Sam the Cat

Created by Linda Stewart (pseuds. include Sam Stewart, Nick Carter)

Okay, anyone who knows me knows that I think animal detectives of any sort, but especially cats, are generally about as useless as tits on a bull. But, in this case, since it's a book for kids, I'll make an exception. SAM THE CAT is the feline private dick hero of Linda Stewart's 1993 book, Sam the Cat: Detective. According to an anonymous tip, it's a classic urban noir tale -- with all the key roles, from gumshoe to bimbo, played by cats.

Sam, the P.I., is a handsome rough-and-tumble Russian blue witha sharp line of patter who, along with his human partner, runs a specialty bookstore in Manhattan. Then one day in struts trouble, in the guise of a sultry longhaired cat, a feline femme fatale, if you will, who wants to hire Sam to recover a valuable jade necklace that has been stolen from her masters. Sam drives a hard bargain, but eventually negotiates his fee -- half a pound of lox, plus expenses, and a small can of tuna in advance.

It may all sound a little dopey, but according to the coer of the 2000 reprint, the book has already sold 240,000 copies. It was also nominated for an Edgar Award, and was eventually followed by several sequels, also well worth checking out, which have also garnered Edgar and Agatha nominations.

According to the same anonymous source, The Big Catnap (2000) is "a gem, right down to the cover illustration by Chuck Leslie. It shows Sam on a dark street corner with his shadow, cast by the streetlight behind him, sporting a tough-guy fedora." Sounds like a good way to whet your kid's appetitie for the good stuff when he or she's older.... like, um, Blacksad, maybe?

Author Linda Stewart has written numerous crime novels and novelizations for adults, ranging from Panic on Page One (1979) to 2015's Payback (by "Sam Stewart"). She even wrote a couple of Nick Carter books in the seventies, The Peking Dossier (1974) and The Jerusalem File (1975). She's also written television dramas and documentaries. Sam The Cat: Detective, her first book for children, may have been her biggest success -- it was also published in England, France, Germany, Holland and Japan.

UNDER OATH

  • "Forget Harry Potter... If you want to be enchanted by a book for all ages, try Sam The Cat: Detective..."

-- January Magazine, Spring, 2000

  • "If Philip Marlowe came back as a cat, he'd have come back as Sam... All the deadpan humor is here..."

-- Chicago Tribune, April 1, 1993

EVIDENCE

  • "Tan-colored. Tough. You go to see Angie, man, you better sharpen your nails."

-- Sam not only walks the walk, he talks the talk

  • "She was dazzling, all right--a real heart-stopping beauty with a long fluffy tail-- and I stood looking back at her like salmon looks at bait. After a while I got the fish- look off my face and said, "To start with, what's your name?"

-- Sam, despite being a cat, is obviously all-male.

NOVELS

RELATED LINKS

Get 'em while they're young. A suggested reading list.

Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith, My special thanks go out to The Long Family (Agatha, Elizabeth, Simon and Jan) for their help with this one.


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