The Cat Who…


IMG_2016_cropToday I’m going to deviate from the literature for a moment to review something on the much lighter side. If you’ve never heard of The Cat Who… books, they are a series of 29 mystery novels by Lilian Jackson Braun. I have read all of them and here is my review for all 29 of these books and 2 collections of short stories.

First, let me explain how I came to acquire this series. My mom had asked me a few years before she died, if I had ever read The Cat Who… books, and of course, and I remember thinking that they didn’t sound like books that I would EVER read, besides, I’m a dog person. When she died, I inherited her books, and among them were most of The Cat Who… books.

One winter morning, when I had nothing better to do, I read a little about the author and found that these books actually have an order to them. If you decide to read them, I highly recommend you read them in the order they were published because the story of Jim “Qwill” Qwilleran, the protagonist, progresses throughout the series, solving a number of cases with the help of his cats. I’ll provide the proper book order at the end of this review. One thing I’ll say about Qwill, is that I prefer reading about him in the first few books when he is poor and struggling to make ends meet. Along with his cats, Koko and Yum Yum, you never know what they are going to do and women of a certain age are always in the storylines.  Lighter reading, yes, but expect at least one death per book, and sometimes they are gruesome, so I would not recommend them for children.

Food is a major theme of these books, and yes, I admit that I also own The Cat Who… Cookbook, that has a special foreword written by Lilian Jackson Braun. My favorite recipes are Mrs. Cobb’s Macaroni and Cheese and Mrs. Cobb’s Meatloaf and I was never a meatloaf person, but this meatloaf with its brown sugar and cranberries is amazzzzzzing! I’ve made these recipes several times.

Back to the series of 29 books…I read one, then another and then I decided to buy the ones that were missing from my mom’s collection on Amazon. And then I replaced some of her tiny paperbacks with hardcovers.

Braun also authored some short stories, I have a couple of these, Short & Tall Tales and The Private Life of the Cat Who…, but I was disappointed to discover that they are just bits and parts from the original books and not new or original stories. So if you have the series of novels, I do not recommend that you buy the short stories.

I encourage you to read about the author, Lilian Jackson Braun who was born in 1913 and lived to be 97. She didn’t just write a few cat books, she was also a career woman writing for the Detroit Free Press for 30 years.

These novels topped best seller lists in the 1960s, and when she started writing them again in the 1980s. Starting in the 1990s, they made the prestigious list of being on the best seller list for 20 consecutive years. So there is something there. Even if cats and mysteries aren’t necessarily your thing, Lilian Jackson Braun’s writing may find other ways to entertain you, so go to your quiet place and start reading or listening.

Lilian Jackson Braun with her own Siamese cats

  1. The Cat Who Could Read Backwards (1966)
  2. The Cat Who Ate Danish Modern (1967)
  3. The Cat Who Turned On and Off (1968)
  4. The Cat Who Saw Red (1986) (Nominated for the 1987 Anthony Award and Edgar Award, Best Paperback Original)[6][7]
  5. The Cat Who Played Brahms (1987) (Nominated for the 1988 Anthony Award, Best Paperback Original)[6]
  6. The Cat Who Played Post Office (1987)
  7. The Cat Who Knew Shakespeare (1988)
  8. The Cat Who Sniffed Glue (1988)
  9. The Cat Who Went Underground (1989)
  10. The Cat Who Talked to Ghosts (1990)
  11. The Cat Who Lived High (1990)
  12. The Cat Who Knew a Cardinal (1991)
  13. The Cat Who Moved a Mountain (1992)
  14. The Cat Who Wasn’t There (1992)
  15. The Cat Who Went into the Closet (1993)
  16. The Cat Who Came to Breakfast (1994)
  17. The Cat Who Blew the Whistle (1995)
  18. The Cat Who Said Cheese (1996)
  19. The Cat Who Tailed a Thief (1997)
  20. The Cat Who Sang for the Birds (1999)
  21. The Cat Who Saw Stars (copyright, 1998; published, 1999)
  22. The Cat Who Robbed a Bank (2000)
  23. The Cat Who Smelled a Rat (2001)
  24. The Cat Who Went up the Creek (2002)
  25. The Cat Who Brought Down the House (2003)
  26. The Cat Who Talked Turkey (2004)
  27. The Cat Who Went Bananas (2005)
  28. The Cat Who Dropped a Bombshell (2006)
  29. The Cat Who Had 60 Whiskers (2007)
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