Cat’s Paw – Connie Willis

“Come, Bridlings,” Touffét said impatiently as soon as I arrived. “Go home and pack your bags. We’re going to Suffolk for a jolly country Christmas.”” (page 1)

Title: Cat’s Paw – (Originally published in: Miracle and Other Christmas Stories and most recently published in A Lot Like Christmas)
Written by: Connie Willis
Genre: Mystery
Publisher: Bantam Spectra
Publication Date: 1999
Paperback: 53 pages

*Blog Post Readers*: Why are you writing a review for a short-story? And a Christmas short-story on top of that? Christmas already happened and you promised to review books!

Because it’s my blog and I do what I want.

Because Christmas isn’t over until (I say so) Epiphany.


Cat’s Paw is my all time favorite short-story and since it’s a Christmas story I figured: what better time to do a review for it than right after Christmas?

On December 21st, which is National Short-Story Day. 

Not like I forgot about National Short-Story Day or anything like that…

Cat’s Paw is a clever, fun, and timeless murder mystery. The main characters are blatantly based off Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson but this is anything but fan-fiction.

Well, maybe just a little bit.

I love the family intrigue mixed in with an old time Christmas celebration, talking apes, and a murder.

It’s basically A Christmas Carol meets Crooked House(review HERE) with monkeys.

The end is a bit anti-climatic yet, at the same time, fits the plot perfectly.

Cat’s Paw is an amazing story but because of certain subjects discussed (the story goes heavily into descriptions of what happens to tamed apes released back into the wild.) and because – well, you know: it’s a murder mystery, I can only recommend this story for teenagers and adults. If you love Sherlock Holmes, or any of Agatha Christie’s novels you will love this short-story.

For More Information about the Book and Author Click: HERE

Age Range: 12 – adult


Violence: A man is killed by strangulation. Apes have laryngeal transplants. Lord Alastair throws food around his room, spits at the guests, and attacks his nurse with slaps and punches. Man claims an ape attacked him. Description of the strangled man’s body. The bedroom is disarrayed during the murder. Discussion about how an ape was killed and it’s body parts trophy-ed off to collectors. An ape biting off a scientist’s finger, and a body being burned to ashes is mentioned

Sensuality: Lord Alastair made sure his daughter didn’t marry by falsifying accounts against her truelove. Bridlings thinks about how pretty one of the guests looks.

Profanity: God’s name is taken in vain. Lord Alastair swears violently but we are never told what he says

Other(drugs/alcohol): People lie. A man is sedated. A man is a drunk and a gambler. Several people drink. Toffét treats Bridlings with disregard/disrespect.  Robbery, cloning, equal rights for gorillas, using people for your own gain, and experimenting on apes is mentioned.

Personal Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Cleanness Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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