives next door to them.

Sacrifice: The Drug Cult Murder of Mark Kilroy (Word Inc.) with co-author Jim Kilroy is the bizarre true story about Mexican drug smugglers who murdered Jim’s son, a University of Texas pre-med student as a human sacrifice while the youth was in Mexico on spring break.
Man to Man: When the Woman You Love Has Breast Cancer (St. Martin’s Press and a Literary Guild Alternate Selection) with co-author Andy Murcia, the husband of entertainer Ann Jillian.

Bob has worked on a number of national stories for People, including the Oklahoma City bombing, the Branch Davidian standoff in Waco, the murder of Tejano singer Selena, the TWA jet crash in New York, the murder of students at schools in Pearl, Miss., Jonesboro, Ark., and Columbine in Denver, Colo., the racially-motivated murder of James Byrd in Jasper, Tx., the execution of Karla Faye Tucker, and the kidnap/murder of Mark Kilroy in Matamoras, Mexico.


Chisem said...

Wow, Nik, I am humbled. Thank you, thank you, thank you; such words of praise coming from a master. And, another thank you for commissioning the perfect line editor in Charles T. Whipple, a rare writer in his own right. Sometimes the stars align and something magical happens because so many talented people care.

Nik said...

Don't mention it, Bob. I agree about Charlie, too - another under-rated writer. Let's hope many more readers discover Thomas. Best of luck with the new version.

JETaylor said...

Thank you for highlighting this book on your blog! Bob is a fantastic writer and a little FYI- the book is available in paperback as well as e-book.

Have a wonderful day!

ChuckTyrell said...

Of the many assignments I received from Nik, I got more laughs from Thom A. Katt than any other. Bob does a masterful job, and he's acquainted with crime.

Nik said...

Thanks for the feedback, JE. I've amended the text on the blog. Good summing up, Charlie, thanks!