|Lilian Jackson Braun: The Cat Who Brought Down the House|
Books (Paperback), ISBN 0515136557
The Cat Who books number among my favorite series, remaining on that select list for fifteen years now. Some installments I enjoyed more than others. In Braun's latest, The Cat Who Brought Down the House, the author includes many of my favorite elements.
In earlier books, mysterious Jim Qwilleran with his magnificent moustache, world-weary ways, and his psychic feline companions Yum Yum and Ko Ko stood among my top favorites of this series. More recently the setting and social interactions of the small insular Pickax community and Moose County, 400 miles north of everywhere, grew more fascinating. Qwilleran's home in a four-story round apple barn, his social standing and philanthropic projects drew me in faster than the cats. And I do adore cats.
Braun visits the cast of well-known characters and introduces a few new faces, opening the book with "Who was Thelma Thackeray?"
Thelma, a wealthy 82-year-old Moose County native who spent the previous 55 years as a successful restaurateur in California, returns to her roots and moves into a Victorian house on Pleasant Street in Pickax. She brings a menagerie of Amazon parrots and a collection of art masquerading as hats.
Her twin brother, who died "a year or so ago" under questionable circumstances, lived in the area. Natives remember him for his gentle healing touch and as veterinarian-founder of a well-respected animal clinic in a nearby community. The veterinarian's son enjoys a less than savory reputation, however, and tongues wag when Thelma puts her name and resources behind this ne-er-do-well's latest project.
In The Cat Who Brought Down the House, the murder investigation and cats take a backseat to Qwilleran's social activities, meals, weekly newspaper columns, and tidbits of history and trivia. The book hints that Qwilleran's companion, Polly the librarian, will soon make a major life change, but it otherwise meanders at a comfortable pace until the final chapters. Then the text races to the end as if the author overshot her word allotment and must quickly and succinctly finish.
I enjoyed The Cat Who Brought Down the House. The book provides the opportunity to visit with old friends, but for an example of Braun's best writing, start with earlier books in the series.
The biggest mystery, for me at least, circles around the author whose photograph remains the same in this nineteenth installment as in the first. Who is Lilian Jackson Braun? Now that mystery, I anxiously await solving.
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