The Cerulean's Secret
by Dennis Meredith
Glyphus LLC

"Talbot has this great moneymaking cat dumped in his lap. Then it’s kidnapped. Then he talks about it being dead."

Timothy Boatright moves to New York City from North Carolina in order to pursue his dream of writing and hopefully pick up some adventures along the way that will spur some creative inspiration. Finding quick work as a cabbie, Timothy lives in a bad part of town and has plenty of danger in his life, but not the kind that he can publish into a bestseller. While doing routine fares, he finds himself taking a passenger to a high-profile cat show in Madison Square Garden. Before he can hit the streets again, a passenger nervously gets in the backseat and asks to be taken to a shady part of the city. After a chance glance at the stranger’s parcel, Timothy realizes that there’s a cat inside—but not just any cat. A billion-dollar, genetically engineered, bright blue cat is in the backseat of his taxi cab.

When the police tie Boatright’s cab to the theft, his life gets turned upside down. The highly-televised police procedure causes friends and family to worry, his job to suspend him, and his girlfriend to leave him. Also, everybody who thinks his involvement with the police or the Cerulean Cat is a threat seems to be trying to end his life. A mysterious woman comes to Timothy’s door during the night and offers him a gun and some money to get away. Shortly thereafter, a strange animal burrows through Timothy’s wall to hunt him. Timothy and his visitor fill the creature full of bullets and make their escape. In order to prove his innocence, Timothy locates the cat and steals it back to return it, but his possession of the feline makes him a target for the police, corporate muscle, and criminals alike.

An action novel about a stolen cat sounds like the recipe for some lighthearted, silly action, but the author takes the premise and molds it into something packed with tension and danger on every page. Members of the primary cast of characters exude either a threatening aura or an acerbic wit to fake that toughness, making for a constant feeling of fight-or-flight that the reader experiences through Timothy. His performance as a narrator reveals the insecurities and impurities that he masks in his interactions with other people, lending depth to his role in the story both as a character and as he connects to the reader. The snarky Lulu and the experienced Callie also complement Timothy perfectly, creating a trio of heroes that enact fluid scenes together on the page.

What really makes this read pop and is a true mark of any great piece of science fiction is the adaptive language that a narrator in the year 2050 uses naturally. Without resorting to a glossary or long-winded explanations, the author still manages to have his protaganist from the future communicate clearly with the modern reader. Timothy’s use of future-slang and technological terms provides the world with a sense of character while showing the distance between our modern reality and his. There’s also a balance in the antagonism stemming from traditional sources such as drug lords and ask-questions-later police officers and the fictional techno-beasts bred in a lab to be as dangerous and lethal as possible. Using sources of tension that readers can understand as well as those they must imagine engages the reader doubly; it not only puts them in Timothy’s shoes, but it also allows them to imagine the monsters he faces. Lovers of films like Blade Runner or The Fifth Element will fall right into this book. But in an unlikely turn, cat-loving readers may also find a tense tale to enjoy as well.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

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