MURDER AT OSGOODE HALL by Jeffrey Miller (ECW), 234 pages, $19.95 paper. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
The title of Jeffrey Miller's mystery drew me like a magnet. Toronto lawyers killing each other off. Yum. But when I realized it's a story told from the point of view of a cat, my stomach sank - this could be gag-worthily precious.
It's not. It's slim but funny, and crammed with delicious legal tidbits. The story moves faster than a feline chasing a ball of foil.
The plot revolves around the death of an anti-establishment barrister who, given that he was a pain in just about everyone's butt, could have been killed by any one of many suspects. Osgoode's resident feline, Amicus Curious, follows the case as it descends into a very valuable wine cellar. As a sidebar, he's also watching his best human, Judge Mariner, struggle to complete a brief on how to preserve the rights of environmental activists. Here's where Miller's politics and legal training come together to create the most engaging reading.
Our hero does have an impact on the murder investigation, occasionally moving a few papers around on someone's desk so a crucial piece of information becomes visible. But mostly Amicus is an observer, and an astute one, of human behaviour and of his own. After killing a bird in one of Osgoode's gardens, his reputation is on the line.
Miller's prose is a cut above most Canadian mystery writers'. Our hero, Amicus, isn't one of those hard-boiled tomcats sniffing around back alleys. He's literate, legally trained and very good with words.
Not for cat lovers only.