Monday, November 16, 2009

The Cat Who Tailed a Thief

This morning I finished up Lilian Jackson Braun’s The Cat Who Tailed a Thief. This is the 20th book in the series, originally published in 1997; I’ve been working my way through them at the rate of about two to three a year. I was a bit surprised when I looked up this series to find out that this is the 20th book I’ve read so far…tells me my many years of reading are really starting to pile up :)

I’ve really endeavored to understand why I like reading these novels so much. They are mystery novels, of which I read my fair share, but the mystery involved with each book is usually pretty straight forward, often clever but not overly complicated. Very often I figure out “who dunnit” before the protagonist does but I still enjoy the unfolding story. These books are considered to be “cozy” mysteries, a sub-genre that usually appeals to female readers, and older females at that. Not exactly the kind of novel that a middle-aged man like myself brags about to the other guys at work. Of course there are exceptions but these books also involve cats. Now I like my own cat but I usually don’t like others people’s cats too much. Add to that the fact that the cats in the Cat Who series are Siamese cats and I really shouldn’t be enjoying them the way I do.

I suppose I like them because of the lifestyle led by the characters. There is just something about living in a small town like Pickaxe filled with its peculiar personalities that appeals to me. And I like the protagonist’s (Jim Qwilleran, or Qwill to his friends) circumstances: a journalist by profession who now has the luxury to lead whatever life he desires due to the inheritance of billions of dollars. There is no pressure for him to do anything he doesn’t want to do, so he writes a twice a week column for the local newspaper on the subject of his choice and spends a lot of time enjoying literature, etc…and of course, solving crimes.

This particular book lasts for an entire winter in the small town of Pickaxe. There is a petty thief on the loose and Qwill has decided to publish a book of “Short and Tall Tales” reproducing the local legends and stories in one collected compendium. The town is buzzing over the proposed re-development of a downtown Victorian housing area. Most of the story revolves around the interactions of the citizens of the town but Qwill’s suspicions are aroused when the out-of-town slick, well-dressed developer moves in on the action. A prominent citizen dies mysteriously and Qwill is off to the investigation. I great new character is introduced in the form of the local weatherman, Joe “Wetherby Goode” Bunker. I certainly hope to hear more from him in future books.

If you’re in the mood for a light mystery, you could certainly do worse than a “Cat Who” book but I do recommend starting at the beginning just so you can get a good feel for all of the characters involved. I still have 13 books to go plus one more reportedly being published soon. Coolness.

I also completed the next short story in the Louis L’Amour collection, The Strong Shall Survive. “The Romance of Piute Bill” is a humorous entry about a horse rancher who has to raid a neighboring ranch in order to get his stolen horses back. In the process a bad guy gets killed and his wife is suddenly available for marriage. The rancher’s workman, Piute Bill gets the widow in an arrangement that includes engagement and actual marriage in the space of about 4 hours. How that happens is funny stuff, not normally what one expects from L’Amour, but again shows his versatility.

I leave tomorrow for a business trip so will bring the lengthy 4th volume of Wilbur Smith’s Ancient Egyptian series with me. The Quest wraps up the series, I believe (at least no more are published as of yet). I’ll take along another novel as well in case I have more reading time than expected. I’ll report early next week when I return.

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Top 10 Books in no particular order (Well Known Authors)

  • "The Stand" by Stephen King
  • "Kane and Able" by Jeffrey Archer
  • "The Killer Angels" by Michael Shaara
  • "The Dark Elf Trilogy" by RA Salvatore
  • "Name of the Wind" by Patrick Rothfuss
  • "River God" by Wilbur Smith
  • "Mortalis" by RA Salvatore
  • "Ender's Game" by Orson Scott Card
  • "Centennial" by James A Michener
  • "The Repairman Jack" series by F. Paul Wilson

Top Books/ Series in no particular order (Lesser Known Authors)

  • "The Sculpter" by Gregory Funaro
  • "Power Down" by Ben Coes
  • "Revolution at Sea Saga" by James L. Nelson
  • "Black Rain" by Graham Brown
  • "Top Producer" by Norb Vonnegut
  • "Prairie" by Anna Lee Waldo
  • "The Wild Blue" by W. Boyne & S Thompson
  • "Unsolicited" series by Julie Kaewert
  • "Freedom" by William Safire