From 1927 to 1958, Walter R. Brooks wrote a series of humorous adventure stories featuring the talking animals of the Bean Farm in upstate New York. This is the third one, and it set the format for most of the ones that followed, focusing on Freddy the Pig, a smart animal willing to take up any new plan or idea, a poet, a writer, and a natural leader. Jinx the cat is his frequent side-kick and protector, and his friends include Mrs. Wiggins the cow. Those three form a detective agency at the farm after Freddy reads some Sherlock Holmes stories. Before long they have real cases to work on, including the theft of a toy train from the Bean farmhouse, which they discover is being used by Simon the rat and his family to steal grain from the barn, as a sort of armored car where Jinx can’t get at them. Freddy also discovers some human robbers living in a remote house in the woods, but his biggest case is one where Jinx is accused of killing a crow. The book ends with a classic courtroom drama that’s both funny and clever.
The Bean animals (and others they meet) can talk, and are essentially humans in animal form, though in the early books like this one, they don’t talk to humans, making Freddy’s detective work against the human criminals more difficult. The books are full of social commentary and wise insights into human nature disguised as animal behavior. I loved the entire series, and will gradually reread them all. My copy of this book is the Overlook Press facsimile edition from 1998, Overlook reprinted the full series. I recommend them highly.