Eileen O'Kelly is a wily detective in 1912 Boston. She and all the other characters are cats.
Two-time Newbery Honor winner Stolz (Belling the Tiger; The Noonday Friends) adopts a Victorian voice and syntax for this eloquent episodic tale of a resourceful sleuth. The first-person narrator is Eileen O'Kelly, who in 1912 is the only female, feline private detective in Boston possibly in the United States maybe (who knows?) in the world. As the lady gumshoe tackles a handful of cases, she coyly utters numerous plays on words, tongue-in-whiskered-cheek comments and social critiques (after Eileen invites her milliner neighbor to take a dish of tea, she explains: Taking a dish of tea is an English expression that has made its way into Boston society, which likes to consider itself more British than American). The dilemmas she sets out to solve all involve anthropomorphic cat characters: a grocery store owner seeks the culprit who is purloining his supply of lox; a hotshot pitcher who hit a once-in-a-lifetime homer out of Furway Park is desperate to find his lucky ball; and an inn owner is determined to discover who murdered her chef sister and escaped with her cookery book of prized recipes. While investigating the murder, Eileen falls in love with Marcel, the victims sous chef, allowing for some fun take-offs on the French. Levy's charming, detailed black-and-white illustrations depict the cat cast as a decidedly dapper lot, resplendent in period fashions and domestic details. Stolz's nod to the internal monologues of Phillip Marlowe and other classic detectives will likely win over both beginning sleuths and lovers of language. Ages 8-12. (Apr.)