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Koko Discovers Caviar Poor old Jim Qwilleran, everywhere he goes people are drinking in front of this recovering alcoholic. To make matters worse, early in this book his doctor puts him on a strict diet just before he gets assigned to cover the gourmet scene for the Daily Fluxion. Just as he really begins to feel sorry for himself he runs into an old flame at a party he is attending that is on his new beat. The party and the old flame are at the Maus House, something of a boarding house for the gourmet set. Since the house was built as an artist's conclave and must remain so to some extent, the new owner has kept the pottery going and brought in Joy Graham and her husband to run it. Joy is the reporter's old flame and his perspective brightens as soon as he sees her.
Soon however Joy disappears and her husband Dan claims she has left him and gone to Florida. Except for the fact that Joy had just told Qwilleran that she hates Florida the story is plausible enough but something just doesn't ring true to the ace reporter and he starts sniffing around. Soon there is another disappearance but no one takes Qwilleran's suspicions seriously and this book ends up reading like the disaster movies of the 1970's. The hero knows the dam is about to break but nobody will listen so he spends the entire movie trying to prove his point until the dam does break and everybody drowns. There are indeed a couple of drowning victims in this story but they may or may not have any connection to the mystery at hand.
The solution to the mystery becomes apparent early but Qwilleran, despite his suspicions, can't prove a thing. Again Koko rises to the occasion, this time on a typewriter and Yum Yum makes the collar. One sometimes wonders if these cats need Qwilleran for anything beyond food and water. You can also rest assured that these cats, unlike their human, will never swallow red herrings.
As is the norm for Lilian Jackson Braun's books, the characters and their often-odd behavior are the bread and butter of the story. And speaking of odd, I am happy to report that photographer Odd Bunsen makes a return in this book after being absent from the previous story. For a free meal Bunsen will help Qwilleran with almost anything and just like the rest of Jackson's characters and this book, Bunsen is witty, engaging and sometimes a little devious.The Best Braun has to Offer "The Cat Who Saw Red" was my introduction to the "Cat Who" series way back when I was about 10 years old. To this day, I have no idea how that book ended up on my mother's shelf - my parents are not readers. But I'm sure glad it did - I've read every book in the series since!
Braun's work has been highly criticized lately for going drastically downhill, and I agree. That criticism is justified. To read "The Cat Who Saw Red" again reminds me of exactly from what great heights Braun has fallen.
The mystery, as others have said, is not that hard to figure out. But the characters are so rich, the writing so fluid, and the situation so compelling that one cannot put this book down. The way Jim Qwilleran interacts with those around him is just fabulous in this book. Unlike later "Cat Who" novels, he doesn't take himself seriously at all - and he can also be heartbreakingly vulnerable. Qwill's buddy Arch Riker is a treat in this book, too, witty and cranky at the same time.
I highly recommend this book as an introduction to the series, or as a re-read for longtime fans.The Cat Who Saw Red This is my favorite Cat Who... mystery so far. Qwilleran, the newspaper man and his cats Koko and Yum-Yum solve another murder mystery. The setting takes place at the Maus Haus, the vintage apartment home where Qwilleran now lives. All types of odd characters live there, including Dan and Joy Graham. They are artists who make pottery by hand.
Qwilleran knew Joy from along time ago. They grew up together and were boyfriend and girlfriend. One night, after Qwilleran moved into the Maus House, Joy came to visit and told him of her miserable marriage. She wanted to leave her husband. That same night, she disappeared. Qwilleran did not believe the story about her moving to Miami. He did not trust her unsophisticated husband, Dan Graham. Qwilleran would not give up until he solved the mystery! Koko and Yum-Yum help to unravel the clues.