The Ninth LifeDo not let my appearance deceive you. I am not like other cats.

Yes, I am a feline, with coal black fur and cool green eyes that belie my intense, some would say passionate, nature. And, yes, I am a creature of the streets, as the scars in my hide and my one ragged ear attest. But I am more than your typical feral, part predator, part scavenger, scratching out some kind of survival here in the city. And a good part of the reason for this is the girl, Care.

I owe my life to this girl, a stray in her own right, living on the street. I do not yet know her entire history, although I am sure that the gang that currently shelters her does not provide the healthiest environment for a young woman – even one as tough as she is, or one with such a ridiculous shock of pink hair. If she were not living here, in an abandoned building near the harbor, we may never have met. And then she would not have been there to save my life, pulling me from that storm drain where I was drowning, going under for the third and final time.

That she was out in that storm looking for solitude, seeking a quiet place to cry and to mourn her mentor, is clear to me. The old man was teaching her. Training her how to observe and how to think. How to assemble the evidence into a reasonable theory of past happenings. He made a living by doing this, by finding the lost and solving the mysteries of this rough city and its less privileged denizens, and she was his apprentice before he was so brutally killed. She would like to avenge him, if she can. Beyond that, I know, she still hopes to make such detecting her trade, and I, with my superior senses – with my intellect not muddled by emotion or family tie – will do my best to aid her.

I do so not simply because it is in her best interest. Life on the street is hard for a young woman, and her options are not good. Nor do I act simply out of gratitude. If I had been swept down that drain and out to the harbor, I would not have been missed. No, I feel a connection to this young woman, this Care, despite her unsavory acquaintances and that ridiculous hair. It is a bond I do not fully understand, although hints have come to me in dreams. For now, it is enough that the tie exists. I am a cat, and she is my girl. Together, we will find a way.

The Ninth Life is the first book in the NEW Blackie and Care mystery series, published by Severn House, March 2016.

Introducing Blackie, an unusual feline hero, and his companion Care in the first of this dark new mystery series.

Three figures, shadowy against the light. That’s all I remember from my past life, as I am dragged, dripping and half-drowned, from the flood. My saviour, a strange, pink-haired girl, is little help. She can barely care for herself, let alone the boy she loves. And although she has sworn to avenge the murder of her mentor, she must first escape the clutches of drug dealers, murderers and thieves. I would repay her kindness if I could. But we are alone in this blighted city – and I am a cat.

The past is an enigma to Blackie, the voice of Clea Simon’s dark new mystery. Combining elements of feline fantasy and cozy whodunit, The Ninth Life introduces this unusual hero and his companion, Care: two small creatures in a nightmarish urban landscape, fighting for their lives, and for the lives and memories of those they love.

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About the author
Clea Simon is the Boston Globe-bestselling author of 19 traditional/cozy mysteries in the Theda Krakow, Dulcie Schwartz, and Pru Marlowe pet noir series, most recently Code Grey (Severn House) and When Bunnies Go Bad (Poisoned Pen). This March, her 20th mystery, The Ninth Life, (Severn House) launches the new, dystopian Blackie and Care series. A former journalist, Clea lives in Massachusetts, and although her books are getting darker, they still always include a cat. She’s not sure why. Visit Clea at

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