Who Killed Kathleen Gingers?, by Gary Akins – book review by Fred Patten.
by Patch O'Furr
Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.
Who Killed Kathleen Gingers?, by Gary Akins. Revised edition. Illustrated.
Austin, TX, Furry Logic Productions, February 2010, trade paperback $15.00 (136 pages).
For those who object to funny-animal fiction – stories in which there is no reason for the characters to be anthropomorphic animals instead of regular humans – Who Killed Kathleen Gingers? can be easily skipped. For those who don’t mind it as long as the story is well-written, and who like crime noir murder mysteries in the Sam Spade/Philip Marlowe/Shell Scott/Travis McGee tradition, don’t miss Who Killed Kathleen Gingers?
Calico Rock sheriff’s office detective Allan Connell (ferret) is sent to investigate the reported murder of vivacious Hollywood star Kathleen Gingers (mouse) at her palatial Pacific Beach vacation home. When Gingers herself answers the door, it looks like the report was a prank – until Connell and Gingers find a real body, that of Gingers’ murdered private secretary, who looks very much like her.
Whodunit, and why? Does the popular Gingers have enemies? Or did the bland secretary, who was recently hired with nothing much really known about her? Was the secretary killed by mistake for Gingers, and is Gingers still in danger? Connell is faced with the crime noir detective’s usual comic-relief (but not totally incompetent) assistant, mysterious clues, and lots of suspects: an unconvincingly indignant husband, an overly-jealous wife, a too-affable producer and his hysterical associate who is very eager to accuse a particular suspect, a sultry mistress with a secret, the vengeful father of a long-dead friend …
Akins writes the right crime noir prose:
“The ocelot-fem was lying face-down on a beach towel by the edge of the pool, head cradled in her arms, sunning herself. She was sleek and well-toned, with graceful legs that went from firm, muscular thighs down to slender ankles and feet. The black and silver of the bikini pants made a nice contrast against her black-spotted, golden-yellow fur, and as near as I could tell that was about their only real contribution since the cut of the cloth left an extremely generous portion of each shapely buttock exposed to view. Her tail lay mostly limp along one leg, the tip twitching slowly every so often. Her fur had been carefully brushed and combed to a healthy, appealing luster, and I just stood there for a moment, appreciating the overall view of her.” (p. 39)
“Then I saw the barrel of the gun appear past the edge of the door, followed by the gun itself, and then by the hand holding the gun, and I had no trouble deciding exactly what that meant.” (p. 73)
There’s a second murder before everything is wrapped up.
This isn’t entirely a funny-animal novel. Connell’s being a ferret (unusually elastic) comes in handy, and he’s addressed sarcastically as Mr. Ferret and Detective Stretch-rat a couple of times. Other characters include a beaver, a cat, a fox, a raccoon, a skunk, a squirrel, and a wallaby. Their fur and tails are mentioned.
This review is in some ways a sequel to my two-part The History of Furry Publishing, where I profiled all of the furry specialty presses: FurPlanet Productions, Rabbit Valley Books, Sofawolf Press, and a couple of minor ones. When it was published here in February, I was asked why I hadn’t included Furry Logic Productions? Because I’d never heard of it. I investigated …`
Furry Logic Productions does exist, but it only publishes the books of its owner, Gary Akins, and – unless you know to mail-order them from him – they’re only available at his dealer’s table at the annual Mephit FurMeet convention in Memphis, Tennessee. Akins explained that he originally wrote Who Killed Kathleen Gingers? for serialization in the fanzine FurryPhile, starting with #5 in September 1995. FurryPhile was discontinued after #10 in January 1998 with his serial still in progress. Akers didn’t want to leave his story unfinished, so he completed it and published it as a booklet from SilverFox Publications in 1999. He later met Mike “Keefur” Preston, who runs a print shop, Paw Pad Printing, in Memphis, Tennessee, at the Mephit FurMeet convention. Keefur prints the MFM’s annual program book. Keefur persuaded Akins to have all his out-of-print fan-fiction republished in 5.5” x 8.5” trade paperback format. Akins has done so as his own Furry Logic Productions, first reprinting Who Killed Kathleen Gingers?, then publishing this 2010 expansion of the story with illustrations (one in full color) by seven furry-fan artists, including the cover by Jeff Pierce.
Furry Logic Productions currently consists of five books by Akins, including two more Allan Connell mysteries; The Widow Who Didn’t Weep and A Prophet Without Honor. He is considering publishing furry fiction by other authors, including the out-of-print “Fornax” series by Matt J. McCullar, about the misadventures of the quintuplet ratel (honey badger) Fornax sisters (named for colors; Pink, Blue, Yellow, Green, and Violet) trying to become a singing quintet in the sleazy pop-music industry.