Books by Lilian Jackson Braun

The history of Lilian Jackson Braun is perhaps as exciting and mysterious as her novels. Between 1966 and 1968, she published three novels to critical acclaim: The Cat Who Could Read Backwards, The Cat Who Ate Danish Modern and The Cat Who Turned On and


THE CAT WHO DROPPED A BOMBSHELL by Lilian Jackson Braun
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Jan. 10, 2006

"No mystery to speak of, but cat-loving fans of Braun's Moose County saga (The Cat Who Went Bananas, 2005, etc.) will no doubt enjoy the latest from Pickax."
Sesquicentennial fever sweeps Pickax City. Read full book review >
THE CAT WHO WENT BANANAS by Lilian Jackson Braun
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Jan. 3, 2005

"Fans will go bananas; others may go Wilde."
Jim Qwilleran, columnist for the Moose County Something and caretaker of sleuthing cats Koko and Yum Yum (The Cat Who Brought Down The House, 2003, etc.), takes on amateur theater, valuable old books, and an ugly landmark. Read full book review >
THE CAT WHO BROUGHT DOWN THE HOUSE by Lilian Jackson Braun
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Jan. 6, 2003

"The smidgen of mystery will be just enough for the faithful already queued up for this mild silver anniversary for Braun."
Is the world of Prokofiev's opera The Gambler full of "scandal, intrigue, falsity, and greed," really, as millionaire columnist Jim Qwilleran observes, "just like Pickax"? Well, yes and no. Ancient Moose County native Thelma Thackeray's return from Hollywood to her hometown to have some unspecified fun before she dies has tongues wagging, though the issues are whether she was really a movie star and whether she's going to turn the old opera house into a film club. Intrigue? Maybe the death of Thelma's twin brother, beloved veterinarian Thurston Thackeray, in a hiking accident last year wasn't so accidental. As for falsity and greed, somebody clearly kidnapped Thelma's five prize Amazon parrots the very night she arrived in town, and since her nephew Richard got them back only by making a ransom payment, somebody's obviously sitting on a heavy purse. But these readily solved crimes against humanity and the animal kingdom are matters of less urgent concern than the rambling reminiscences Qwill is collecting for his volume Short and Tall Tales, the lovingly detailed meals he shares with librarian Polly Duncan and other series regulars, the sleuthing shenanigans of his Siamese Koko and Yum Yum, and the columns that prove repeatedly that he can write a thousand words about nothing—a gift his veteran author displays on a larger scale herself. Read full book review >
THE CAT WHO SMELLED A RAT by Lilian Jackson Braun
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Feb. 5, 2001

While awaiting the "Big One," the three-day blizzard that usually heralds the winter season up north of everywhere in Moose County, Jim Qwilleran, zillionaire newspaper columnist and companion to the two wiliest detectives who ever lived, Siamese cats Koko and Yum Yum, joins the volunteer fire patrol for its 24/7 protection of the area's historic mineshaft towers. In quick succession, another firewatcher is shot, a used bookstore left to Qwill burns, and a sports enthusiast, a curler, trips—with a little help—on the clubhouse stairs and dies. Meanwhile, a new tenant, a rare-book dealer with a surgically reconstructed face, has moved into Qwill's condo complex; a saucy decorator and a lovely batik artist are arousing more of Qwill's attention than his gal-pal Polly is comfortable with; and two town residents have left Pickax City in the dead of night, supposedly to elope, but actually to tattle on the mayor and slapdash builder Don Exbridge from a safe distance. Koko goes into full detective mode, yowling, pouncing, shredding, until Qwill finally takes heed and, after announcing the winners of his column's haiku contest, ties three aging bad boys into murder and an elaborate Ponzi scheme. Read full book review >
THE CAT WHO ROBBED A BANK by Lilian Jackson Braun
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Jan. 3, 2000

Pickax's only millionaire, Jim Qwilleran (The Cat Who Saw Stars, 1999, etc.), a columnist for the Moose County Something, is enjoying life in the spectacularly redesigned old barn where he spends the summer months with his Siamese cats Koko and Yum Yum, his harbingers of good and evil. The town's in a tizzy about the opening of the equally redone Pickax Hotel, now called the MacIntosh Inn, a name rooted in the past of Qwilleran's mother Annie. One of the hotel's customers for many years has been jewelry dealer Mr. Delecamp from Chicago, usually arriving with a stock of handsome samples and sometimes heirloom pieces bought from local dowagers, and a young, attractive aide in tow. On the last day of this visit, the chambermaid finds him smothered to death in his bed, his aide nowhere to be found. Suspicion falls on Boze Campbell, a part-time receptionist at the hotel who's also a champion at throwing the caber at the Scottish Games. He's vanished, evidently into the nearby woods, and presumably not just to practice for the next Games. It's a long haul before Boze's guilt or innocence is established. Along the way the story stops periodically for a parade of chatty down-home locals and lots of fortune-telling pranks from you-know-which species. One of the least of Braun's lesser efforts. Read full book review >
THE CAT WHO SANG FOR THE BIRDS by Lilian Jackson Braun
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Jan. 26, 1998

