"The Cat Who Could Read Backwards" – Lillian Jackson Braun

I wanted a mystery. I don’t know how I mentioned the Cat Who… series, but Julie told me she loved them as a kid and read almost all of them.

So what the hey. I rented it from the library.

I’m going to struggle writing this book review because of how sporadically I did read it.

I don’t know what it was about this. The reading was easy. The characters easy to identify (I tend to be one of those people who, halfway through the book, go “hold up. Who’s Bob? What’s he look like? Where’d he come from? Wait, why does everyone hate him??“) And the chapters weren’t that long. So I don’t know.

I’m not absolutely sure I gave it a chance. I just never fully got into the book.

The series is old. But in case you didn’t know, the Cat Who.. books, or this one in particular, the first one, begins when Jim Qwilleran, a former crime reporter, has to settle for a job as an art writer. He’s getting older, and that was the only job available, and he has to eat.

They say the art beat is the most popular section of the newspaper, which usually isn’t the case. Qwilleran takes the job and steps into a world of pride, strange triangle drawings and junk sculptures ludicrously called “art”, young talent, and a strange and overall despise and hatred for a art critic called George Bonifield Mountclemens the Third.

Soon, of course, people start dying in strange ways; falling off of scaffolds, being stabbed with chisels and knives. Qwilleran is soon in his element again. But this time, with a strange friend.

With no bias or interest in the art world, he begins renting a room in the infamous Mountclemen’s house and befriends his cat, who he calls Koko for short. Unexpectantly, Qwilleran and the cat are the ones who solve the mystery, together.

If you’ve read these, you’ll probably laugh, but I was totally waiting for the cat to literally talk. As in Sabrina The Teenage Witch. To clarify, no, the cat never talks. He uses flicks of his ears and meows to convey his point. Maybe this was what distracted me through the whole mystery. I was just focused on the cat. At first I thought the cat was the critic, and that’s why no one ever saw him. So I pictured the cat talked into a dictating machine and sent the recordings into the newspaper every day, just to set yet another uproar in the art world. Crafty cat.

Yeah, no. There are crimes. But this fiction stays as close to reality as possible. No magically talking cats.

VIOLENCE/GORE: There are premeditated murders. But not very graphic. There’s a stabbing in the neck, not very described if I remember correctly. And another stabbing that is only described by the blood left on the floor.

LOVE/SEX: Qwilleran has an interest in a woman. But this is an old book, and he’s the gentlemanly type. So maybe the worse he does is talk about her leg and figure once, if at all.

DRUGS/ALCOHOL: Qwilleran and the men at the newspaper are frequently at the bar, drinking, discussing stories, and asking the bartender if he’s heard any news. Qwilleran prefers his usual tomato juice instead of a spiked drink, but the other boys aren’t against a little alcohol in their glasses.

At least with this series, I can live my dreams of being a witty newspaperman vicariously through Qwilleran. =-) That’s nice.

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