BOOKS: The Cat Who Came to Breakfast

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, May 1994:

The Cat Who Came to Breakfast, by
Lilian Jackson Braun, G.P. Putnam Sons (200
Madison Ave., New York, NY 10016), 1994, $19.95
Are there any cat lovers out there who are unfamil-
iar with Lilian Jackson Braun’s “The Cat Who…” series?
Fifteen titles are now in print. If you have missed them, they
are mysteries with minimal gore and victims characterized as
minimally missed. The real protagonists are not the humans
but the pet cats, usually Siamese. My preference among
them is The Cat Who Had 14 Tales, which differs in format
and style from the subject of this review.

The Cat Who Came to Breakfast is about the
attempt of a small town newspaper columnist and bachelor
named Qwilleran to determine for friends who operate a
small resort on his favorite island whether a series of sup-
posed accidents are really accidental. Qwilleran’s reputation
as an astute amateur sleuth is really due to the hints conveyed
by his two Siamese cats, Koko and YumYum. The three set-
tle in at the resort ostensibly for Qwilleran to do some
columns on a new and much larger resort, just opened,
which is impacting upon the lifestyles of summer folks,
tradespeople dependent upon tourism, and the few remaining
followers of the old agricultural life. Allusions to the history
of the island include pirates and spoilers, a hurricane, and
light romance. Qwilleran wonders who among the islanders
so resents modernization that he or she might seek to delay it
with fatal mischief.
I have no quarrel with telepathic cats, but Koko and
YumYum pass along their suspicions more elaborately. They
take up dominoes, and randomly distribute the dominoes so
that if rearranged properly, Qwilleran can decipher the clues
by matching the number of dots on a domino face with the
alphabetical order of a desired letter. I suppose if one is a
mystery fan who is also a gamesperson, who dotes upon
dominoes, one might enjoy such far-fetchedness. However,
I concluded at this point that the book would be a terrific read
for 12-year-olds. Personally, I continue to prefer The Cat
Who Had 12 Tales, a short story collection whose cats are
sometimes spooky, sometimes sentimentalized, always ide-
alized, but retain their felinity––an essential element for cat-
loving readers.
––Phyllis Clifton
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