More dire doings in Pickax (``400 miles north of everywhere''), where bachelor zillionaire Jim Qwilleran keeps a paternalistic eye on the town from his opulent barn house and his columnist job on Moose County Something, the local paper. Pickax has been saddened by the death of 93-year-old recluse Maude Coggin in a supposedly accidental fire in her decrepit house soon after she'd sold her hundred-acre farm, at a giveaway price, to buyers called Northern Land Improvement. Qwill's suspicions of this deal, reinforced by prescient cats Koko and Yum Yum, lead to his finding the company nonexistent. Some big-time chicanery is afoot, not to mention other odd happenings: a break-in and theft at the recently opened art center; an old scandal new to Qwill; the misgivings of boutique owner Elizabeth Hart about her boyfriend Derek's being offered a job as manager of Chet's Barbecuea downscale bar owned by town councilman Chet Ramsbottom. And then there's young butterfly-breeder Phoebe Sloan, whose unsavory boyfriend Jake is bartender at Chet's. When the town's major annual event takes placeit's a spelling beePhoebe is missing from her team. With help from Qwill and, of course, Koko and Yum Yum, the discovery of her body in Bloody Creek brings about the downfall of Pickax's corrupting elements. Braun's terminally arch mixture (The Cat Who Could Read Backwards, 1997, etc.) is even more extreme than before as confusion reigns, characters proliferate, and Qwill, with his second-sighted assistants, once more solves Pickax's problems. Read full book review >
THE CAT WHO COULD READ BACKWARDS by Lilian Jackson Braun
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: July 1, 1997

A new hardcover edition (after Dutton's in 1966) of the first in a series that now totals 19 (The Cat Who Tailed a Thief, 1997, etc.). Here, Braun introduces Jim Qwilleran, a prizewinning reporter who's been on the skids but is now coming back with a job as feature writer (mostly on the art scene) for the Daily Fluxion. George Bonifield Mountclemens, the paper's credentialed art critic, writes almost invariably scathing, hurtful reviews of local shows; delivers his pieces by messenger; lives with his all-knowing cat Koko in a lushly furnished house in a moldering neighborhood, and has a raft of enemies all over town. He offers the newcomer a tiny apartment in his building at a nominal rent, and Qwilleran grabs it, surmising the deal will involve lots of cat-sitting. Meanwhile, a gallery whose artists get happier treatment from Mountclemens is owned by Earl Lambreth. The acerbic critic has praised paintings there by a reclusive Italian named Scrano; the junk assemblages of Nino, who calls himself a ``Thingist,'' as well as works by Lambreth's attractive wife Zoe. It's Zoe who, one night past closing, finds her husband stabbed to death in the vandalized gallery. Days later, Qwilleran, guided by an insistent Koko, finds Mountclemens's knifed corpse on the patio behind his house. It takes a while to put the meandering pieces together and to uncover an overriding motive behind the mayhem, but the best things here are Qwilleran's low-keyed charisma and the author's well- aimed, often funny barbs at the pretensions of the contemporary art world—as on-target today as they were some 30 years ago. Read full book review >
THE CAT WHO TAILED A THIEF by Lilian Jackson Braun
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Feb. 10, 1997

