I have been curious to try this very popular cosy series for a long time, though I had some misgivings about which role the cats played. I was given the twentyfifth in the series about the newspaper columnist James Qwilleran and his cat, set in Pickax, Moose County, and jumped at the opportunity to try Ms Braun for free 🙂
So here is my review, straight from the horse´s mouth.
What I liked:
I enjoyed the setting, the funny names and some of the characters, especially plucky old Thelma Thackeray, daughter of a local business man who made a fortune on potatoes, one way or the other. She comes home to roost, and of course her return is a catalyst, meaning all sorts of disaster follow in her wake.
Here is Pleasant Street, the heart of Pickax:
“They lived in large houses set well apart on one-acre lots – frame houses – painted white and lavished with white jigsaw ornamentation.
To Qwilleran, with his eye for contemporary, they looked like a collection of wedding cakes! Yet, the street had been photographed often and featured in national magazines as a fine example of Carpenter Gothic.”
And then there is Qwilleran himself, or Qwill, who lives in a converted four-storey, octagonal barn (I would love to see that place). A nice and engaging man who has an eye for the good story and the history of his county.
I also enjoyed some of the jokes, particularly this one:
“There´s nothing wrong with shortbread that couldn´t be improved with chocolate frosting and chopped walnuts.”
What I didn´t like
I don´t mind pets in crime fiction (or real life for that matter), as long as they behave in a proper manner. Qwilleran´s Siamese cats do not exactly speak, but apparently Koko is much smarter than any human being in Moose County so basically Qwilleran knows who are the bad guys because his cat has a fit every time it is around someone with a nasty mind.
The writer also has an annoying tendency to point out her own jokes:
“´The cats enjoy meeting a new admirer who will blubber over them. They´re only human.´
His quips always delighted her….”
Furthermore, it is a well-known feature of cosy mysteries that most of the horrible crimes take place off-stage. The problem with this one is that they take place so far off-stage that one often forgets this is supposed to be a mystery.
Will I read more of these mysteries? No.