Lilian Jackson Braun's new book is her 21st foray into the lives of Jim Qwilleran and the Siamese cats Koko and Yum Yum, and it's a refreshingly written story that is, as usual with Braun, more than a mystery. It's called The Cat Who Saw Stars, and it takes Qwilleran and his feline colleagues up to Moose Lake for a little R & R, which quickly finds the trio looking into the disappearance of a backpacker. The population of Moose Lake and Pickax City will never be the same!
Sure, you remember Pickax City, with its population of 3,000, which might as well be the entire universe to most of its residents. The local paper is called the Something,and the most popular column in the Something is "Straight from the Qwill Pen," Qwilleran's own words of local wisdom, which purportedly draw more readers than the horoscope.
And you remember Yum Yum and Koko, the two cats whose instincts and actions sometimes outwit their owner himself. And who owns whom, anyway?
Right now, those of you who have not yet picked up a Lilian Jackson Braun novel are probably thinking that her books are only for cat lovers and cozy fans, but in fact, The Cat Who Saw Stars stands out as a simply told but major story about a quirky town and its fascinating denizens.
You'll be laughing from the first page, and the mystery, as it becomes darker, is anything but cozy. This is a first-rate story of eccentric characters and an eccentric world and you will sink into it and fall in love with it from the opening pages.
Qwilleran takes his life in stride. He's inherited a ton of money but managestospread the wealth out to Pickax City. As a result, his every move is noticed by the locals.
Wherever he went in the county, he drew attention, being a good-looking fifty-plus and a well-built six-feet-two with a moustache of outstanding proportions. It had a droop that accentuated his melancholy demeanor, and his eyes had a brooding intensity. Yet friends knew him to be amiable, witty, willing to do favors, and fond of taking them to dinner.
What's not to like? But Qwill decides it's time for a break, so he heads up to his somewhat inhospitable cabin on Moose Lake with the bewhiskered pals, and even there, he can't escape his attraction to a mystery.
Don't miss The Cat Who Saw Stars. Whether you've read the other books in the series or not, you'll find this one an amazing read. Braun mixes the humor of a Will Rogers with the characterizations of a Mark Twain, and it's all wrapped up in her own wonderful sense of mystery.
You'll be bowled over by this one, and you might just need to go catch up on the other 20 adventures of Qwilleran and the cats.
Douglas Clegg is the author of numerous novels, including The Halloween Man and Bad Karma, written under his pseudonym, Andrew Harper. His recent Bram Stoker-nominated short story, "I Am Infinite, I Contain Multitudes," can be found in the anthology The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror: Volume 11.