Monday, May 13, 2013

The Cat Who Went Underground

1989, Jove Books edition from later that year
Lilian Jackson Braun
The Cat Who Went Underground
Probably bought newish for $4.99
Very worn paperback with broken spine

Although this is by no means the worst in the series, it is the worst since the first.  While I liked seeing Qwill deal with the frustrations of both remodeling and rural living, the book does have more striking flaws than usual, if none so glaring as would occur a decade or so later.  He's both 50 and "fiftyish" in this entry, set two summers after his inheritance, and in fact he returns to Aunt Fanny's cabin, for the first time since Played Brahms.  It should be 1986, and if so, Braun is correct that the Fourth of July fell on a Friday.  Qwill does make a "Pentagon shredding" joke that would be a bit prescient at that time of year, but maybe he isn't referring to Ollie North specifically.

The story seems to be moving along, with lots of interesting characters, including Mooseville neighbor Mildred, who would make some man a good wife if only her worthless husband weren't still alive (in jail).  She's smart, considerate, and a great cook, with a sense of humor.  But we know Braun isn't really shipping her with Qwill because she makes Mildred superstitious.  As for Polly, she's away in England, mostly sending postcards.  Meanwhile, Arch and Amanda continue to be on-and-off engaged.

The story falls apart a bit in the penultimate chapter:
  1. For no reason except misguided chivalry, Qwill discourages curious Yum Yum from joining his friend Nick and Koko in the basement.  For cripe's sake, she's a cat, not a fragile flower!
  2. Even though Qwill could have Nick stay in the cabin, hidden with his gun, while Qwill confronts the killer, he instead sends Nick on his way and then invites the killer over for pastry!
  3. Then he lets the killer confess and drive off, before he regretfully calls the police.
  4. There's no need for the killer to have a personality named "Louise."
Still, (with the exception of the final quibble) these are all consistent with Qwill's personality, annoying but human.  Braun has not yet had him, or anyone, do anything drastically out of character.

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