This was a relatively difficult book for me to read, partly because of my familiarity with the Joe Grey mysteries, most of which I greatly enjoy. I found myself less than enthralled with Lee and it is difficult to be sympathetic because he is basically a venal criminal who seems to lack a moral compass for the most part. The personification of Satan and the mysterious bet that Lee’s ancestor engaged in, thereby condemning his descendants to deal with the repercussions, adds a mystical and sometimes odd slant to the story, as does the mysterious cat who alternates in location and solidity. I found myself struggling to get through the first part of the book but once the setting changed it got a bit more interesting for me although I wasn’t pleased by the ending. I am a much more ardent fan of the Joe Grey series although those also have a mystical aspect and hope to see more adventures of those voluble creatures in the near future.
“The Cat, the Devil and Lee Fontana” by Shirley Rousseau Murphy and Pat J.J. Murphy is a mystical mystery that adds to the mystique surrounding cats such as those introduced in the popular Joe Grey series. The travails of prisoner Lee Fontana are explored as he completes his prison sentence and rejoins the world as a parolee but the temptation to sink back into the criminal mindset is personified. The blandishments of Satan are almost overwhelming but fortunately, Lee has an ally in the shape of a mysterious cat who has multiple forms, some corporeal and some not, who has a knowledge that spans centuries and countries. The cat also inexplicably links Lee to a family across the continent that has mysterious ties to him but they have their own version of evil to combat and it seems the cat’s powers are limited after all.
The author of the award-winning Joe Grey mystery series--a writer hailed for her "magical whimsy and deft writing" (Cats magazine) who "has raised the stakes of the feline sleuth genre" (Kirkus Reviews)--teams up with her husband to conjure a charming supernatural adventure involving the devil, a thief, a bet, and a spirited phantom cat.
To the devil, the span of human life is as brief as spit on the wind. But the challenge of playing with flawed humans, like a cat toying with a mouse, is endlessly amusing. However, if the devil loses a wager, he will harass a person's descendants until he eventually gets his due. Which is why he is tormenting Lee Fontana.
The night before Lee is paroled, Satan terrifies and tempts the thief with the promise of one more successful robbery. But Lee has a secret ally looking out for him. The prison cat, a ghost, will tail the ex-con on his dangerous mission--an adventure that moves across the country and spins far beyond our present world into the vast realms of afterlife, a story in which ghostly Misto revels in his added ethereal powers and expanded freedom.