Yet another chapter in the saccharine saga of Pickax, a far northern town where bad things keep happening to good people (The Cat Who Said Cheese, 1996, etc.). The town's moving spirit is zillionaire Jim Qwilleran, who, accompanied by prescient cats Koko and Yum-Yum, has just moved for the winter months into a condo in Indian Village. Jim's column in the Moose County Something puts him in the center of Pickax's social scene, currently abuzz over Danielle, bride of new banker Willard Carmichael. Danielle's shrill persona and vulgar style mark her as a town misfit. That doesn't apply to her visiting cousin Carter Lee, a low-key, personable architect much interested in Pleasant Street's row of old mansions, which he wants to restore and have placed in the Historic Register. There's also gossip about a recent series of large thefts. All this gives way to shock when banker Carmichael, on a business trip to Detroit, is mugged and fatally shot. Danielle is soon back in circulation and Carter Lee continues to press his preservation scheme, at the same time courting Lynette, the 40ish, never married sister-in-law of Jim Qwilleran's best friend, Polly Duncan. Jim, in full Scots dress, is best man at the wedding. News from New Orleans of Lynette's death (of gastrointestinal complications) starts signals flying from Koko and Yum-Yum, prompting Jim to get to the bottom of it all. Dolls, dirks, dowsers, and kilts, along with folklore and cat lore—all clutter the story, and the murder puzzle, minus suspense or surprise, barely emerges from the flow. Die-hard cat and cozy fans may cheer. For others, a benign waste of time. (Literary Guild alternate; Mystery Guild main selection) Read full book review >
THE CAT WHO SAID CHEESE by Lilian Jackson Braun
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Feb. 6, 1996

Millionaire (by inheritance) Jim Qwilleran (``Call me Qwill'') lives in northern Pickax City, writes a column for the Moose County Something, and shares his log mansion with Siamese cats Koko and Yum Yum (The Cat Who Blew The Whistle, 1995, etc.). At the moment, Qwill's involved with the town's upcoming Great Food Explo, ignoring local gossip about the foreign mystery woman staying at the New Pickax Hotel—until a gift-wrapped bomb, accompanied by flowers, is sent to her room by an unidentified stranger. The ensuing explosion kills young hotel worker Anna Marie Toms, propels the foreigner to the first plane out of town, and, before long, florist Franklin Pickett, who provided the flowers, is dead, too. Meanwhile, Qwill is busy with visits to ailing girlfriend Polly Duncan, interviews with cheesemakers and mushroom growers, and a stint on the judge's panel in the contest for best pasty (a separate award for those with turnips). He also finds time for supportive chats with glum, slightly brain-damaged beekeeper Aubrey Scotten, who, as Qwill discovers after yet another death, unknowingly holds the key to the puzzle that has police chief Andrew Brodie stymied. Koko and Yum Yum have little impact on the mystery's solution in this 18th episode of the series, but their cutesy antics consume more space than ever. A nearly resolved plot and the warm, if idealized, small-town ambience save this one from total icky-poo. The author's legion of fans will love it—for sure. (Mystery Book Club main selection; Literary Guild alternate selection) Read full book review >
THE CAT WHO BLEW THE WHISTLE by Lilian Jackson Braun
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Feb. 8, 1995

Floyd Trevelyan, president of the Lumbertown Credit Union, is gone, and so are his secretary Nella Hooper and millions of Moose County dollars. It was just a few days earlier that model- railroad hobbyist Trevelyan's latest brainchild, the Lumbertown Party Train, steamed through nearby Pickax and Wildcat in its triumphant first run; and it's back to those fateful last days that aw-shucks columnist Jim Qwilleran, ``the richest man in the northeast central United States,'' looks for clues about what tipped Trevelyan off to flee one step ahead of the police investigation—and who blew the whistle on his scam in the first place. Luckily, hearty oldster Celia Robinson, a longtime correspondent of Qwilleran's just arrived in town, has settled in as a Pickax Pal to Trevelyan's abandoned wife and daughter. And Qwilleran himself is well-positioned to keep tabs on Trevelyan's ne'er-do-well son, Eddie, while his cats, Koko and Yum Yum (The Cat Who Came to Breakfast, 1994, etc.), run off as usual with the detecting honors. Larceny, homicide, and a climactic train wreck- -but nothing nasty—provide mild punctuation for an Ozzie-and- Harriet daily routine that takes Qwilleran and his homespun friends from picnics to flirting to gossip to softball games to amateur theatricals. Braun's childlike characters take these activities and themselves almost as seriously as they take their cats. (Literary Guild/Mystery Guild main selections) Read full book review >
THE CAT WHO CAME TO BREAKFAST by Lilian Jackson Braun
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Feb. 9, 1994

