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I didn t really know what to expect from this book, but in the end it pleasantly surprised me, sound like I m damning it with faint praise but that is not the case In the end it really was good fun, and of course being a cat lover, I thought Koko was good and a fine example of a Siamese My Siamese cross is also very vocal and amazingly intelligent Besides Koko, the characters were good and whilst stereotypes in a detective novel, they were all well done The setting was a good one, small town America and I loved the period I d certainly read another Cat who. Jim Qwilleran Is A Prizewinning Reporter Who S Been On The Skids But Is Now Coming Back With A Job As Feature Writer Mostly On The Art Scene For The Daily Fluxion George Bonifield Mountclemens, The Paper S Credentialed Art Critic, Writes Almost Invariably Scathing, Hurtful Reviews Of Local Shows Delivers His Pieces By Messenger Lives With His All Knowing Cat Koko In A Lushly Furnished House In A Moldering Neighborhood, And Has A Raft Of Enemies All Over TownHe Offers The Newcomer A Tiny Apartment In His Building At A Nominal Rent, And Qwilleran Grabs It, Surmising The Deal Will Involve Lots Of Cat Sitting Meanwhile, A Gallery Whose Artists Get Happier Treatment From Mountclemens Is Owned By Earl Lambreth The Acerbic Critic Has Praised Paintings There By A Reclusive Italian Named Scrano The Junk Assemblages Of Nino, Who Calls Himself A Thingist, As Well As Works By Lambreth S Attractive Wife ZoeIt S Zoe Who, One Night Past Closing, Finds Her Husband Stabbed To Death In The Vandalized Gallery Days Later, Qwilleran, Guided By An Insistent Koko, Finds Mountclemens S Knifed Corpse On The Patio Behind His House I am surprised in a way at finding myself giving a series mystery book four stars since I make it a point to hand out very few 5s that s a big score for me I don t read a lot of mysteries and only ran across MS Braun because I was looking for audio books for my wife She was in ill health for a long time and had trouble holding and later seeing to read text, so I was constantly scouring the public library shelves and used book stores for audio books Sometimes I would take them to work with me and listen in my vehicle I discovered that most of these were very interesting.Allow me to digress here a second and point out that for some reason there are some books later in the series that seem to me to have virtually no plot whatsoever, even my wife who would ask me to search for these books commented on it In those it s very like a record of what the people around town are doing in their day to day livesand an oh by the way, a murder happened and we solved it These seem a little odd to me.This is the first book in the series and is somewhat different than the setting story type that the series will settle down into Here we meet Qwill Jim Qwilleran who was at one time a crack crime reporter but has at least in his own eyes fallen He s writing on the art beat In the course of the story Qwill meets Kao K o Kung Koko a Siamese cat owned by the victim Qwill begins taking care of Koko but of course they ll stay together.Throughout the series Koko will do things that lead to the solving of mysteries and seem to show uncanny abilities and intelligence, or maybe they re just amazing coincidences ya right It s never really stated that Koko understands all he seems to but of course we know he does. Jim Qwilleran s life took a bit of an unexpected detour.divorce, alcoholism.but he s getting things back on track He takes a job as a feature writer with a newspaper, the Daily Fluxion Although in the past he was a prize winning reporter, he starts out a bit humbly at his new job writing features on local artists His publisher wants him to smooth some ruffled feathers The paper s art critic has published some scathing, sarcastic commentary on the work of many local artists Jim doesn t realize how cutthroat the art world can be until a local gallery owner turns up dead He finds himself covering his art beat, while working in some sleuthing into the darkness lurking behind the local art culture.This book is the start to this popular series There are 29 books in this series, plus a couple short story collections The first three books were written in the 60 s when working at a large daily newspaper meant huge rooms filled with typewriters, hanging out at the press club, etc As a former reporter and editor, it made me smile Jim Qwilleran is thrown into writing features on art when he knows nothing about art at all This might seem unrealistic to some.but not to me On my first day as a newspaper reporter when I was fresh out of college, I was thrown into covering city and county commission meetings I had to research things like property tax and appraisals, elections and other important topics that I knew absolutely nothing about I was thrown right into the fire on day one and had to figure it out Totally normal..you have to fake it til you make it Call and ask questions, check facts multiple times, look foolish on occasion to make sure a story is on target..reading about Jim trying to swim through his confusion about art, eccentric artists and local shows made me smile I never had to work in a large room filled with typewriters.we had computers But, when I first started as a journalist at a small rural daily paper, we had to print our stories, send the trimmed copy through a wax machine and layout the pages by hand I had to take and