Morton Digby is not the type to become a junior detective in the big city. By all accounts, he’s more suited to hard work out on the farm… mainly because he’s a border collie. Digby is one of the many anthropomorphic citizens of Delas Heras’ THE NINE LIVES OF BIANCA MOON: dogs and cats living largely normal, mid-twentieth-century lives. There are only two real differences, other than the animal population. For one thing, ghosts abound, forming unseen gangs and communities throughout the city. For another, cats literally have nine lives: when they die, they’re transported back to the place of their birth. Sadly for Flint, dogs like him only have the one life. So when a piano is “accidentally” dropped on his head, he finds himself running with the city’s ghosts: learning their rules, finding ways to communicate with Bianca, and mastering the fine art of traveling by umbrella. As he adapts to his afterlife, Digby and his new partner Detective Puddleworth investigate the seeming accident as a possible dogicide. Flint was an investigative journalist with a lot of enemies, and any one of them could be behind his murder. They’ll leave no stone unturned… and neither will Bianca Moon, Flint’s vengeful soon-to-be-fiancée. The hunt becomes a race against the clock, as Bianca’s own search sees her losing lives left and right. Will Digby and Puddleworth find the killer before Bianca dies for the ninth time? Who wanted to see Flint silenced for good? And will he be able to keep his beloved safe?
In THE NINE LIVES OF BIANCA MOON author Heras has created a vivid, oddly believable world. It’s almost cartoonish in nature, with tail-wagging detective dogs sniffing out killers and ghosts fighting each other for barrels of ghost beer. At the same time, the book manages to balance absurdity with drama. Never once is the story laughable for the wrong reasons, even with piano-aided murders and regenerating cat-people. Readers are introduced to the world bit by bit in a way that’s both easy to follow and increasingly intriguing with each discovery and it’s only after they are comfortable in this other world that its more serious issues begin to surface. Semi-immortality means cats are on the receiving end of far more violence than their single-lived canine counterparts. After all, they’ll just pop up, drink a glass of milk, and get on with their day. Smaller slights are also baked into this world: judging dogs’ aptitudes for certain jobs by their breed for instance. Morton Digby’s world is one that readers will want to visit again and again. It’s satisfying as a standalone read, but begs more questions—about the living and the dead of this world, and everything in between. More than that, it’s a legitimately engaging mystery for fans of the genre, and one that’s sure to keep even the most attentive reader guessing.
With a surprising mix of hard-boiled drama and cartoon comedy, Delas Heras spins an enchanting tale of life, death and afterlife in THE NINE LIVES OF BIANCA MOON.
~Kara Dennison for IndieReader