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The Cat Who Went Up the Creek: 01/27/09
The Cat Who Went Up the Creek is the twenty-fourth book in the Cat Who... series by Lilian Jackson Braun. The series started as a trio of books in the late 1960s and then reborn in the late 1980s has the time born inconsistencies that so many long-lived series. Even when just looking at The Cat Who Saw Red (1986) which restarted the series after an eighteen year hiatus, Koko and Yum Yum are still now ancient cats.. I can only assume that Qwilleran and his cats live in the same slow moving world as Kinsey Millhone who is still stuck in the 1980s despite being the lead character in a series that started in 1982.
I picked up the series with The Cat Who Saw Red and stayed loyal to the series until I went to college. The last one I read in order was The Cat Who Lived High (1990). As that was the eleventh in the series, a bucket load has happened since then.
Despite the big gap in the plot from my point of view, the book still follows the tried and true formula for this series. Qwill is still a writer. He still has two Siamese cats. He still lives "400 miles north of every where" in Moose County (state unnamed but possibly Michigan) and he still has a knack for finding himself in the middle of a mystery.
In The Cat Who Went Up the Creek, Qwill is called out to a bed and breakfast and rustic cabin resort that has "bad vibes." The manor house (now bed and breakfast) has a tower and Black Walnut staircase reminiscent of The Crying Child by Barbara Michaels (1973) The house and the bad vibes though are just the plot device to get Qwill and the cats to where they need to be. The remainder of the book is like a mash up of Silence is Golden by Penny Warner and Zombies of the Gene Pool by Sharyn Crumb.
The middle chapters drag a bit as the plot gets distracted with The Pirates of Penzance and the postcards from his friend Polly who is traveling abroad. There's also an odd chapter about moustache cups which was educational but not at all relevant to the mystery. After all that nonsense is done, the plot gets back on the rails and concludes after four tightly written chapters.
Although I found my concentration wandering in the middle (roughly pages 100-180), I enjoyed revisiting a series I haven't read in years. Although I probably won't actively seek out more in the series, I will read any new (to me) ones that cross my path in the future.
Comment #1: Wednesday, January, 28, 2009 at 07:47:39
I love reading these books when I need a light read. Not something too deep - and pretty much a guaranteed laugh :)
Comment #2: Wednesday, January, 28, 2009 at 21:04:33
The Cat Who... series is pretty light reading. If you like cats, you'll probably enjoy it.
Comment #3: Wednesday, January, 28, 2009 at 08:51:12
I've always seen those Cat Who... books around, and wondered what they were about. I didn't know there were so many in the series! Do the cats help solve the mysteries in some way?
Comment #4: Wednesday, January, 28, 2009 at 21:06:21
Koko and Yum Yum inspired Qwill on the solving of the cases. Sometimes they take a more active role but they're not the stars as the cat and dog are in the Rita Mae Brown cat mysteries.
Comment #5: Wednesday, January, 28, 2009 at 17:10:59
Grafton has said in interviews that each of the Millhone novels takes place one month after each other, and it does work in that series. I haven't read any of the Cat Who books, but may try one after reading your review/
Comment #6: Wednesday, January, 28, 2009 at 21:06:21
I've read Grafton's interviews and that's why I mentioned her books in comparision to the Cat Who Books. Lilian Jackson Braun doesn't seem to give interviews, so I can only guess at the timeline of her novels. If she's doing something similar to Grafton, then Qwill and cats are probably in the mid 1970s by now. There certainly wasn't anything in the book to peg it as contemporary to 2002.
Comment #7: Thursday, January, 29, 2009 at 16:11:06
I read a few of these, I thought they were cute but I can take or leave them honestly.
Comment #8: Thursday, January 29, 2009 at 21:48:00
That's how I feel about the series now but there was a time when I was a fan.
Comment #9: Saturday, January, 31, 2009 at 09:11:52
Ah, yes, The Cat Who. . . My husband and I used to listen to these audiobooks when we traveled. Thanks for a nice little reminder! These books are lots of fun!
Comment #10: Saturday, January 31, 2009 at 11:17:25
I can see how the Cat Who boosk would be good audio books for traveling. My husband and I have sometimes listened to Grafton's books for our long drives.