The Great Escape
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Computer buff, Millie, is having an unsatisfactory summer as helper to her father in his temporary job of window cleaner, which involves weekly sessions at the Haverham lab. Just as she is concluding that life could not be any more boring, a van draws up at the back doors she is cleaning. A man engages her in uneasy conversation while shifting some mysterious crates. Millie is sure she can hear meowing and later her father admits that the lab is probably engaged in some animal testing. On their next visit, she unwittingly helps a cat to escape – a talking cat. It transpires that cats from Belgium, safely distant from the lab’s illegal trade, are being kidnapped and operated on so that they can talk, but who is behind this piece of animal cruelty? Millie’s search for answers leads her to friendship with a teenage animal rights protestor and his whiz kid 10-year-old brother, Ben. Just how the unlikely trio rescue Max’s fellow cats and expose Playmatic (the toy company seeking to market the cats) makes for a light, but very entertaining story.
Comedian and radio performer, Natalie Haynes brings a lovely dry wit to a subject presumably close to her heart. Max, in a subtly European-inflected English, has a keen eye for human absurdities and pretensions and is a past master of sarcastic put-downs. But faced with Millie’s sleuthing abilities, Jake’s courage and Ben’s precocious hacking skills, even he has to concede that perhaps there’s some point to at least the child of the human species. Technical wizardry, a humorous hint of cat romance, big-business greed and buffoonery are just some of the sparkling ingredients in this feline version of the 101 Dalmatians for the 00s.