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A hamster is a better pet than a dog for someone who spends long days solving crimes.

What a character!

I’m a sucker for books with pets in them, so sooner or later I’ll read the best-selling book, “Making Rounds With Oscar: The Extraordinary Gift of an Ordinary Cat.” It’s a non-fiction story about a cat in a nursing home who seems to know when a patient is about to die and curls up on his or her bed. That’s one cat I don’t want to meet anytime soon.

I book-worthy feline I’d like to meet is “Dewey, the Small Town Library Cat Who Touched the World.” A friend lent me this book, which is a great story, although no literary masterpiece.

“Dewey” was more fun to read than “Marley and Me: Life and Love With the World’s Worst Dog,” another book lent to me by a friend. “Marley” is a good story and well-written, but the author spends a bit too many pages describing the breed. I really don’t care about the finer points of Labrador-dom.

Pets make good sidekicks in mystery/detective fiction. There’s Koko, of course, the brilliant Siamese cat in the Lilian Jackson Braun mysteries, “The Cat Who … (fill in the blank).” And there’s Pearl, the Wonder Dog, in the Spenser novels by the late Robert B. Parker.

Another dog in fiction who seems like a good companion is Martha, the border collie owned by Detective Lindsay Boxer in the Women’s Murder Club novels by James Patterson and friends. There’s a problem, though, with Lindsay; she seems to leave Martha alone for long stretches, and Patterson often forgets to mention who let the dog out over Lindsay’s long days solving crimes.

Janet Evanovich solved the problem of lax pet owners by giving Stephanie Plum a hamster, Rex, who needs nothing more than a cache of hamster pellets while the erstwhile bounty hunter floats in and out of her apartment.

Rex is a superhero pet – he’s survived countless explosions and fires in the Trenton, N.J., apartment over the course of 15 novels (I recommend them all). He’s a long-lived hamster, too, considering “One for the Money,” when Rex was introduced, came out in 1994. (A typical life span for a hamster is two or three years.) “Sizzling Sixteen” will be out in June, and more likely than not, the 16-year-old Rex will be in his cage again, accepting a raisin or two from Stephanie when she happens by her apartment.

Let’s hope Oscar the cat skips the Plum household for quite awhile.

Who’s your favorite?

Is it Mrs. Murphy & Co. in the series by Rita Mae Brown (with Squeaky Pie Brown)? Carole Nelson Douglas’ Midnight Louie or Laurien Berenson’s poodles? Tell us who you snuggle up on the couch to read and send us a picture of your favorite partner-in-crime pet.

E-mail critters@jg.net and please send photos as JPEG attachments. As always, we need the name of your pet, your name and where you live.

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