Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Case of the Cat with the Missing Ear – From the Notebooks of Edward R. Smith

The Case of the Cat with the Missing Ear – From the Notebooks of Edward R. Smith

Scott Emerson
Illustrator:  Viv Mullett 
For ages 8 to 12
Simon and Schuster, 2003   ISBN: 0689858612

It is 1887 in San Francisco, and a naval doctor of veterinary medicine has returned from his tour of duty overseas. Injured during his adventures in far-off places, he sees himself having a simple life, taking care of patients and living quietly. Then the good doctor meets Samuel Blackthorne, a Yorkshire terrier of great intellect who follows the example of the greatest of detectives, Sherlock Holmes. It is important to explain at this point that all the characters in this book are either dogs or cats; most are dogs. As was the case with Sherlock Holmes and his good friend Dr. Watson, the narrator and Samuel Blackthorne begin to share rooms and the good doctor soon finds himself caught up in the investigative activities of his new friend.

What begins as a simple case of searching for a missing greyhound turns into a case involving murder, the lust for power, crime rings, and close calls in the fogs of San Francisco. Though the mystery itself is the main theme of the story, there is also the self discovery that the doctor makes. He finds that there is, in fact, more to life than he ever thought was possible. It is through his association with the remarkable, though diminutive, Samuel Blackthorne, that he comes to this realization.

Exciting, well written, and with just that touch of wry humor, this is a delightful mystery with a twist. As is the case with Arthur Conan Doyle’s creations, we are left thinking about the book long after we have finished reading it.