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The Cat Who Brought Down the House Hardcover – January 27, 2003

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Lovers of bestseller Braun's irresistible Siamese cats, regal Koko and delicate Yum Yum, and their pet human, Jim Qwilleran, will need no further recommendation than the title for this 25th book in the series. (Remember The Cat Who Went Up the Creek?) The locale is the same, the town of Pickax in Moose County, 400 miles north of everywhere, with its peculiar, lovable citizens. Into this bucolic setting comes Thelma Thackeray, a native of Moose County, who, having achieved fame and fortune in Hollywood, is returning at age 82 to die. But first she intends to have some fun. Everyone is curious about the glamorous retiree, who also has purchased the long-vacant opera house downtown. Local historians recall that Thelma's twin brother, Thurston, had operated an animal hospital in neighboring Lockmaster until his tragic death from an accidental fall a year earlier. Now his son, Richard, has come to live with Thelma. When she decides to turn the opera house into a film club, Dick is offered the position of manager-with startling results. The first public event in the renovated opera house is the Kit Kat Revue, a fund-raiser, whose finale is a procession of prominent citizens with their pets, all cats. Qwill and Koko are at the end of the line, and that's when Koko brings down the house. In her inimitable gentle style, Braun documents the daily activities of the inhabitants of Pickax. Kidnappings, robberies and murders may abound, but nothing is really upsetting or unpleasant. Braun devotees will cheer.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

This is the twenty-fifth volume of these intensely mild-mannered mysteries: it is hard to conceive of a more dulcet whodunit. Local columnist Qwilleran--Qwill, our hero--is immensely wealthy but funnels it through a foundation; lives in Pickax, Moose County, 400 miles north of anywhere; and dates the town librarian (although she's about to throw that over because libraries aren't about books anymore; Qwill's foundation is going to set her up in a bookstore). Thelma Thackeray, in her 80s, comes back to Pickax after a long Hollywood career in food. She's turning the old opera house into a revival movie theater, sparks a few other local delights, but can't seem to get her ne'er-do-well nephew to do well at all. Qwill plugs away at old lies and a death in Thelma' s family. We learn stuff through his newspaper column and his journal entries, and through the responses of his Siamese cat, Koko. All the murders are offstage: the fun part is in food, clothing, and the quotidian joys of small-town life; there's no sex and barely a whiff of technology. How can one fail to be amused by naming conventions that include local weatherman Wetherby Goode? GraceAnne DeCandido
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Series: Cat Who...
  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam; 1st edition (January 27, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399149422
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399149429
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.3 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (118 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #170,563 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Lilian Jackson Braun is the author of twenty-nine bestselling Cat Who . . . novels and three short story collections.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Amanda M. Hayes VINE VOICE on November 23, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I've been a fan of the Cat Who series for about twelve years now; I own quite a few of the earlier volumes, and have read every one of them, first to last. Recently I've been rereading my copies--so I was particularly thrilled to spot _Cat Who Brought Down the House_ in my library, and I snatched it up with an enthusiasm that I might not have had if I'd been rereading the *later* books in the series and thus remembered their severe dip in quality. Unfortunately, this book served as quite the refresher course for my memory.

I realize that the focus of the series has changed somewhat over the years, and that I shouldn't expect a tight, suspenseful whodunnit; my quibble with the book thus isn't really its lack of a sound mystery. (As with other recent installments, the mystery plot is very, very secondary to scenes and anecdotes about life in Moose County.) What I have problems with is how *pointless* it all felt--not to mention how different Qwill and various other characters seemed from their old selves of even a few books ago, and how many of the characters in this book are relative newcomers to the series and in no way as engaging (IMHO) as the Old Guard. The plot meandered here and there, not so much hard to follow as hard to stay interested in; and Qwilleran himself seemed almost unrecognizable. Since when does he let everyone and their dog--literally!--into his home, when he once resented people wishing to come gawk? Why would he become the special chum of Thelma Thackeray and spend so much time with her? And speaking of which, why was it that in the beginning of the book no one seemed to know who Thelma was or whether she was even real, while in later chapters everyone Qwill talked to had something to say about her brother, her father, and her family history?
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Marc Ruby™ HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on July 25, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It has been a long time (possibly 24 years) since anyone has read a Lilian Braun mystery story for the mystery. If for no other reason than that we often know who committed the crime before we ever know what the crime was. Instead we read them to enjoy the antics of a stellar cast of characters in a mythical town set '400 miles north of everywhere.'
The ostensible star is Qwilleran, a recovering journalist, whose life in Pickaxe began when he inherited a fortune and found it impossible to leave. His friends include almost everyone, and his deepest secret is that Koko, one of his two Siamese cats, is the true brains behind the outfit.
In this, the 25th in the series, Pickaxe is abuzz with the news of the return of Thelma Thackery, who left Moose County for Hollywood (where she eventually became a very successful restaurateur) 55 years ago. Now she has moved into one of the towns few mansions with Janice, her assistant and a bevy of colorful and outspoken parrots. Her sole surviving relative in Moose County is her nephew, who is noted for his smile and the lack of any visible means of support.
And so the stage is set for intrigue, parrot-napping, blueberry pie recipes, and an endless flow of gossip and tales. The success of Braun's books depends not on the intricacies of plot and character development, but on Qwiilleran's exuberant side trips into the nooks and crannies of Pickaxe history.
One of the dangers to any long running series is settling into formula writing and then forgetting the point behind the formula. For a while, Braun's books lost their focus, and Qwilleran allowed to become increasingly irritating as a main character. This has always been a series where a year between episodes was needed to maintain their charm, but recently a year has not been enough.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Eileen Carlan on June 13, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I felt sad reading this book. I've realized that the days of Qwill and Koko actively participating in the solution of a murder mystery are over. I will continue to read any "Cat Who" books that may be published in the future, but I feel as though I'm watching a dear, old friend approach the end of his life.
I thought Braun's question on the book jacket, "Shall we try for twenty-six [books in the series]?" was poignant. It's as if she's asking her readers if she should continue the series, seeking either encouragement to keep writing the books or permission to stop. Braun is now in her eighties and has low vision. Moreover, she wrote 21 of the 25 novels during the past 18 years. It's inevitable that time, age, and the sheer amount of physical and mental effort that such production requires will take their toll. I've adjusted my expectations of the books to fit this reality.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 10, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I'm afraid the "Cat Who..." series is on a downhill slide. Although a quick read, this 25th title was flat & unmysterious. We know the villain practically from the get-go, and the story lacks the usual subtle clues building up to the ultimate solving of the crime. Come to think of it, there wasn't even much of a story! Major events like the fund-raiser are given short shrift, & important details such as Polly's leaving the library are glossed over. The characters, whom we know so well from the previous books, are one-dimensional. For that matter, where ARE they all? Chief Brodie barely makes an appearance, & then only as a bagpiper, and his classy daughter, Fran, has suddenly become a snobby lush we don't recognize. This can no longer be considered a mystery series which leads me to ask "Who wrote this book?"
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