Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Cat Who... series, books 17-20 by Lilian Jacksom Braun

I've now read books 1-20 of the Cat Who... series, and these past four (The Cat Who Blew the Whistle, The Cat Who Said Cheese, The Cat Who Tailed a Thief, and The Cat Who Sang for the Birds) are definitely the beginning of the end, in terms of quality and enjoyability. The plots get repetitive and confusing, and by book 20 the sentence-level writing (never a particular strength of the series) declines to the point where I am distracted from the story in places because I am trying to find a better, clearer, or more elegant way to word a sentence or phrase.

In these four books, life continues as usual in Moose County: newcomers and visitors are introduced in order to be murdered or otherwise involved in a crime for Qwilleran and the cats to solve. Hixie comes up with fantastically doomed publicity stunts for the paper. The K fund draws new businesses to the community, often more of them than you would think a small town could support. The theatre club puts on ambitious plays, some of which will never make it to opening night. Koko yowls significantly, while Yum Yum does nothing in particular. People young and old ask Qwill for advice (I'm reminded of a few lines from the song "If I Were A Rich Man" where Tevye talks about how the important men in town would ask for advice, and it wouldn't matter if he was right or wrong -- "when you're rich, they think you really know!"). Qwill buys a condo in Indian Village for the winter months so he doesn't have to pay for heating and snow removal at the barn. Polly has a heart attack, then recovers, but is now more heath-conscious and one dress size smaller. All in all, it just starts feeling all the same. There's little character development, the cats take a back seat, the interesting secondary characters make all-too-rare appearances in favor of new characters who are only there to get bumped off, and the mysteries are not compelling enough to sustain my interest. (And the title of The Cat Who Sang for the Birds has nothing to do with how Koko helps solve the mystery, which bugs me a bit.)

So, will I read more of the series? I'm to the point where I bought the books sporadically, and though there are nine more volumes (plus two ancillary works and a book of unrelated short stories), I think I may be done. Plus, I've been focusing on this series for weeks now, and I'm ready to get back to some of the children's and YA books that await my attention!

(Reviewed from my personally purchased copies.)

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