What is a home without pets? A lot quieter than a home with pets on a mission. That's what the Robertson family has, when their Birman cat, Purrlock, and their Basset Hound, Watson, set off on the trail of a thief whose light fingers are lifting just enough small items to get one small boy in trouble.

Mystery is thick on the ground, and in the goldfish bowl, when Purrlock and Watson discover that neighbours are losing some very odd things, all of them in homes where the new kid on the block has been doing chores.

Far be it for the furred and fractious friends to keep their noses out of things. The duo sets off on a round of the neighbourhood animals to see who has seen what, when, where and possibly who.

As they work their way through potential witnesses, and a purring blackmailer, Purrlock and Watson run down the list of the victims, gleaning bits of information from pets who live where the items were taken.

Meanwhile, Purrlock discovers that they are not the only ones hot on the trail. Who is their shadow? What is that hiding behind every bush and hedge that they pass? Is it the thief? Or just the hyperactive imagination of a cat that hasn't eaten in two hours?

Bickering as they go, the sharp-eyed and long-eared duo, discover more than they bargained for, or know what to do with. Caught in the dilemma of needing to find the thief but having to hide something themselves, the fur really flies when solutions to both problems, collide.

Purrlock Holmes and the Case of the Vanishing Valuables is a middle-grade mystery novel for ages 7-14, written with the aim of keeping young readers turning the pages, and then picking up another book, afterwards. With characters molded on the real antics of real pets, a dash of imagination and panache, and a healthy dose of humour, you'll have to take the book away, when it's bedtime.

Winner of the 2005 Muse Medallion

Young Adult Fiction