Saturday, July 6, 2013

Book Review: The Cat Who Talked Turkey by Lillian Jackson Braun (Cat Who #26)

Stars: 2 out of 5
Pros: George Guidall's narration, characters
Cons: Plot?  What plot?  It's just another month in the life
The Bottom Line
Love the characters?
Only reason to read.  Look
Elsewhere for a plot.

Turkey of a Read

For years, the Cat Who Mysteries dominated the New York Times seller list.  And the early books in the series were fun if light and unbelievable.  Somewhere in the later part of the series, the books lost their mysteries and just became month in the life kind of books.  As the twenty-sixth entry in the series, The Cat Who Talked Turkey is a perfect example of this.

The series focuses on Jim "Qwill" Qwilleran, a life long bachelor and former reporter who inherits a bunch of money in an early book and moves to his new estate in Moose County, 200 miles north of everywhere (somewhere on the US Canada border).  This new area consists of some small towns and eccentric characters.  Qwill still writes a twice weekly column for the paper.  He owns two calico cats, Koko and YumYum.  Koko appears to be psychic, and each books features him developing some new behavior that provides a clue to the murder.

As this book opens, summer is starting, and the people of Moose County are planning to get back in the excitement.  First, there's the groundbreaking for the new Pickax bookstore, which Polly, Qwill's long time girlfriend, will be managing.  Plus the town of Brrr is holding its bicentennial celebration, and Qwill has agreed to write and perform a one man show about the winter storm that devastated the community almost 100 years ago.

Oh yeah, and a dead body is found on Qwill's property.

I'm not kidding, that's how much thought is really given to the mystery in this book.  Yes, the motive/reasons for the crime make sense as things wind down.  And yes, Koko was trying to give Qwill some clues (although long gone are the days where the clues were based on real cat behavior).  But most of that is explained in the wrap-up chapter.  Instead, most of the book is spent on Polly's attempts to learn the art of bookstore management and the show that Qwill is writing.  We even get to sit in for the entirety of it during opening night.

Obviously, by this point the reason to read it is the characters.  I've only read six or so, and in random order, so I'm no expert, but they seem to be their normal selves in this book.  I know some people find Polly annoying, but she isn't around that much, and I don't quite get it.  Qwill is a likable main character, and the cats are guaranteed to make you smile if you like cats.

I actually listened to an unabridged version of the book.  It clocks in at 4 hours, so you know just how short the book really is.  (Earlier books in the series are 6 hours by comparison).  George Guidall is the narrator as always, and he continues to do a great job bringing the characters to life, including the cats yowls and meows.  Honestly, I found the book more enjoyable just because of his narration.

By this point in the series, anyone looking for even an average mystery would be disappointed.  But fans who need their fix of Moose County and their friends there will still tolerate The Cat Who Talked Turkey.  They are the only people who will.

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