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Book Review: The City That Barks and Roars by J. T. Bird

Seems like the world has always been a gruesome place to live, be it humans or animals or aliens. One or other thing keeps fighting for superiority and regimes. From the novel, The City That Barks and Roars, I came to know that even animals messed up when it was their chance to rule the world and live peacefully. Yeah, I am speaking about a novel that is set in the world of animals. It is one of the best humorous anthropomorphic crime fictions I have ever read. First, I thought it’s going to be like a story where animals behave and nudge the overall plot, with least human intervention, as it was in Life of Pie. Well, I was totally taken aback when I got under the skin of the story. Here animals are ruling the world, they are like humans – they talk, manage offices, the entire commercial cycle, and so on.

The novel is set in some other time, long after human stopped existing. So the animals are proud of themselves – they are doing great than the humans – but only a deep dig reveals other startling facts. For instance, a goat was trying to blow off the dam of the Noah’s kingdom. The goat was furious, as animals too, like humans, failed to make the world a good and peaceful world.

Anyway, let’s not distract from the main story. The novel is a noir – crime, suspense, and thrill – all spiced up in one. Much part of the novel is occupied by two detectives (also a sort of lead characters): Frank Penguin and Chico Monkey. Frank Penguin is a lead detective in the town. His partner cum friend Lucas Panda goes missing. Frank and Chico kick off the investigation to find the kidnappers. They rattle here and there, grab some pesky animals, but to no avail. As they move deep inside, a different web of corruption and evil deeds challenge them. Will they find out the truth behind Lucas’ missing or land up cracking nutty jokes?

The author has done a brilliant job by showing animals with positions and roles; they aren’t shallow and wild as they could have been into a human world. Though it is a detective fiction, it lacks that seriousness and intensity because it is written in a humorous tone. People that love lighthearted and no-blood crime novels, will find this a gem. The pace and length of the novel was perfect. Considering it as a debut work of Mr. Bird, I think he is inspired by legendary cartoon characters and this novel can be picked by children and adult in the same gusto.

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