THE CAT WHO KILLED LILIAN JACKSON BRAUN
In this wildly funny, biting satire, in which James Qafka, noted children's book author and his cats, Ying-Tong and Poon-Tang, investigate the ghastly murder of Lilian Jackson Braun, Kaplow's shotgun approach shatters his main targets and does a lot of collateral damage as well. Like Mad magazine humor, the zingers come quickly, lancing Britney Spears on one page, delivering a glancing blow to "Murder, She Wrote" on the next and giving a resounding slap to Oprah Winfrey a couple of pages after that. The copious puns range from the simple to the elaborate, and include a perfect gem complete in a one-page chapter. As is true with the author and sleuth the book parodies, readers are more likely to be along for the joy of the journey than for the nominal mystery. But where the real Lilian Jackson Braun chronicles a whitebread world of gentility and graciousness, Kaplow's fevered imagination brings forth a torrent of insults, invective and invention. Who else would create a confluence of Mary Astor, Dashiell Hammett, Arthur Conan Doyle and Jackie Gleason, while at the same time paying particular tribute to The Maltese Falcon? LJB purists may not be amused, and the same might be said of staunch Philip Roth fans, for Roth plays a unique role in Kaplow's opus. The rest of the reading public may read and roar. (Apr. 1)
Forecast:While readers familiar with Lilian Jackson Braun's bestselling "Cat Who…" series are the obvious target audience, the book's literate if at times tasteless humor should ensure it reaches well beyond mystery buffs. Promotion on NPR, for which the author created the Morning Edition program Moe Moskowitz and the Punsters, will give a boost.