Gottergleich is the eighth book of the Felidae series, published in Germany in 2012.
The book is unique for being the first of the series to be a science-fiction novel rather than a noir or thriller fiction.
The main moral issues concern the morality of the right of those who have power, to exercise it for what they judge to be the greater good. The novel also includes criticism of undercover and secretive government operations as for the militarism of the human race.
For the first time the book gives an exact day of events (between the 10th and 11th of June 2012). It also shows that the Francis's City is infact Berlin: having both a subway, and also being the home of the German Chancellery.
Francis is enjoying a rest in the garden after having eaten with Junior and Sancta when a stranger greets him: an unknown slender black male named Pi. Pi displays a very unique behaviour: the ability to communicate with Francis without spoken words! The rushed meeting is stopped by a dangerous event: Gustav has forgot to close the front door of the house while taking out junk and Sancta runs straight out of the door, curious to look at the view of the front of their home from the street.
Francis follows her, aware that that section of the street has always been dangerous because of the speed of cars and vehicles. As Francis expected, a motorbike appears and Sancta is frozen by fear; unexpectedly the motorcyclist manages to miss Sancta and hits Francis instead.
Francis is brought to a veterinarian and, despite being barely conscious, Francis undestands that he's going to face brain surgery, both to identifiy and remove an anomaly seen on his x-rays.
While he is being x-rayed, Francis has a vision of the black cat, Pi, speaking to him and moments later during the operation, something uneplainable happens.
Francis finds himself again in the garden before the incident with the motorcycle. But something even more strange happens: time seems to go backwards, including the movements of objects and creatures. Even Francis can't control his backwards movements.
The event doesn't last for long, and Francis speaks with Junior and Sancta about the issue, meeting only concerns about his own mental sanity. Determined to solve the mystery, Francis checks Archie's clock for the rest of the night (after preventing Sancta from running out of the house), but he falls asleep only to find himself again in the garden at the starting point!
This time, there are not backwards time-running events (apart for the night's one) and after speaking again with Sancta and Junior, the female suggest politely to pay a visit to a psychiatrist cat.
Putting aside his pride, Francis goes to visit Sigmund (a red Persian that shares the name of the famous human psychiatrist). Sigmund is friendly with Francis and performs an hypnosis session on Francis, only to lure him out of his home and he attempts to force him to launch himself from the high cliff under the terrace of the isolated villa.
Suddenly, the mysterious Pi appears. He manages to push Sigmund down the abyss and save Francis. In the rushed moment, Pi manages to explain being "both true, both fruit of his imagination" and that there are enemies "living in two worlds" searching for Francis.
In confirmation of his words, a large number of mysterious black cats appear, surrounding the pair. Pi launches himself into the void (in an appearent suicide) while Francis is captured.
Francis is brought into an abandoned industrial complex, where he's rallied with other normal cats captured by the mysterious black felines. There each cat is greeted by a normal brother, and Francis meets a multicolor male named Max that explains his job as a "lawyer." He and the other normal cats are aware of the time running backward but remain silent and try to help the other brothers and sisters in front of the judgment of the Brotherhood of Black Cats.
Francis witnesses the judgment of a young white cat that, as Francis previously noticed that time is running backward, is defened by the lawyer. The lawyer fails and the young cat is ultimately condemned (as it was decided that the white cat will never remain silent about his discovery) to be launched into the "Morf", a mysterious cavity at the center of the hall with mists flowing out from it.
The detective doesn't wast time and verbally attacks the court for their actions and the actions of their mysterious Brotherhood. The black cats display a firm attitude, explaining that their action (despite being regretful) are for a superior deed. Francis is quickly sentenced to be pulled into the Morf, and Francis notice how the cavity seems to have both organic and both mecnahical features, linked with the frantic works of a number of black cats that operate with technical controls.
Just while Francis is going to be pushed inside the Morf, something of strange happens: the pannels with levers and buttons, that were already displaying fatigue, seems to malfunction and Francis....
... find himself again into his garden after having had his lunch with Sancta and Junior!
This time Francis has an important clue, because Max has told him of having a physicist as master. The detective manage to find the Max's home and he's surprised to find Bluebeard resting there. His friend confirm at Francis what he ever suspected (that Bluebeard was a stray without stable home) but while searching for Max, Francis find only his dead body and later the same Bluebeard display a very anormal behaviour attacking his friend. During the violent clash, Francis is forced to strike a death's blow to his friend, but just as he start to mourn him, time start to run backward again and he found himself into his garden.
Now Francis find quickly Bluebead, that confirm of having took a temporary residence in that house but of not being aware of what was happening (and Bluebeard display is more common and friendly behaviour). After a detailed explain, Francis and Bluebeard follow a new track, because in Max's house Francis has found papers with a link of his own master Gustav and the one of Max (both are professors). Strangely the door of Gustav's studious is locked but Bluebeard manage to break an hole charging against it.
