Zachariah Smith

Created by L.L. (Linda) Thrasher

“That’s me, Arrow Investigations. I wanted to change the name to Cat’s-Paw, Incorporated, but my sister said no one would get it. It’s from an old fable about a cat sleeping by a fire where a monkey was roasting some chestnuts. When the nuts were done, the monkey used the cat’s paw to pull them out of the fire so he wouldn’t burn his own fingers. People hire me to pull their chestnuts out of the fire.”

Slightly flaky (well, maybe a bit more than that) twenty-nine year old ZACHARIAH SMITH is Mackie, Oregon’s best (and only) private eye, a strapping young feller, with a whole mess of boyish charm and looks that don’t seem to be scaring women away. Too bad he tends to let his little head do the thinking…

Still, he’s basically an alright guy. Zach and his twin sister Carrie grew up in Mackie (with a few wild years in California, before ma and pa decided to move back). Back home, Zack eventually settled down, got married, and became a cop. And then things went south. His wife left him and Zack more or less fell apart and he started messing around with various susbstances. He left the force a step ahead of being canned, and went to work for Jake Matthews, a local private investigator. Then Jake’s ship came in, in the form of a winning lottery ticket, and now Zack’s Mackie’s designated gumshoe.

He lives in a half-finished house he hasn’t worked on since his wife left him, and mopes a lot. His sis calls it “a bad case of inertia.” So, when opportunity knocks with a missing daughter job, he jumps at the chance.

In reviewing his quirky but intriguing debut, 1991’s Cat’s Paw, Inc., The New York Times suggested that Zach should “tone down the sophomoric patter and get a grip on his…libido.”

Me? I thought it was a promising beginning, and I was hoping for a sequel. Eight years later, Dogsbody, Inc., the second Zachariah Smith novel, was finally published, but only digitally, as far as I can tell. Although at the time there were rumours of a third book in the works. So far… radio silence.


According to her Amazon bio, L. L. Thrasher is the author of four mystery novels, including Charlie’s Bones, which won the Spotted Owl Award, an annual award given by the Portland (OR) Friends of Mystery, and one of her short stories, “Sacrifice,” was an Edgar Award Nominee for Best Short Story. She lives in Oregon, and has lived in twelve other states, and intends to go to Hawaii one day(it’s on her bucket list). Previous gigs include librarian, telephone operator, USPS postal clerk, police radio dispatcher, and public school speech therapist, and she enjoys attending plays and other live performances (Cirque du Soleil is her favorite). 


  • What initially attracted me to Cat’s Paw, Inc. was its format: tiny, paperback-sized hardcover with a brightly coloured (PINK!) dust jacket that numbered over 600 pages. It was one of the first entries in Council Oaks’ “Brown Bag Mystery” line (presumably named because their titles could easily fit into a standard brown paper lunch bag). Anyway, the stout little fellow was just begging for attention, tucked between all those rather predictably sombre-looking, regular-sized hardcover mysteries in the Westmount Library.


  • “If we ain’t supposed to eat pussy, why does it look like a taco?”
    — words of what passes for wisdom in Cat’s Paw, Inc.


  • “Amiably pro forma, with the requisite morally romantic hero, sexual come-ons and conundrums, and flashy patter rather than conversation. Still, diverting and capable of stretching to a series.
    Kirkus Reviews on Cat’s Paw, Inc.
  • Dogsbody, Inc. is not your average PI novel, but a step above.”
    — The Drood Review of Mystery



Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith. And thanks to Jeff for the timely retread.

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