Dog-Gone Cat Chase - A Lamma Island Story

31 Mar 2006 by intern22


Jay Scott Kanes, Cairns Media

Set on Hongkong’s Lamma Island, this sweet little novel takes all the eccentricities of this little island enclave and amplifies them, which anyone living in Hongkong will appreciate as Lamma is considered a world unto itself.

Lamma Island is considered a haven for expatriates in Hongkong who live there to escape the crowded city and have room for pets to roam. Unfortunately, where there are pets, there are also abandoned animals which is where this tale begins.

The story is partly written from the point of view of three kittens: Not, Dot and Pause, who are literally thrown out and rescued in the nick of time. They grow up to be extremely fat cats roaming at will over Lamma, and it is in describing their thoughts and actions that the book really takes off. Curiously, the author does not explain the strange names the cats have, nor does he bother to pun on them which is a lost opportunity for humor. That said, the cats’ adventures through the back streets of Lamma and surrounding hills are told in a lively manner with a hint of danger. And it will bring a wry smile to the lips of anyone who has seen the packs of stray dogs and cats on the streets of Lamma, and yes, they really are an organised bunch.

On top of the animal adventures are the human ones, mainly focused on capturing the notorious Lamma Poisoner who has been deliberately placing tainted meat all over the island. And with Lamma being the pet paradise that it is, cats and dogs are dying in kennel loads.  Again anyone remotely familiar with Hongkong will recognise the thinly veiled reference to a real life poisoner (operating in the Mid-Levels enclave), who has been frightening pet owners for years.

However, it is in writing about humans, and especially Chinese adults, that the book fails and becomes stereotyped. The author puts absurd words in their mouths that no self respecting Chinese person would use, which makes it difficult to take them seriously. Overall, a fun easy read but limited appeal outside of Hongkong.

Timothy Wong

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