Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.
Celebrity Dish, by M. R. Anglin
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, March 2017, trade paperback $4.99 (100 [+ 1] pages), Kindle $1.99.
M. R. Anglin has written five previous books in her Silver Foxes series. The foxes with metallic, silvery fur who controlled electricity had made themselves and their nation of Expermia the masters of the world of Clorth. 1,500 years ago the other nations of Clorth joined together in invading Expermia and killing all the silver foxes. They have been extinct until now. J. R. Dunsworth (wolf), a criminal with a soft heart, rescues two orphaned fox kits and raises them as his own children. When Xenatha (Xena), a gray fox, approaches puberty, her fur begins to turn silvery and she develops electrical powers that she can’t control. The first four Silver Foxes novels tells what happens to Xena; her younger sister Kathra; their foster father J. R.; Hunter, the boyfriend Xena finds; and the villains who plot to kill the others and control Xena’s powers for themselves.
Book 5 is the small 79-page Interlude, and it does seem like an interlude in the series. J.R. takes the others to hide on the Isle de Losierres, the most exclusive and richest vacation resort on Clorth. He hadn’t revealed that the wolf businesswoman who runs the Isle is his long-suffering sister Chloe. Xena and the others finally have a chance to relax and bond as a family. Xena’s adolescent foster cousin Mira (wolf) introduces her to her friends (Shandra, a tigress, Dori, a chameleon, and Katie, a raccoon), and Xena, still hiding her silver fox nature, begins to live as a normal teen. Xena’s enemies search for her, apparently in vain.
Celebrity Dish, the sixth Silver Foxes book, is a second interlude. Jessica, the hottest pop superstar on Clorth, comes to the Isle de Losierres for a vacation and to give a concert. Jessica is a bird, but what kind is a mystery and part of her mystique – she constantly appears in new costumes to keep everyone guessing.
“One was a tan mongoose [her manager] and the other a bird of … indeterminate species. She had the yellow feathers of a canary, but her tail had the shape of an ostrich’s. Those tail feathers filled the seat so that the mongoose sat tilted toward the door. The feathers on her head curled and swirled around her face, and a crest of three feathers extended beyond them. She had the curved beak of a red-tailed hawk. Her arms – wings, really – rested on her lap. She wore a red, asymmetrical dress that grazed her upper thigh. The dress was so short that Alex, the mongoose, feared that any movement would show of [sic.] her … “treasures” … so he insisted she wear black tights underneath.” (p. 14)
The real reason is that “Dan”, an obsessed fan, has been threatening to find out Jessica’s real species and reveal it. She hopes that the exclusiveness and security of the Isle will keep him away. Hunter, Xena’s boyfriend, is hired as part of her security, and he brings Xena along as Zed, his assistant. The job looks like an easy one, until anomalies about “Dan” begin appearing; and it looks like his real goal is not to reveal Jessica’s true species but to murder her.
A further complication is whether Hunter and Xena can find out who “Dan” is and save Jessica without revealing Xena’s own secret.
Celebrity Dish (cover by the author with Tazia Hall) is a complete story, but there is the brief reappearance of a ghostly German Shepherd from Interlude and a coda that, unknown to Xena and her friends, her enemies are closing in that promises more adventures in the future.
Celebrity Dish is an enjoyable story, but despite all of the anthropomorphic characters – the cat celebrity reporter, the pelican nightclub bouncer, the skunk assassin – and Xena’s electromagnetic silver fur, it’s really the same kind of all-human thriller that I’ve seen in countless 1930s B-movie murder mysteries, especially the Charlie Chan series. Anglin has been developing the Silver Foxes slowly – besides the six books, there are the short stories “On the Run from Isofell” in the anthology Gods With Fur (FurPlanet Productions), and “My Experiences With J. R. Dunsworth“, As Told By Mira”, a 29-page Kindle purchase – but I hope that she returns to full-scale novels soon.
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