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by Marian Babson
St Martin's Minotaur, May 2007
224 pages
ISBN: 0312332386

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Vance is called to his twin sister's hospital bed. Vanessa, or Nessa as he calls her, was injured while at Friary Keep. She tumbled from the top of the ruins and is currently in a coma. At Friary Keep, she works for tycoon Everett Oversall. Vance is upset that no one views this accident as suspicious especially as Nessa suffers from a fear of heights making this accident seem unlikely.

To determine the truth, he calls on his abilities as a female impersonator and goes undercover as Vanessa. With the assistance of Vanessa's doctor, Dr Anderson, Vance borrows her identity and claims to suffer from amnesia. As Vanessa resides out of sight in a coma, Vance believes there are few dangers and that no one will see through his disguise.

It seems that Friary Keep is not a peaceful place to live. Everyone Vance meets has his or her own agenda. Some of these people are former lovers of Oversall; some are possibly current loves, while others are employees and staff. In addition there are the resident artists/writers. Some of the women are incredibly catty while others are merely back-stabbers. Vance must discover the secrets everyone is keeping in order to discover the truth and find his sister's attacker. The only problem is that Vance must win over Vanessa's cat Gloriana before the cat's lack of trust gives him away.

The characters in ONLY THE CAT KNOWS are rather one-dimensional and stereotypical. There are the former beauties, who are aging ungracefully, as well as the new up-an- coming crass independent women. In fact, the protagonist himself is superficial as well. Even though Vance goes through this whole charade to discover his sister's attacker, this book does not provide any sense of motivation or depth. While he is able to convince others he is his sister, he has no personality and his inner-thoughts remain shallow.

Nor does this book provide much of a sense of who Vanessa is either through her brother's memories or through her co-workers' actions. The only character in the book that has any thing resembling a personality is Gloriana, the cat, and her actions are formulaic as well.

For fans of Marian Babson, this book might be enjoyable. For readers who have never read her books before, ONLY THE CAT KNOWS does not provide a reason to continue reading or buying her books. While Babson's ideas have potential, her writing style and characters need more depth to be appealing to the larger reading public.

Reviewed by Sarah Dudley, May 2007

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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