The Cat Who Saw Stars

Lilian Jackson Braun, Author Putnam $22.95 (227p) ISBN 978-0-399-14431-8
Detective-journalist Jim Qwilleran and his prescient Siamese cats Koko and Yum Yum (The Cat Who Sang for the Birds, 1997) star in their 21st novel here, and while not quite as spry as ever, they're still the cat's meow. Qwill and his cats move from Pickax, where he's a newspaper columnist, to his beach house in Mooseville, probably on Lake Superior. Qwill rehashes gossip with locals and old friends, and observes Koko's odd behavior, which always forecasts an important event, although Qwill usually interprets the cat's clues retrospectively. Mooseville is abuzz with talk of the upscale restaurant opened by Floridians Owen and Ernestine Bowen, speculation about UFOs (Moose County is a sightings mecca) and puzzlement over the whereabouts of a missing backpacker, whose body Koko quickly uncovers in a sand dune. While fishing with a pal, Qwill sees Owen's boat anchored next to another; Qwill, his twitching mustache alerting him to skullduggery, suspects drug traffic. Shortly thereafter, Owen drowns. The solution to the one mystery that is resolved--that of Owen's death-- comes as an anticlimax, while the mystery that's not cleared up--the fate of the backpacker--is chalked up by the locals to alien abduction. A skeptical Qwill grudgingly admits the possibility of aliens, cracking that cats, with their enigmatic behavior, may be aliens. With his 60 whiskers and gifts of perception, Koko is, as always, by far the most intelligent creature in the book. This isn't Braun's best, but her fans will adore it and only spoilsports will accuse her of, well, dogging it. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/04/1999
Release date: 01/01/1999
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