Monday, March 4, 2013

The Cat Who Saw Red

1986, 1987 Jove Books edition
Lilian Jackson Braun
The Cat Who Saw Red
Original price $2.95, purchase price unknown
Very worn paperback with split spine

This is the last of the box set I wrote about back in July.  It feels like a longer gap than 18 years between Books 3 and 4, although it's set not long after the events of On and Off.  Mary Duckworth is leaving town, but she recommends Qwill move into the building owned by Robert Maus, so he leaves a tearful Mrs. Cobb (luckily not forever) and meets new people, including husband-hunting chubby Hixie, whom we'll also see more of.  (I think Mary disappears for good.)  Arch is around, as boss and best pal, which is good because Qwill meets up with his old girlfriend (from ages 17 to 20), Joy.  She's not too joyful though because she's a potter married to another potter who resents her greater talent, resents it enough to kill her.  He's pretty obviously the murderer, but the method, gorier than usual for the series, will probably surprise you.

I liked the glimpse into Qwill's past, as well as his realization that he's been in love with who she was, not who she grew up to be.  Also, Koko is further developing his mechanical aptitude, even typing!  It may be the 1980s in the outside world, but Qwill still hasn't given up his typewriter.  He's 46 in this adventure by the way.  This time his assignment is restaurant critic, which is a problem because his doctor has put him on a diet.  Yet he still manages to think unkind thoughts about Hixie's weight.  He always holds women to a higher standard, although he does get points for dating Rosemary, a woman with grandkids in college!

A few words about Yum Yum.  She's described on the back of this and many of the other books as "a lovable Siamese adored by her two male companions."  That's about it, no special talents or qualities.  Qwill calls her his "little sweetheart," and talks to her with (something like) "a tenderness that no woman in his life had ever heard."  Also, she and Koko can be jealous of human outsiders.  It's a weird dynamic.  And then you've got Koko pretending violence towards her to get Qwill's attention, and her usually letting Koko eat first.  I was grateful to Rosemary for pointing out that it might've been Yum Yum who boobytrapped the apartment with yarn.  Qwill replies, "I bow to your feminine intuition.  Forgive my chauvinism."

So he's at least moved into the 1970s, right?  We'll revisit the issue of chronology as the series goes on.

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