Friday, October 29, 2010

Review: The Cat Who Ate Danish Modern by Lilian Jackson Braun

Challenge 12: Author Anthology Pick

Challenge Description: Find an anthology of your choice. Read at least 5 entries in the anthology. Of the 5 entries you’ve read, pick your favorite one and then find a book by that writer and read it. (If your first choice doesn’t have a book, then pick your next favorite until you find a writer that has a book.) Write about the anthology, your favorite pick from the anthology, and the book you read by your favorite pick.

Roger Caras' Treasury of Great Cat Stories

An entertaining anthology of cat stories that has been put together by the award winning author of several animal and nature books. The collection includes both classic and contemporary stories by authors such as P G Wodehouse, Paul Gallico and Edgar Allan Poe. I read them all and enjoyed most of them but definitely one of my favourites was

The Sin of Madame Phloi by Lilian Jackson Braun

I love cat stories which are told from the cat's perspective and LJB has captured the Siamese nature perfectly. It wasn't until I went looking for a list of her books that I discovered this was her first published short story and it was written from personal experience. Lilian Jackson Braun never had any pets as a child, so her first experiences as a cat owner were after she was married and living in an apartment. Her cat, Koko (the first out of several), had a very short life, and it was ended by a fall from the window of her apartment building. She was filled with grief, of course, over her beloved pet, but when others from her building came to her with evidence that her cat had been pushed out the window by an odd neighbor, her grief became combined with anger, and she wrote to get revenge.

Knowing that added an extra poignancy to the story and a big cheer for Madame Phloi who definitely got her revenge.
Lilian Jackson Braun went on to write many books featuring cats and I chose one of the earlier books in her 'Cat Who' series which was first published in 1967.

The Cat Who Ate Danish Modern

Newspaper journalist Jim Qwilleran is not exactly overwhelmed by his new assignment for the Daily Fluxion. Interior design has never been one of his specialities and now he's supposed to turn out an entire magazine on the subject every month.

But the first issue of Gracious Abodes is barely off the presses when Qwilleran finds himself back on more familiar territory - the exclusive residence featured on the cover has been burgled and the lady of the house found dead......

Now Qwilleran, with the help of Koko and his new female companion Yum Yum, the brilliant Siamese cats, have their respective moustache and whiskers twitching, and when Koko starts pawing clues in the dictionary and sniffing designer furniture, Qwilleran finds himself doing a feature on a very clever murderer.

I remember these cat crime mysteries well from many years ago when I was a librarian. They were very popular and , reading this one now , don't seem to have dated a great deal and easily slip into the genre we now call cozy mysteries.
At only 200 pages it's a quick read and very entertaining, especially if you're a cat fan. Qwilleran inherited  Koko from a neighbour who died . Up until he'd been a dog man but now he and Koko are beginning to form a real friendship and a super-sleuthing partnership. Later in this book Yum Yum joins them.
 Filled with gentle humour and quirky characters it's a fun read.

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