Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Cat Who Saw Stars, Lilian Jackson Braun (1998)

This marks the tenth The Cat Who … novel I've read, and because the quality of these tales generally varies from great to garbage, I've decided to call it quits with the series. The problem is I never know whether I'll be treated to a well written who dun it or an utter dud. One novel might deliver on a classic murder mystery with the added bonus of a quirky moonlighting detective and his enigmatic cats. The standard fare from Braun. These follow a well-established and welcome formula: someone dies; foul play is suspected; and whether prodded by an inexplicable bristling sensation along his mustache or by the prescient behavior of his Siamese cat Koko, our beloved sleuth Qwilleran sets to work on solving the case. This develops into well plotted scenes, intriguing suspects, and a satisfying finish.

The next novel, however, might read like a journal adaptation by an octogenarian chronicling her fervor for food, fashion, felines, and fellowship. The problem with the latter is that said novels offer little to no tension, suspense, or mystery. Whatever murder occurs near the beginning of such a book is treated as either an afterthought or a nuisance for the characters involved, all of whom would clearly prefer to discuss their cats, attend the local theatre, frequent their favorite restaurant, browse the local antique shop, and plan the next charity benefit.

Saw Stars is another one of those. Braun is a good prose writer; I just wish she'd fulfilled her role more consistently, not as an aging senior citizen fictionalizing her own social life and its rather drab subject matter. How many stars the cat saw in this novel was never addressed. Which is fine. Unfortunately, for this review, I count only two. Rated G

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