4 out of 4 stars
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The Cat Man by Nick Bruechle is a satirical story of a bizarre religious sect, a self-described "tragicomic love triangle set in a crazy cat cult." Rex is a dog – not literally, but that’s his personality type: loyal, persistent, obedient, and not particularly bright. Chloe, meanwhile, is a cat: spontaneous, promiscuous, charming, calculating, and possessive. So, when Rex's beloved Chloe returns from an overseas trip and asks the smitten carpenter to build her a "cat church" in Perth to promote a religion called Felinism – led by charismatic alpha tom Casper – Rex jumps at the chance. With many Cat Life Centres already operating in the US, Cat Man Casper seeks to expand his fur fetish with a further influx of foxy feline-fancying female followers in Australia. Alas for Rex, Casper already has the catlike Chloe in his claws. However, Casper's wily charms do not wow everyone, and this crazy cat cult could quickly culminate in chaos...
I found Bruechle’s writing brilliant. His book featured effortless high-quality descriptions, such as: “A scatter of rain smattered the path and dusted the pool with tiny dimples.” He had a fantastic, dry sense of humour and included some classic Australian slang: “...he found a parking space and pounced on it, beating an old lady in a battered Gemini by a bee’s dick.” He also applied some awesome alliteration on the odd occasion. As an Aussie myself, I enjoyed this author’s writing style, humour, and many local references. He included enough information about local culture and sport to give readers from other countries a taste of Australia, without going into too much confusing detail.
Each chapter title in The Cat Man referred to a cat trait (or a dog trait) relevant to that particular chapter, such as “Cats are diabolical.” Beneath the chapter title was a clever quote by Casper, the founder of Felinism, explaining the concept and encouraging you to “be more like a cat.” The writing and the plot were both highly entertaining, with a real focus on human relationships – usually compared to cat/cat or cat/dog relationships – and the control one person can have over another (or many others, in Casper’s case).
Overall, The Cat Man was an enthralling, frightening, and satirical study of cult leadership, dynamics, and behaviour, with great character development. I found it especially fascinating to see cult leader Casper’s extreme reactions to negative influences who questioned his actions and motives from outside the group. Bruechle’s solid ending wrapped up the tale nicely; I enjoyed reading how the story ended for Rex, the main protagonist. The editing of this book was also exceptionally good.
While an excellent book, The Cat Man did contain a lot of profanity, which might discourage some from reading it. However, the extreme language did suit the volatile characters who used it. I found this book a quirky, funny, and revealing character piece with a strong moral message. For this reason, I rate The Cat Man 4 out of 4 stars. It would appeal the most to those with an interest in cats, cults, or both, or anyone who enjoys clever writing and a great story. The cult aspect definitely appealed to me, and it didn’t disappoint. The story Casper told believers when they reached Level 3 of Felinism was fantastic...and I do mean fantastic...
The Cat Man
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