print my own photographs in the dungeon.the dank and horrid darkroom on the bottom floor of an ancient building Reading this book made me a bit nostalgic for my own old days The first three books in this series were written in the 60s Then Lilian Jackson Braun picked it up again in the late 80s.that s when I discovered this series I got to book 8 before life interrupted and I lost track of the series I m going to revisit the books I read way back then..and then read my way through the stories I missed Lots of reading to do I m looking forward to revisiting the interesting reporter whose mustache tingles when a story is going to break and his two siamese cat companions This is the first book in the series, published in 1966 Like most of The Cat Who books I ve read, I found the mystery a series of murders in the local art scene to be the least compelling part of the experience This was a great introduction to newsman James Qwilleran For fans of the series, we know what fate has in store for Jim, but his circumstances are very different in this original novel divorced, broke, unemployed He lands a job as a features reporter for The Daily Fluxion Arch Riker, a recurring character in the novels, is an old acquaintance of Jim s who works there as well Jim meets photographer Odd Bunsen and bartender Bruno at the hallowed Press Club, where they all love to hang out We find out about Jim s trademark mustache and his tomato juice addiction I don t think it s ever specifically stated, but I got the impression that alcoholism played a part in Jim s past And most importantly, we find out how he met Koko and began their great partnership It was fun reading what it was like to work on a newspaper before computers, the internet, cell phones There was also some sly commentary on the art world and its pretensions Throughout, details humorously betray the late 60 s setting of the novel, such as the reaction when it was revealed that one of the paintings described might fetch as much as GASP 150,000 And there was a lesbian character a female welder, naturally named I kid you not Butchy All in all, this was a very quick and enjoyable read, and now on to the next book in the series, The Cat WhoAte Danish Modern More art world mystery and mayhem Do we meet Yum Yum in this installment Stay tuned.First Published 1966Body Count 3 view spoiler Art Gallery Owner Artist Qwill s Landlord hide spoiler Cats are my family I enjoy any books that adequately include them you know,than claiming they exist However I staved off collecting most of Lilian Jackson Braun s sweet looking books because they are numerous Even I surmised they would be fluff Perusal took years Let me overturn that impression they have substance The mysteries are excellent and you really settle into the cast The Cat Who Could Read Backwards , 1966, is constructed superbly Jim Qwilleran, like many, didn t know cats in close quarters Introduced to a Siamese by a short lived character Jim is stunned by Koko s profound intelligence and elegance His own history is doled out over several novels a divorc starting anew in a smaller city, with a smaller bank account He was an award winning crime reporter in a major centre We find him gratefully assigned to newspaper features about art Knowing neither art nor this city, readers learn the subject along with him All Lilian s books appear to expound on a new topic, which I thoroughly enjoy.Compounded by a strong, identifiable history two factors launched my pleasure to five full stars From antagonism and cliques of the art industry, to the mystery itself all of it was written extremely well Jim s involvement is plausible, he makes logical efforts at deduction, there is a flow, and the interest remains raised The sensitivity of his moustache and Koko s ability to convey his intuitiveness, are unique touches Especially praiseworthy I have never seen a cat themed novel depict a human feline relationship better than Lilian s do The proliferation of her series is extraordinary in itself The first three were well received in the 1960s but paused for eighteen years Lilian felt that hardcore crime was en vogue She resumed her pen in 1986, to greater acclaim and my gratitude. Not bad, but boring. Written in 1966, Lilian Jackson Braun s The Cat Who Could Read Backwards is certainly not the oldest book I ve ever read, nor is it one of the best books I ve ever read, but it was unique because of one of the main characters Koko the Siamese cat, who can read a freshly published newspaper backwards by tracing the letters and who has a knack for uncovering clues that piece together difficult crimes This book in a way reminded me of an Alfred Hitchcock film a lot of build up to a brief yet explosive finale I suspect this may have been because it was the first in a series, and certain characters deserved lengthy descriptions With that said, the book was well written, with a dash of surprising red herrings and an almost constant upheaval of what the reader thinks they know about the mystery I would go so far as to say that The Cat Who Could Read Backwards isa mystery than a crime novel, or a cosy crime at that It may not be as cosy as others, like many written by her excellency Agatha Christie, but it is a polar opposite to some of thegrizzly and gruesome crime novels abundant today In this first story of Jim Qwilleran Qwill and Koko, Qwill accepts a job working on art pieces for a newspaper called the Daily Fluxion He appears to have had a relatively