Two important clues are now found: Francis find an ancient Ecyptian imagine showing something of similar to the "Morf" he was almost pushed inside by the Brotherhood of Black. Bluebeard find a paper about the re-opening of the Egyptian museum, that involves the same Gustav, and with the name of Max's master wrote on the paper.
The Museum is far, but Bluebeard has the solution: using the subway.
The pair manage to take a train but when it was time to exit, Bluebeard remain strucked between all the human legs of the other passengers and Francis is alone. While the detective start to wonder if he can try to reach his friend taking another train, he meets an unexpected inhabitant of the underground: Sybilla, a Belinese race she-cat that lives in very poor conditions after having escaped from his human masters.
With surprise, Francis realize that Sybilla too is aware of the time's alteration (now Francis is exactly aware of the lenght, because the cycles repeat themselves every 8 minutes and 56 seconds).
After having reached the museum, Francis and Sybilla witness a mysterious talk among two men, just to be interrupted by a third man that shot with a silencer gun and kill both of them (even if the second victim had apparently links with his own murderer and did not expected to be killed). The identity of the two victims is soon revelaed: they are the same Gustav (that seemed to want reveal in public a secret he had just discovered linked with Ancient Egypt) and the physicis (the master of Max) that lured Gustav into the trap just to be killed too by the same assassin he was collaborating with.
Sybilla is scared and surprised by the cold reaction of Francis but the detecive explain himself: after all time is running backwards.
Following the killer, Francis and Sybilla watch a room filled with guests, among them there is even the Foreign Minister, and they seems to be in friendly term with the killer. Francis suspect and wonder about the possibily that the Government was involved in such dark event. They follow again the killer and witness the employments removing a number of crafts and statues from the museum, all arts concerning cats. Francis and Sybilla manage to enter inside a truck to discover the final destination. However the killer show himself inside the truck and while the vehicle start its run, a fight erupt between Francis and the man that was aware of being followed and seems to be aware of intelligence of cats.
During the fight, a statue crash over the pair and the man is killed while Francis remain struck.
At this point, Sybilla show herself as an enemy for Francis: she's going to kill him cutting his throat but reaveal that it's not the whole "universe" to run backward in time, just the Earth.
Just a moment before being killed, the big statue that had killed the man has a sudden and incredible trasnformation (with an explosion flesh) and a cat is revealed: Pi. The mysterious cat quickly kill Sybilla and then while speaking to Francis he reveal again of being not a "spirit" neither a supernatural being: just someone as Francis, with a different degree of technology.
Again Pi gives help Francis, and the the detective realize that all is connected with an important meeting of world's leaders that had to be done. The same truck is going there and when Francis start wondering what he actually have to do, Pi disappears.
The truck stops under the governative building with an huge warehouse full with governative secrets: the crafts and statues with cats, done by the ancient Egyptians, are destined to remain hidden there too.
Francis manage to reach an elevator and then walking inside a corridor, he's welcomed by a lady Minister, the woman is friendly with the cat but she has also drunk and is growing even more depressed and hysteric for not being invited in the important meeting of politicians.
The Minister is even more driven crazy by her feelings that launch herself against the glass window (keeping Francis with her) and fall into the room conference. Francis (differently from the woman) survives the fall and while being under the glance of all the world's leader, he silently move away from there just to discover that the cats of the Brotherhood of Black were into the room too with the meeting with the world's presidents and leaders.
Suddenly, while talking with the leader of the black cats, Francis experience again the runnning backward of the time, but he manage to force himself to be firm on that point and manage to return just few seconds before.
This allow Francis to quickly hide himself after the sudden fall with the lady Minster from the glass window.
The cat manage to listen an important debate between the main human world's leaders (including the presidents of USA, Italy and the Chanceller of Germany) and the leader of the Brotherhood of Black: the mysterious cats force the humans to accept that time run backward and that they've to make disappear all the ones that notice the event.
Suddenly however a Great Dane of the security find Francis and force him to stop listening the dialogue. Francis is chased and manage to lure the dog and the other dogs of the security exactly on the delegation of the black cats, creating chaos.
He try to escape just to be confronted by the Great Dane, named Kurt.
Kurt chase Francis inside the large warehouse, the pair ends inside the elevator and Francis manage to actionate it, reaching another secret stair with a personal underway trainline for the Chanceller. Kurt now is more friendly and ask Francis to tell all that he knew (Kurt was a guard dog, with no informations about what was happening between the world's leaders, the Brotherhood of Black and the time's events).
The simple-minded dog however point a strong problem: if neither the most important world's presidents could do anything against the Brotherhood of the Black, what could they do?
