I received a complimentary copy of this book as a part of a book tour for a fair and honest review. Edgier than a traditional cozy mystery, Clea Simon's The Ninth Life, is the first book in a new series featuring an untraditional hero: a cat. Yes, you read that right, the main character in this story is a cat named "Blackie". A black furred cat rescued from drowning by a pink haired girl named "Care" (aka Carrie Wright). Unlike the traditional "cat" characters usually found in cozies, Blackie is intelligent, thinks in English, independent, concerned about the safety of the girl who saved him and very savvy when it comes to solving a mystery. A homeless girl, "Care" is unusual too - quickly forming a friendship with Blackie, she's determined to find out what happened to her "mentor" - a private investigator who had been recently killed. If you want to try a captivating and different kind of mystery, then this is the book for you. Ms. Simon does an excellent job introducing us to both primary characters, Blackie and Care, right from the start. I easily connected with both of them and worried about their safety as they conducted their investigation on streets filled with some real low life criminals - especially the ones who were somehow connected to the last case Care's mentor, The Old Man, was investigating. Hoping to solve his murder, and maybe take over his business, Care definitely needs Blackie's "cat senses" and instincts to stay safe. I liked how Ms. Simon humanized Blackie and how he devoted he is about keeping Care safe. He definitely knows who to trust, and who not to trust, before she does, though he is hampered by his "feline" abilities when it comes to communication. The secondary characters are mostly criminals or people Care and Blackie can't trust. There is one character Blackie and Care don't agree on; Tick, a young man who Care feels responsible for. Blackie questions his loyalty from the start and doesn't trust him because of something he senses but is unable to "talk" to her about. I admired Care's desire to help Tick, but like Blackie, I sensed his divided loyalties and worried about whether or not he would betray her. There are plenty of twists and turns to keep the reader guessing about what will happen next and what Blackie and Care will discover. The action takes place in the streets, back alleys and less savory parts of town, putting both Blackie and Care in dangerous situations as they deal with drug dealers, thieves, and murderers. While Blackie is a cat, and Care is a young teen, Ms. Simon covers some very dark and mature issues as a part of the stories plot. Will Blackie and Care discover who killed "The Old Man"? Will Blackie be able to help Care find a home off the streets? You'll have to read The Ninth Life to find out. I loved it and can't wait to see where Ms. Simon takes these characters next.