I re-read The Cat Who Saw Red (1986) Lilian Jackson Braun December 3, 2013. The story was still located Down Below (and assigned to the culinary beat this time, despite his attempt to slim down some). Not much to report except the pleasure that comes from light escape reading.
With The Cat Who Played Brahms (1987) re-read, the reader gets very , very close to Braun’s real new purpose with this series in the 1980s: to place Jim Qwilleran in Moose county, near Pickax, 400 miles north of Down Below. This book gets him there and closes in on the financial security he achieves from Aunt Fanny and the Klingenschoen estate. From this point, the series picks up with new topics and factoids in many areas; it also establishes the K-fund that will turn Moose county around and give opportunities to others for regional growth.
This Brahms installment focuses on the reality that there are crimes and underhanded dealings everywhere, not just in cities; in fact, probably more . Qwill’s friend Roger extemporizes near the book’s end:
Roger agreed without enthusiasm, “That’s the way it is up here. Everyone knows what’s going on, but no one wants to do anything about it. Everyone is a relative or an old school chum or a war buddy or a member of the lodge…If you don’t mind me saying so, it makes a perfect climate for corruption.” (page 237)
This insight is very close to the verisimilitude that hovers in Stephen King novels.
Concerning the unbelievability of many events Qwill experiences, Braun addresses the probabilities very well for now, and future volumes, as he writes to his friend Arch:
There’s been a little excitement here. We had a B-and-E at the cabin, and Koko bloodied the burglar. I almost got knifed by the same man. He killed one of our neighbors last weekend. Aunt Fanny died suddenly on Thursday, and her houseman shot himself yesterday — in my toolshed. Otherwise it has been a quiet vacation.
There is one little problem. The new assignment sounds great, but I’ve just found out that I’m the sole heir to Aunt Fanny’s sizable fortune. Naturally there’s a catch. I have to live in Pickax. What to do? What to do?
You won’t believe a word of this, and I don’t blame you. (page 244)
But as each new installment unfolds about Moose county and Jim and the Siamese, I believe more and more. (And I hope you do, too.)
Now, on to The Cat Who Played Post Office!