Li’l Tom, cat detective at the Pussyfoot Detective Bureau of Telegraph Hill, is back—this time, to solve the case of the New Year Dragon!
Small animal deaths, art and jewel thefts, and a sinister, perhaps even supernatural, being lurking in the fog and shadows have been plaguing San Francisco and making the city’s four-legged residents afraid to venture out alone. Could these incidents be related? It’s up to Li’l Tom to find out.
With the help of his sidekick, the lovely Calico cat, Lola, and several other unlikely animal assistants, Li’l Tom plunges into San Francisco’s Chinatown, Union Square, Russian Hill, and even the famous annual New Year Parade to crack the case. Along the way, improbable beasts and unhinged villains thwart his every move. Can he succeed in solving the case before it’s too late—before the Year of the Dragon is upon him?
It would soon be the Year of the Dragon. His year. He had waited ten years for this—since he was only a fourth of the size he was now and a mere whippersnapper. He was now fully grown and could no longer resist the overwhelming draw of his master’s summons. He knew it was risky to leave the comfort of his temperature-controlled habitat, especially in this cold and clammy climate, but the allure of the call was too great. Remaining in his cozy den was no option. He was instinctually aware that he was destined for greater exploits and now was the time to make his move.
The ancient cat sat stone-like in the spacious basement of his Chinatown lair, his satin robes draped about him. He was in a deep trance, his only movement the rising and falling of his chest with his heavy breaths, and the fluttering in and out of his long whiskers that draped down each side of his mouth along the length of his body and to the floor. This was the time his apprentice would finally join him, and they would unite to accomplish great things. He had created the perfect, sultry environment for his follower and the basement was scorching, to say the least. As he concentrated on summoning his servant, his breathing became more and more shallow, sweat springing from his brow and dripping down his whiskers as well as the long tendril of fur that descended from the patch on his chin. His body began to sway to and fro with the mental strain, until he finally passed out and oozed onto the dank pavement of the basement floor.
As the large creature ripped apart the last vestiges of the reinforced fence with his serrated teeth—he had gradually been working on weakening it behind a row of hedges for months and hiding the damage with brush— the little one watched with curiosity from the tree. He had recently grown old enough to leave the tree, but he was used to it and preferred to sleep up there. He had been observing from his vantage point the large one’s slow-but-steady wreckage of the fence, but did not know what to make of it.
As the large one slithered out into the night through the jagged hole he had created, the little one wondered why he would leave the safety of the secure habitat. There, all they had to do all day long was lounge about on the warm rocks, or for a treat, move into one of the extra-heated spaces for a nice sauna. They were also provided all of their meals, always consisting of some sort of poor, helpless animal, lower on the food chain, which the little one could not get used to.