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Tuesday, March 04, 2008

The Cat Who Went Bananas


**½ The Cat Who Went Bananas by Lilian Jackson Braun. Mystery.









I've been reading this series for twenty years or so, and automatically buy each book as it comes out. (Not at regular hardcover prices--first I got them from the Mystery Guild; now I get them from Zooba.) But I'm thinking that maybe it's time I stopped doing that.

If you're unfamiliar with the series, it's about ex-reporter James Qwilleran, commonly known as Qwill, who inherited a fortune, moved "up north" (the descriptions make me believe it's Michigan's upper peninsula), and solves crimes with the help of his Siamese cats, Koko and YumYum.

In The Cat Who Went Bananas, a new man comes to town. Alden Wade charms the women and is distrusted by the men, but they try to keep an open mind, particularly since he's a widower, and a tragic one at that: his wife was murdered.

Koko is the only one who shows unequivocal dislike for the man.

Qwill's sort-of-girlfriend Polly hasn't had time for him lately, busily finishing up before quitting her job at the library and getting her new book store ready to open. Making matters worse, Polly seems very taken with Alden.

Then there's Violet, an intelligent and erudite woman with unfortunately ill health, who Qwill meets when soliciting donations for a used book store/museum. She wants him to write the history of her family home.

Violet ends up marrying Alden, who's 20 years her junior, which worries Qwill, particularly after discovering that Alden's deceased wife's former husband also died in suspicious circumstances and that his stepson is in town, incognito. He's too late, however, and Violet succumbs to her ill health, and the family home she was so proud of burns to the ground.

End of story.

I suppose I should have warned of spoilers, but really, how can you spoil the plot when there isn't a plot to speak of? Things happen, but nothing leads to anything else. There are three (5, if you include Alden's former wife and her former husband) mysterious deaths in the book, but none of them is solved.

And nothing changes in Moose County as a result of events in the story. It's just a peek into the lives of the characters we've gotten to know over the past 26 books (this is the 27th in the series). Kind of like calling up someone you haven't talked to for a while with "nothing to say, just wanted to see how you were."

At least half the book isn't taken up by those horribly pointless tales and legends from the early days of Moose County. That accounts for half a star. The other two stars are from sentimental attachment to the characters. But even that's getting thin. I used to like Polly; now she gets on my last nerve.

It's very hard for me to give up on an author once they've gotten on my A-list (buying new books as soon as they're released). I did it with LKH--bought A Stroke of Midnight, Micah, and Danse Macabre used. Danse Macabre is still sitting in my TBR pile, and I haven't felt compelled to pick it up. I have the most recent two The Cat Who... books in my TBR pile, but I won't be picking up The Cat Who Smelled Smoke. At least not unless the next two turn out to be a lot better than this one--or the last several.


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Comments:
Oh Darla, stop now. Seriously. I too have been reading this series for 20-odd years and it doesn't get any better. It just keeps going downhill. The last book, The Cat Who Had 60 Whiskers (?) is particularly awful. Something HUGE happens to Qwill and he displays all the emotional range of a Stepford Wife.

I have at least stopped buying my own copies, but dang, I just can't cut the cord completely. I'm still getting the latest books from work (the library). It's really very sad.
 
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