Lilian Jackson Braun, Author . Putnam $23.95 (240p) ISBN 978-0-399-15224-5

Bestseller Braun's formulaic 27th Cat Who... mystery (after 2004's The Cat Who Talked Turkey ) lacks the charm of earlier adventures starring Siamese sleuths Koko and Yum Yum. In Pickax City, "400 miles north of everywhere," Jim Qwilleran, the semiretired gentleman columnist for the Moosehead County Something , is content to court longtime gal pal Polly Duncan while overseeing his philanthropic Klingenschoen Fund, which is bankrolling the Pirate's Chest, a new bookstore built to replace an old landmark. The arrival of talented thespian Alden Wade, a handsome widower who's to play Jack Worthing in a local production of The Importance of Being Earnest , threatens to enliven the proceedings and add tension to Qwill and Polly's peculiar, passionless relationship, until Alden's sudden marriage to the local Hibbard House heiress. Preparations for the Wilde play's opening and references to the Hibbard House history that Qwill is writing don't have much to do with the unsolved murder of Alden's first wife via a sniper's bullet. Once noted for its fine style, great characterizations and clever cat crime-solving, this cozy series has become a shadow of its former self. Agent, Lynda Gregory and Merry Pantano at Blanche C. Gregory. (Jan. 3)

Reviewed on: 11/22/2004
Release date: 01/01/2005
Paperback - 200 pages - 978-0-7553-2125-4
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