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What Do You Get When You Mix a Grumpy Reporter and Two Siamese Cats? - The Wonderful "Cat Who.." Mysteries

Updated on October 19, 2012

Mix a Cranky Bachelor, Two Aristo-Cats, and Sprinkle in a Little Mystery

The next time you need an escape from reality, open the pages of a "Cat Who..." mystery and fall into Pickax, a little town located in Moose County, "400 miles north of everywhere"(description from the books). There you will meet a man and his cats - but this is no ordinary trio.

In the first book you quickly meet "Qwill" James Qwilleran, a sometimes cantankerous and outspoken former reporter who ends up aquiring two elegant Siamese cats. These three alone have enough likeable, odd, and unexpected personality quirks to fill up volumes. However, author Lilian Jackson Braun does not leave it at that. She constantly introduces you to a steady flow of places and people who will capture your imagination, if not your heart.

But make no mistake, this is a murder mystery series and foul play seems to be around every corner, in every book. Fortunately Qwill's native curiosity, coupled with KoKo's mysterious ability to sniff out clues, ensures that no villains go uncaught.

Despite the fact that the books have been published since 1966, they are still being discovered - and rediscovered - by generations. You can find them at major retailers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Ebay, as well as in libraries. If you really want a treat, get your hands on an audiobook version.

Qwill, Koko, and Yum-Yum are the ideal companions to curl up with on a chilly winter's night or on a breezy beach in the summer.

The Primary Cast of Characters


...(sometimes called "Qwill" for short), is a likeable, often grouchy former reporter who settled in Pickax after suddenly inheriting millions of dollars from a woman he didn't really know.

At six foot two and sporting a trademark handlebar moustache, he often finds himself pursued by single women. However, for most of the series, his heart belongs to Polly, local middle-aged librarian and fellow cat lover.


...who "...dignified and graceful, loves gourmet food and dislikes most women. When he's in the mood for a book, he knocks one off of Qwilleran's shelf to let James know it's time for some reading.

As if these personality traits weren't enough to set a cat apart from the herd, KoKo has a sixth sense which he often uses to help James solve mysteries. His apparently random yowls, body language and "death dance" are almost always clues or portents of foul play. In his spare time, he amuses himself by knocking things off shelves and bird watching.


...a beautiful female Siamese, is not blessed with extraordinary abilities; however, she is Ko-Ko's beloved companion and Qwill's adored pet. Unfortunately she did not have a happy kittenhood and the story of how she escaped it and came to live with James is outlined in, "The Cat Who Ate Danish Modern".

Yum-Yum is actually smarter and more beautiful than KoKo, even with her gorgeous blue, crossed eyes. For fun she enjoys opening things she shouldn't be in, stealing small items, and turning on switches. Her nickname is "Yum-Yum the Paw".

Books in the Series

The Cat Who Could Read Backwards

The Cat Who Ate Danish Modern

The Cat Who Turned On and Off

The Cat Who Saw Red

The Cat Who Played Brahms

The Who Played Post Office

The Cat Who Knew Shakespeare

The Cat Who Sniffed Glue

The Cat Who Went Underground

The Cat Who Knew A Cardinal

The Cat Who Moved A Mountain

The Cat Who Wasn't There

The Cat Who Went Into a Closet

The Cat Who Said Cheese

The Cat Who Came to Breakfast

The Cat Who Blew The Whistle

The Cat Who Sang For the Birds

The Cat Who Saw Stars

The Cat Who Tailed a Thief

The Cat Who Robbed a Bank

The Cat Who Brought Down the House

The Cat Who Went Up the Creek

The Cat Who Dropped a Bombshell

The Cat Who Talked Turkey

The Cat Who Went Bananas

A Bit About the Author

The author of the "Cat Who..." series was Lilian Jackson Braun (June 20, 1913-June 4, 2011).

She wrote the first three books between 1966 and 1968. Although the books were well received and the New York Times called Mrs. Braun, "the new detective of the year", she didn’t write another book for 18 years. Little is known about that time or her reasons, since she was intensely private.

In 1986 "The Cat Who Saw Red" was published and again the popularity of the series soared. Lilian Braun did not embrace technology and preferred typing her manuscripts after writing them in long hand.

It is believed that Mrs. Braun based the fictitious town of Pickax on a small Michigan town where she lived for several years. She owned Siamese cats, which she loved and admired. No doubt many of her pets' quirks were incorporated into KoKo and Yum-Yum.


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    • Claudia47 profile image

      Claudia47 5 years ago from Boynton Beach, Florida

      Thanks for thumbs up. This is actually a series of books and very addictive once you start reading them.