Suddenly from the secret trainline arrive a small convoy and while Francis and Kurt hides among the darkness, they witness how it was a group of soldiers that was carrying what was surely a nuclear device.
Francis and Kurt follow them and reach the place were the autonom generators to give energy at the governative building were placed. With surprise, the pair wittness how the black cats were all been captured by men and were put in cages, while guarded by men. Into the room was now visible the "Morf", with the generator that were clearly keeping it stable and the men were going to place the nuclear device just over it.
The two friends realize how such move could be very dangerous expecially if the Morf is a sort of channel that manage to alterate the physicis of the earth (and cause the time alteration). Kurt run toward the men and attempt to distract them with success: he's ultimately shot twice and then killed by the other guard dogs but Francis has managed to reach the nuclear device, the cat however can't stop the device that's launched inside the vortex.. with the same Francis.
While falling inside the Morf, Francis suddenly remember how the white cat that was pushed inside the Morf by the Brotherhood of Black didn't seems scared by death: he was rather scared to "left his home".
Fracis remember both the phisycist paper that Bluebeard had found and the same Egyptian's craft he've seeen in Gustav's room (with a pharaon pointing a star in the sky) and realize how the Morf was lauching him toward a different world.
Inside the vortex, Francis witness stars behind a wall of multicolor energy and realize how the humans world's leader were tired of the perceived threat by the Brotherhood of Black and after having captured them, managed to create the space-tunnel just to launch the nuclear device and strike the world on the opposite side.
Francis decide to attempt to stop the countdown of the missile, but after frantic failures to manage to stop it with one last and desperate attempt: a spray of the feline acid urine on the electric controls.
The countdown of the missile was stopped just in time and finally Francis and the now-dead missile land on the surface of a desertic world, among high dunes of sand.
There he's is greeted by Pi, that welcome him into this world, Chronos (Francis is a bit disappointed to know that his efforts to stop the device were pointless because it could have never detonated in this world, according Pi).
Now Francis see better the details of the strange alien cat, being taller and with too much sharp muzzle and ears to be an Earth's cat. However Pi show him an huge city where they were walking to and reaveal how that world was the original homeworld of the felidae genus.
Francis is brought to speak with a group of other black cats, and he learn a number of things: first of all that all of them are named "Pi", then after having learned other particular details of them (as that they doesn't need to feed themselves, being connected with Chronos, and that their lives seems to be prolonged to immortality). These felines lived actually as God-like creatures (and thus the title of the novel, "Gottergleicht") and sometimes (after some millennia) they got bored by this and try to experience different style of life.
One day, they spotted the earth and decided to visit it: they were welcomed by the Ancient Egyptians and were venerated as Gods. After years, many of them returned to Chronos but some remained and being not immortal, they started to die. Their children, generation by generation, started to turn different due evolution and turned into the domestic cats while the men forgotten to have worshipped them exactly as the cats forgot to have been originated from another world. Only some few cats (mainly black pelted) remained aware of Chronos and shared contacts with the Morf, that was the Brotherhood of Black.
The actual time running back event was created by them to manage to save all their "cousins" of the Earth, because the men was keeping to destroy and damage the life on the planet and threatening and worsening the life of common cats, another issue was that the humans had discovered the planet of Chronos and even if a direct contact was far in time, that was still a concern for the alien cats. The "Pi" explaining this to Francis claim that the killing he had seen would have been temporary event, altered by the fact that the they could twist and modify the time. Pi (the Francis's friend) explain that has been surprised by the intelligence of the cat and had wished him to try to convince the rest of his brothers that this wasn't the proper way. Francis make questions and discover how many earth's cats were already been trasnfered on Chronos (repeating each 8 minutes and 56 seconds the same day, they were able to contact and find many cats and putting them into the Morf), but they weren't mixing well with the Chronos's cats.
Francis manage to make a speach about how the earth's cats can't be used to live on Chronos, that despite the hard life and the many problem and suffering on the Earth, life there can be surely better then the flat life on Chronos and they could never abandon what it's actually their unique homeworld. With his explain of the feeling of the Earth's cats, Francis manage to put in trouble the statement of the other felines and ultimately manage to resolve the whole crysis.
While talking alone with Pi (his friend), Francis make questions about the possibility of alternate realities (as for Bluebeard attacking him during one of the time backrunning event) and if the will be returned to his very own reality. Pi tell him to have trust and accomplish the Francis desire to return at his own true reality.
And so it happens, with Francis ready to be subjected to the brain surgery. During the unconscious status of the operation, Francis meets again with Pi for one last goodbye. Then the cat fall into the darkness and while all his mind seems to drift away and be lost into a void, a light appear in distance and voices are heard by him.