Friday, October 29, 2010

The Cat Who Could Read Backwards - Lillian Jackson Braun

The Cat Who Could Read Backwards
By: Lillian Jackson Braun
Published: 1966
Audiobook Read by: George Guidall
My rating: Wonderful

My first experience with this series was less than favorable but if you read my review of The Cat Who Had 60 Whiskers you'll remember that I promised not to write the entire series off based on that one book. As promised I got this first work in the series and gave it a chance. I'm so glad I did!

This was one of the most enjoyable mysteries I've come across and is written in one of the most original styles I've seen. Jim Qwilleran is thrown into the art world, completely against his will, and expected to write personality profiles of local artists and other interesting pieces of interest to the art lovers in the community for the local paper. The much hated, much loved, art critic for the paper befriends him, in his own eccentric way, allowing him to rent the downstairs apartment from him and introducing him to his amazing cat Kao K'o-Kung. Koko, as Jim takes to calling him, is truly a remarkable cat. He has a keen appreciation for art, a discrimating palate, and loves to read the newspaper when it is hot off the press. Jim finds that Koko has captured his heart and eventually allows Koko to become master over him as well.

Before Jim is able to get used to his new role as art columnist, he finds himself smack dab in the middle of a murder investigation that has the police stumped. Jim has major suspicions as to the identity of the killer but as the body count keeps rising he finds he is unable to prove his hunches. In the end the credit for solving the whole case falls to Koko and his uncanny cat senses. By the time the wrap up is complete, Jim is firmly entrenched in the community and has found a lifelong friend in Koko.

I loved the humor of this book. Koko's antics are described in such perfect detail, and were so very catlike that there is no mistake that Lillian is a true cat lover. Jim's reluctant acceptance of Koko's mastery and the dry humor he displays while spending time with the cat, made for a wonderful side story and many times had me laughing out loud. The mystery itself was engaging and included enough surprises that in the end I still didn't know who the culprit was until Koko revealed him.

I listened to the audiobook read by George Guidall. He is a gifted narrator and the way he portrayed Jim fit perfectly with the mental image I had formed of him. I love his style of reading and I hope that he is the narrator of the entire series.

Overall, I loved this book from start to finish! Unlike 60 Whiskers, this one has purpose and a concise plot that swept me along and satisfied me with a wonderful conclusion to the mystery. Don't hesitate to get this book and meet Koko and Jim and let them take you for a fun ride into murder!


  1. This book sounds quite interesting. I'm glad you gave the author another chance. That is often the way to get great books. There are many books of my favorites I don't care for. If I had read them first, where would I be?

  2. Good for you for giving the series another chance. I love the books you choose to review because I've never heard of them. It gives me more to add to my list (or not to add, in certain instances.)

  3. This was a fun one and I'm glad I gave the series another chance! More often than not I choose my books simply by chance. I figure if I stick strictly to authors or genres that I am familiar with I'll be missing out on a lot of great books! The problem is, I find series like this one, and am ending up with a list that keeps growing exponentially!! :)