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The Cat Who

Updated on January 18, 2015
VladimirCat profile image

Vladimir is a former champion ratter (retired). His hobbies are bushwalking, birdwatching and nature studies

The Royal Siamese
The Royal Siamese

Who is The Cat Who?

The amazing cat, Kao K'o-Kung, known as Koko to his close friends, is the Cat Who .... can do almost anything.

Koko, with his almost supernatural talents, features in twenty nine mystery novels by Lilian Jackson Braun and although his actions figure prominently in the stories, it is a man, Qwilleran, who is the main character.

The Cat Who books are gentle mysteries, suitable for all readers. Crimes are committed, including murder most foul, but the stories are always told without graphic imagery or offensive language.

The Background of The Cat Who

The primary human character is Jim Qwilleran, a top-notch investigative reporter who has apparently spent years in the newspaper business but because of his problems with alcohol has run out of job options.

Despite having to play second fiddle to Koko and Yum Yum (another cat who appears in the second novel) Qwill is the pivot of the series.

His life is on a downhill run, he's basically an alcoholic, can't keep a job, and one calamitous night in a drunken stupor he falls in front of a subway train to be narrowly rescued by onlookers. After that, Qwill takes himself in hand, sobers up, and lands a job at The Daily Fluxion.

This is where The Cat Who Could Read Backwards and the series begins.

Assigned to cover subjects like modern art, antiques, interior decorating, and restaurant reviews, Quill acquires Koko and Yum Yum, cats who are both orphaned by murders.

Lillian Jackson Brown
Lillian Jackson Brown

Lilian Jackson Braun

Braun keeps her private life just that, private. These days she is in her nineties - The Cat Who Could Read Backwards was written in 1966.

After writing The Cat Who Ate Danish Modern and The Cat Who Turned On and Off, Braun disappeared from the publishing scene for 18 years. It's been suggested that mystery novels were starting to focus on sex, violence, and foul language after 1968, and Braun's light-hearted books could not fit into this new style.

Luckily for readers, in 1986 The Cat Who Saw Red appeared. Over the next two years, four new novels were published and the twenty-ninth novel in the series was released in 2007.

Her books all contain the dedication "Earl Bettinger the husband who..."

The Cat Who Could Read Backwards

Jim Qwilleran is a former investigative crime reporter with a shady past who ends up at a small town newspaper, the Daily Fluxion. He is hired as an art columnist (though he knows nothing about the subject) and rents a room from the paper's art critic.

Quill becomes friendly with a Siamese named Kao K'o-Kung and, when a local art gallery proprietor is murdered, a series of dark events begin. Mysteries are unraveled with the help of a certain intelligent feline.

The Cat Who Ate Danish Modern

In this second of the series, Quill is taken off the Art beat, and assigned to the task of putting together a colour supplement for the Daily Fluxion. The subject? Interior Decorating!

Quill has the daunting task of writing a weekly magazine style insert titled "Gracious Abodes" to focus on the world of interior design, another subject of which he knows nothing ... but it seems as if his new assignment has a curse.

Several mishaps occur with each edition, and Qwill begins to believe that someone is out to make the Fluxion and himself look bad.

The Cat Who books are highly literate, with a focus on art, classical music and Shakespeare.

A little more about Siamese Cats

A clip from The Ideal Companion: A DVD Guide to Cat Breeds

© 2009 Vladimir

You are Who?

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    • Steve Martaindale profile image

      Steve Martaindale 5 years ago

      A nice tribute to an amazing author ... thanks for sharing.

    • victoriuh profile image

      victoriuh 5 years ago

      Going through my bookshelves looking for books for the reading list quest. I see the Cat Who series is well represented. Great books and so much fun!

    • madoc profile image

      madoc 5 years ago

      The proper introduction to these books is to listen to them on a rainy afternoon, on audiotape, narrated by George Guadella. That way, you can stroke a cat in your lap whilst listening to the fables unfold. And see if you can beat Koko to the solution. Probably wont happen..

    • annieangel1 profile image

      Ann 7 years ago from Yorkshire, England

      I used to love these books, thanks for the reminder

    • daoine lm profile image

      daoine lm 7 years ago

      The Cat Who Saw Red was my first. Love these books.

    • pumpnut lm profile image

      pumpnut lm 7 years ago

      I read all these books after picking one up on a rainy visiting my Mom. Loved'em!

    • kimmie1967 profile image

      kimmie1967 7 years ago

      I love the Cat Who books. This is another series that I did not know was a series until I picked up one in the middle of the series and of course had to go start from the beginning and read through the whole series.

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      ShamanicShift 7 years ago

      I have featured this one on the Tortoise-Cat-Tales because my colleague, the Tortoise Cat, who blogs and strolls the neighborhood with me, meowed, "Gather some other great cats on Squidoo!" for MY lens. Famous cats count, too.

    • missbat profile image

      missbat 7 years ago

      The Cat Who mysteries are favorites in our family!

    • VladimirCat profile image

      Vladimir 7 years ago from Australia

      @Ramkitten2000: A slight application of a damp cloth does wonders. But I bet it was the dog

    • Ramkitten2000 profile image

      Deb Kingsbury 7 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

      Today I could have written The Cat Who Nearly Lost All Of Its Nine Lives At Once When It Barfed On My New Computer Keyboard. (Sorry, that was off-topic and inappropriate.) I must say, though, excellent reviews, Vladimir. I had not heard of these books before.

    • Laniann profile image

      Laniann 8 years ago

      Vladi you did an excellent job reviewing The Cat Who books. I've read all but the last couple of The Cat Who books. 5*s

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      julieannbrady 8 years ago

      OMG, I just love that Siamese cross-eyed cat -- where ever do you find all these pictures? Do you take them yourself? Love that intro picture -- you piqued my feline curiousity with the title of your lens! ;)