"Arlo winced at the pain in his tail which a few hours before had been gripped soundly and nastily in the teeth of the other guy and which now showed signs of infection. For the second time this year, Arlo doubted his vocation. The handsome tabby cat who had successfully completed so many heroic missions now wondered whether he still had what it took to be a successful covert operative."
Arlo's Epiphany by Jane Oldaker is a short, little story starring Arlo the Barncat. Arlo is different from your average cat or dog though. He's a covert operative working for the Agency.
What is the Agency? And why was it founded? Well all over the world there are villains and these villains train animals to be villainous and perform villainous deeds (enough with the villainous). So of course an opposing force had to be created.
Like all Agents, Arlo can talk to various species (including humans). The Agency employs its own medical expert, Dr.Phelps, who works undercover as a vet. They also have handlers. Arlo's is Charlie, who debriefs him after every mission. Arlo himself is a "technocat". With his Stealthberry and skills, he's a wizz at all things technical and generally and all round fantastic agent. There is only one aspect that he falls short on- thuggery. Yes he can walk the walk, but not talk the talk.
This worries his old friend (and retired agent) Mahoney. A mature, feral tomcat, his reputation precedes him and none dare mess with the infamous Mahoney. But when Arlo comes visiting and claims to have been attacked (with the bite marks and missing fur to prove it), Mahoney suspects none other than his long-time rival, McTavish. This attack has his MO all over it, but Mahoney must follow Agency rules and they clearly state he is not allowed to attack non-strategic animals. Maybe he can find a way around that rule without actually breaking it?
A fun, little story with plenty of character. Any animal can be an Agent, so we get hilarious characters and situations, such as Agent Brenda Chicken- who can peck with the speed of a striking cobra.
I'm not entirely sure what age group this book is intended for, however. My natural instinct would be younger readers, but there are some rather large words for small children. For example, here are some words I can see younger readers having problems with; avuncular, sporadically; incorrigible; insouciance to name a few. While I realise this could be a good method to teach children what these words mean, I still hesitate to say this is a book for small children.
Also, Arlo may be the name on the cover, but it is Mahoney who we see through the eyes of for most of this book. Not that that's a bad thing (and it may only be in this book that this occurs). I'm assuming this will be a series and we'll hear more from Arlo and friends in the future.
We do get a couple of nice illustrations of a few characters that are pleasant to spy as you scroll through the pages.
I found the subject a little familiar too. For anyone who has ever read the Hank the Cowdog series, you will probably realise what I'm talking about. However, the main difference (aside from the characters and situations being completely different) is that Hank just believed himself to be "Head of Ranch Security", but Arlo actually is an Agent. He can talk to animals and humans and do all the stuff we read about. It's not the fantasy of an imaginative cat.
There are some nice characters that make this book worth the read. If you're interested, why not give it a try?
Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the author through a giveaway. This is not a sponsored review. All opinions are 100% my own.