The Cat Who Smelled a Rat

by Lilian Jackson Braun



     The Cat Who Smelled a Rat offers a continuation of the beloved stories featuring the ever-quirky Jim Qwilleran and his feline companions, Koko and Yum Yum. It is number 23 of the 30 titles in the series. While the story retains some of the charm of the previous books, it may leave dedicated fans with mixed feelings.
     The story follows journalist Jim Qwilleran and Koko as they stumble upon yet another murder mystery in the small town of Pickax. In this installment, the small town is plagued by a series of mysterious fires at the historical mine shaft towers.
     Jim Qwilleran becomes involved in the investigation when he suspects that these fires may not be accidents. With the help of his intuitive feline companions, Koko and Yum Yum, who seem to have a knack for sniffing out trouble, he embarks on a mission to uncover the truth behind the arson cases.
     As Qwilleran delves deeper into the mysteries surrounding the fires, he unravels a web of secrets and motives in the seemingly peaceful town of Pickax.
     He has a favorite bookstore which carries antique and rare books. When the owner dies of a supposedly heart attack, Qwilleran finds to his surprise that he has inherited the bookstore. Shortly after, there is an explosion and the bookstore burns to the gound!
     During this time there is a heated election going on for mayor between two rival townswomen. Also, a well known and affluent widow disappears for a month and no one knows her whereabouts, fearing the worst!
     There is a severe drought going on and the townspeople have organized a 24/7 community schedule among themselves to patrol the historical mine shaft towers which are a major tourist attraction. One of them gets killed as he comes upon the arsonist. Everyone awaits anxiously for the snow to fly to break the drought.
     Several key persons end up dead under strange circumstances and after each suspect actually becomes a victim the story meanders through the plot.
     Unfortunately, the narrative lacks the thrilling twists and captivating storytelling that once made the series a standout. The plot unfolds at a leisurely pace, which might test the patience of readers seeking a more gripping story. While the characters are familiar and endearing, there seems to be a lack of significant character development in this book. The witty interactions and memorable banter that fans have come to enjoy are somewhat subdued, making the characters feel less dynamic.
     I found the story overburdened by countless characters coming and going throughout the pages.   The whole story was put together by an abundance of conversations, many of them superfluous where the speakers often become indistinguishable and it gets a bit confusing.
     The cat Koko is over-dramatized with his spontaneous tantrums which supposedly are to demonstrate his cleverness at detection, but moreso showcase him and his companion Yum Yum as two rather overindulged cats!
     All in all I found the plot to be weak with a similar conclusion. Even though the rambling style may seem entertaining to some, I for one did not find it so.

~  Marilu Shellie

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