decorated career that took an unexpected halt, but this point isn t explained at all Perhaps in other novels in the series The first half of the novel sets the scene we meet a handful of exceptional artists, each quirky in their own ways, one bitterly disliked art critic, and of course the masterful Koko In a nutshell, a pompous critic named George Bonifield Mountclemens III yes, that s his name has ruffled a number of feathers with his biased and scathing reviews of most of the local artists He selectively favours a small few, while burning bridges with the others At first the reader even doubts his existence But Mountclemens definitely exists, and Qwill finds himself inhabiting a small apartment attached to Mountclemens antique and dilapidated home Within a number of pages, there is a brutal stabbing, an attack by vandals, and a suspicious accident at a small gathering Something is not right within the art world I was extremely surprised and almost somewhat let down by the conclusion I do, however, have a strong liking for the feline component of the novel, Koko From his first appearance, Koko is described as a supremely intelligent and elegant cat who appears to know a great dealabout the world than an average cat should The author has a gigantic love of cats that is made abundantly clear throughout the novel, as cats are described positively numerous times Anyone who knows me even slightly well knows that I too love cats, so this series will hold a great deal of appeal for me I won t rush out to read the next, but that sbecause I m put off by the sheer number of books in the series over 25 in total It s a great idea though, a cat detective I like it a lot. Rating 3.5 I don t read a lot of mysteries, but I had to read this for my university s book club This is evenout of my norm, since it s not a modern thriller butof a classic whodunnit, published before I was born.The story is narrated by Qwilleran not the only guy with an odd name , who takes on a job as an art reporter despite having a history of crime reporting and no art knowledge whatsoever But never fear, as his old job follows him to the new, with a death in the art world.I found this to be quite a quick read This is partly because the book is only 260 pages, but I think part of the reason is also that its spurred on a lot by dialogue, not laden down with too much detail The characters were all very strange and often funny That being said, it did take a while to get to the actual death that sets everything off There was a lot of laying the foundation.It helped that Qwilleran was new in town, as the reader could be introduced to the full cast of characters along with the narrator It actually added some build up initially to allow the reader to guess who was going to die and why, but it eventually got a bit tedious for me.The ending was unexpected, but it was also a bit disappointing, if that makes sense I was guessing throughout who the murderer could be and what their motive was, and I kept switching between a few suspects I didn t suspect who it turned out to be, which I suppose is a good thing, but the reasons were just a bitdull Also, someone crucial to the whole saga only gets introduced at the end, which I felt was a bit of a cheat, as it didn t give the reader even a chance to figure things out on their own.The whole cat aspect was a funny little touch, with the cat in question actually helping to share some clues but also some red herrings I think anyone who has owned or loves cats will appreciate how Koko s personality was so feline So regal What a cat The art critic who owns the cat was also odd, but also a bit cattish himself, preferring to be a recluse and having a contempt for others.All in all, I m glad I gave it a go, but I don t think I ll be switching to mysteries as my primary genre anytime soon Good thing I m making the club read sci fi nextSee this review in its natural environment, Dani Reviews Things You can find me on Twitter and Instagram. The mystery plot is decent but it took awhile to get going The resolution felt extremely rushed and was a bit out of left field, which I don t enjoy in a murder mystery The book was written in the 1960 s so parts of it are predictably dated An electric pencil sharpener is a shocking piece of cutting edge technology There s a very casual attitude to smoking and getting on a plane involves a lot less security Also, I was very confused about a clue until I remembered that an electric clock is not the same as a digital clock and doesn t behave the same when unplugged I was fine with all of that Dated technology doesn t bother me What bothered me was the very masculine air to the book Qwilleran walks through the newsroom on his first day and notes the inevitable girl reporter At one point he describes a satisfying salad as a man s salad Women are described chiefly by how they look and if the male characters think they re a dish or not The only female character who is not described as feminine is named Butchy No joke, that s her first name She s described as husky, and she never grew out of her tomboy phase because apparently her large frame wouldn t let her She s not allowed to be feminine, is what I took away from it I was not surprised when it was later inferred that Butchy was a lesbian Because of course sigh That s all very dated, too, but I m much less inclined to be fine with it.Qwilleran does no cooking for himself I could feel myself getting fatter every time he went out to eat somewhere.