Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Cat Who Could Read Backwards

my first book finished for the Cozy Mystery Challenge is The Cat Who Could Read Backwards by Lilian Jackson Braun. I have listened to almost all of the other books in this series at work, but I wanted to see how it all began. also, many of the recordings we have listened to have been abridged, so I really want to read all of them just to make sure I am not missing anything. it's weird, really, because I always thought that I didn't like mysteries. I have always sort of shunned them for no apparent reason. but listening to these at work has branched off into listening to Agatha Christie books, and I am really enjoying those as well. who would have thought? anyway, this post is just supposed to be about this particular book. I am rambling again.

okay, so, The Cat Who Could Read Backwards. having "read" many of the older books first, I was a little disoriented reading this book, since the setting and many of the characters are different. it is pretty dated, which was very quaint, I enjoyed it quite a bit. I really felt like I was in the 60s. well, what I imagine the 60s to be, anyway.

the story was pretty much standard for a The Cat Who book, which is fine. I enjoy them because of their lighthearted, straightforward storyline. in this one, Qwill (James Qwilleran) meets Koko (Kao K'o-Kung) for the first time. he is not Qwill's cat, originally.

I was hoping to learn more about Qwill's history, since it had been hinted at in some of the later books but never really discussed, but it seems like the series starts off after his dark past is already over. I wonder if there will be more about it in some of the other early books that I have not "read".

anyway, the plot. there will be some spoilers, but I won't ruin the ending. Qwill has a new job reviewing art for a newspaper. he apparently used to be a crime reporter, but something happened and he isn't anymore (dark past alert). this newspaper has another art critic (George Bonifield Mountclemens III) who is very controversial. Qwill goes to meet Mountclemens to get a feel for him and ends up moving into one of the apartments in his house. he also meets Koko, who belongs to Mountclemens.

Qwill visits a few local art galleries and interviews a few artists. the owner of one of the art galleries is murdered. a little later, an artist is murdered. Qwill has a few theories about the murder. then Mountclemens is murdered as well.

after that, the books becomes a rather confusing free-for-all, and there is no way, as far as I can tell, that you could solve this mystery unless you were a psychic, over-intelligent cat like Koko. but again, that is one of the many things I enjoy about The Cat Who books. the ending is either completely predictable or entirely confusing and ridiculous.

this may sound like a bad review, but it isn't. I liked this book a lot. it wasn't my favorite in the series, but it was still good. I can't wait to read the next one.

if you'd like a better plot summary than I have provided, check out this one on Wikipedia. I've never been very good at explaining things.

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