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    Review of THE CAT WHO TALKED TURKEY by Lilian Jackson Braun

    G. P. Putnam's Sons, January 2004

    With the city of Brrr in upper Michigan getting ready to celebrate its 200th birthday party, newspaper columnist and secret millionaire James Qwilleran picks up his typewriter and begins working on a one-man play about the great storm of 1913. His cat Koko warns him of a murder on his property and tries to send him clues by picking a particular book--the hunting of the Snark--but Qwilleran is too busy with the Brrr festivities, interfering with an aging woman's choice of whether to leave her home to her unfriendly granddaughter, and helping friend/girlfriend Polly with her plans to open a bookstore in the town of Pickax.

    Author Lilian Jackson Braun (see more reviews of novels by Braun) brings the lifestyle of upper Michigan into focus as ordinary people interact with Qwilleran, tell him about their lives, and enjoy the way his words add a sense of permanence to what they've always done. Qwilleran's own life, centered around his cats, his writing, and Polly (in that order) is a peaceful and zen-like thing, undisturbed by the violence taking place in the world around him--even in rural Moose county. In his world, the storm of 1913 is every bit as current and certainly far more important than a serial killing that is taking place nearby. Koko the cat disagrees, but he can't seem to get Qwilleran to come around this time.

    I have profoundly mixed feelings about this book. Qwilleran, the primary character, is essentially passive and goalless through the story. He goes about his life. But it is an interesting life--a life that would have been just as interesting to observe and a lot easier to identify with if murder wasn' happening around him. The bottom line in genre fiction is, was the book worth reading. THE CAT WHO TALKED TURKEY is worth reading for Braun's gentle writing. But if you're looking for a page-turning mystery, you'd do better to look elsewhere.

    Two Stars

    Reviewed 4/29/04

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    What do you think? Too generous? Too stingy? Or did I miss the entire point? Send your comments to Give me the okay to use your name and I'll publish all the comments that fit (and don't use unprintable language).

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