Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Case of the Cat with the Missing Ear: From the notebooks of Edward R. Smithf

The Case of the Cat with the Missing Ear: From the notebooks of Edward R. Smithf

Scott Emerson
Illustrator:  Viv Mullett 
For ages 8 to 12
Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2011   ISBN: 978-0689876158

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 assignment to find 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. He comes to this realization through his association with the remarkable, though diminutive, Samuel Blackthorne.

This delightful mystery (with a twist) is exciting and well written, and there are touch of wry humor in the narrative. As is the case with Arthur Conan Doyle’s creations, we are left thinking about the book long after we have finished reading it.