Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Cat Who Saw Red: Review

The Cat Who Saw Red is the fourth book in Lilian Jackson Braun's popular "Cat Who..." series.  Once upon a time I read one of these books (The Cat Who Ate Danish Modern, the second book)--I got it through the Mystery Guild book club--and thought it a decent read.  But I never really bothered to go on with the series.  It's an interesting concept.  You have Jim Qwilleran, a news reporter for the The Daily Fluxion, and his two Siamese cats, Koko and Yum Yum.  Qwilleran used to be a crime reporter--quite a good one--until a rough divorce resulting in depression and a problem with alcohol caused him to lose his job.  When the series begins, he has taken a job with The Daily Fluxion and is working his way back to respectability.

This book finds Qwill (as he's known to his friends) assigned to cover the restaurant beat.  And for his first story, he decides to interview Robert Maus, a lawyer known for his culinary skills and also the owner of Maus Haus--a boarding house for artistic and culinary types.  As a result of his initial contact with Maus and, coincidentally finding that an old flame is a boarder in the house, Qwill takes up residence in the coincidentally vacant apartment #6.  He's hoping to see more of Joy Graham (never mind that she's now married), but soon he's interested in more than just stirring up the embers of old love.  He learns of an unsolved "suicide" from years ago and then odd things begin to happen--Joy's cat disappears and then Joy herself.  The young houseboy, William, becomes a source of gossip and information until he too disappears.  There's also the mystery of who is sabotaging the reputation of Max Sorrel's restaurant, The Golden Lamb Chop.  Sorrel is another inmate of Maus Haus--and someone has been spreading rumors that his meals are made with less-than-savory ingredients.  Are all of these incidents connected....or are the disappearances unrelated?  Qwill and his detective-minded cats will soon find out.

As you might have guessed from the sprinkling of the word, there are a fair number of "coincidences" in this one.  You also have to suspend your disbelief regarding cats and how much they really might know about human nature.  But once you get past that, this is a pleasant little cozy mystery.  Fairly well-clued and a bit of suspense thrown in (albeit in a nice, soft-touch sort of way).  Qwill is a fairly likeable guy and I do like his interactions with the cats.  I picked this one up primarily for the Getting Lost in a Comfortable Book reading challenge and I can certainly see why this would be considered comfort reading.  Nothing too challenging here.  Just a nice little murder with cats as the window dressing. Three stars.

Favorite Quote:
..if you've never been cussed out by a Siamese, you don't know what profanity is all about! [Jim Qwilleran] (p. 4)

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