Cat Caliban has talked her good friend, retired cop Moses Fogg into mentoring her as she pursues a PI license for a second act to her arguably successful job of motherhood. And if it takes her mind off the ravages of menopause, that’s even better. Moses gets a mysterious message on his answering machine from Rocky Zacharius, a former juvie client who is just out on parole and trying to stay alive while her cohorts seem to be dropping like flies. But Moses and Cat have no idea where Rocky is and no way to reach her. Her Aunt Barbara is overwhelmed taking care of Rocky’s three kids in addition to her own brood but she’s still not forthcoming as to her whereabouts, so Cat and Moses are left with scant clues to find her. Only Rocky doesn’t want to be found. Because if Cat and Moses can find her, so can the killer.
In their search Cat interviews some of Rocky’s prison ‘family’ by gaining access to the women’s prison in the Cincinnati area which turns into an eye-opening experience. But it turns up new information that helps unravel the mystery surrounding Rocky’s reluctance to be found. In the interim, somehow Cat and Moses wind up temporarily housing Rocky’s three kids. And chaos reigns. But the Catatonia Arms ‘family’ all come together to sub as babysitters while Cat and Moses try to find Rocky before it’s too late.
“Six Feet Under” is set in the mid-1980s and answering machines seem foreign to our ears now that cell phones with voice mail have made them obsolete. Nonetheless, that blinking red light and the waiting messages were Rocky’s only way of touching base with Cat and Moses.
This sixth book in the Cat Caliban series is somewhat of a departure from the first five in that it has a more serious tone, gritty even. But it is in keeping with the up close and personal look at the realities of prison life. What it’s like to be a woman on parole, with no home, a limited education, no money and no job and no real prospects for a job because you’re on parole and have little to no education. The moral aspects of the issues arising from the prison system have defied any real solutions despite the money that’s been thrown at them. Shining a light on it is a bit different from author D.B. Borton’s more humorous works. That’s not to say this is all serious. Cat is still Cat after all and she is one of a kind.
Borton does a masterful job with regional dialects and descriptive phrasing. She is an astute observer as evidenced by this single sample of her artistry: “….a stocky man with blond hair cut close as grass on a putting green.” That is prose that sings. Five gold stars.
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