The Cat Who Could Read Backwards

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The first title in a long mystery series by Lillian Jackson Braun is The Cat Who Could Read Backwards (1966). It features the exploits of Jim Qwilleran, news reporter, and introduces his soon to be Holmes to his Watson —  Kao K’0-Kung, a Siamese cat who ‘”…who was named after a thirteenth-century artist, and he himself has the dignity and grace of Chinese art.”‘ (page 72)

The Cat Who Could Read Backwards
The Cat Who Could Read Backwards

As mentioned in an earlier post, I have begun re-reading this series, in publication order this time although I got off to a false start with issue #3 — but I am back on track now with the initial first episode. This time, the focus is on Modern Art, the Art Market, and the Art Social World in the mid-60s. (It even stages a Happening in Chapter 11!) Really no different that it’s ever been, there are jealousies, double-crosses, and battle sides. (The Art Forger, a 2012 novel by B.A. Shapiro, is a fine update to this social sub-strata that never changes but remains ever engaging to/for the outsider of the art business world.)

In this novel, we meet Jim and Koko for the first time, of course, and how they paired up together: both have prescient whiskers, but Koko’s overrides Qwilleran’s famous and much talked about mustache bristles. Together, they will go far throughout this series that spans from 1966 all the way into the this millennium.

The next volume will introduce us to the third member of this trio: Yum-Yum, another Siamese. There will be a whole new topic to explore, the world of Interior Design, and we’ll learn much about what goes on behind the scenes, and we will continue our exposure to the uncanny ways and habits of the Siamese breed. Oh, yeah, and there’ll be another crime of some sort to solve.

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SPOILER: In this story, O.Narx is really Scrano!!!

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