Maine's Breakfast Island, that is—that's where megamillionaire Jim Qwilleran, bereft of his special friend Polly Duncan, takes his sleuthing Siamese Koko and Yum Yum to write a few columns for the Moose County Something on the deplorable new tourist facilities on the island, and to look into a series of ``accidents'' (15 guests poisoned by bad chicken, one drowned, one the victim of a bad fall, one blown up in his cruiser, etc.) that have befallen mostly faceless visitors. Like Agatha Christie resolutely keeping up British standards in the face of a shrinking Empire, Braun maintains the forms of the American cozy—an unsolved century-old disappearance of three lighthouse keepers; high tea with the island's queen mother, Rowena Appelhardt, and her 1920's-wayward brood; innumerable civilized conversations about the gentler pleasures of yesteryear—despite the insistent pressure of unpleasant 20th-century realities like land development, homicide, and plain rudeness. Less feline than usual, though psychic Koko's uncanny facility with dominos fingers (sorry, tails) two separate killers in this meandering page from the past. Read full book review >
THE CAT WHO WENT INTO THE CLOSET by Lilian Jackson Braun
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: April 21, 1993

Another of the author's rambling tales starring Koko and Yum- Yum. The all-knowing Siamese cats are presently sharing the rented Gage mansion in Pickax with oddball millionaire journalist Jim Qwilleran. Here, 80-ish Euphonia Gage, still feisty and energetic, is living in a plush Florida mobile-home park. News of her suicide startles the town—so does the fact that she left zilch to her grandson Junior Goodwinter, managing editor of the Moose County Something, for which Qwilleran writes a column. Euphonia's beneficiaries turn out to be the trailer park's owners, leading a suspicious Qwilleran to start asking questions—mostly by phone to Euphonia's talkative neighbor Celia Robinson. Meanwhile, there's a killing right in Pickax—of potato farmer Inchpot; there's also a weeklong snowstorm to surmount, plus chronicles of the 1869 Great Fire to endure, by way of Qwilleran's dramatic one-man audio-visual performances for clubs and schools. It's the cats, of course, who help Qwilleran solve his long- distance mystery—in a disheveled, determinedly folksy story sure to be enjoyed by the author's devoted following. Read full book review >
THE CAT WHO WASN'T THERE by Lilian Jackson Braun
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Sept. 1, 1992

The 15th outing for Pickax City newspaper pundit and zillionaire Jim Qwilleran and his Siamese housemates, Koko and Yum Yum, travels from Moose County to Hibernia and back again as it dwells on Qwill's Scottish ancestry; the identity of the prowler sniffing around his lover, Polly the librarian; and the attempts of his former lover, Melinda, to rekindle their romance (with dire results) while on a Highland Tour with them and 13 other Pickax friends. The friends include the teddy-bear-collecting Chisholm sisters; cranky, outspoken Amanda Goodwinter (who ``drank a little''); several stalwarts of Pickax's little theater group; and pushy tour-guide Irma Hasselrich, who disrupts everyone's holiday by dying in bed—from unnatural causes. Nice scenery, interesting historical tidbits, and far-fetched- -in fact, farcical—motivation for murder, but die-hards and readers new to the series will have a rare glimpse of Qwill and Koko behaving most ungentlemanly-like toward the ladies. Read full book review >
THE CAT WHO MOVED A MOUNTAIN by Lilian Jackson Braun
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Jan. 9, 1992

Newsman Jim Qwilleran and his Siamese sidekicks, Koko and Yum Yum, now find themselves summering on the top of Big Potatoe Mountain in the ramshackle digs of the late J.J. Hawkinfield, while Qwill mulls over life now that he's officially the beneficiary of the Klingenschoen fortune. Koko, of course, is fascinated by the porch railing old J.J. was pitched over by mountain man Forest Beechum, as well as by a certain wall hanging and something under a massive chest of drawers. And the more Koko meows, the more Qwill is convinced that J.J.'s death has been attributed to the wrong person, which puts him right in the middle of a mountain- development feud between the ``Taters'' and the ``Spuds,'' the have-nots and the haves of the Potatoe range. Meanwhile, there's J.J.'s scurrilous editorials to pore over, including the last he wrote concerning the nefarious Hot Potatoe Fund. Who's behind it? Koko knows and, as usual, lets Qwill in on it while a stressed-out Yum Yum bites her flanks until the three pack up and head back for Pickax City. A shade cuter than most Braun outings, with a very incidental murder, but devoted fans will lap it up anyway. Read full book review >
THE CAT WHO KNEW A CARDINAL by Lilian Jackson Braun
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: May 9, 1991

Yet another in the author's series of stories (The Cat Who Went Underground, etc.) about millionaire (inherited) journalist Jim Qwilleran and his Siamese cats Koko and Yum Yumthe latter two, along with Jim's moustache, supposedly gifted with a talent for detection. Here they're all enjoying life in remote Pickax, in Jim's spectacularly renovated barn, when he discovers school principal Hilary Van Brook shot to death in the apple orchard. Arrogant Hilarythoroughly detested by all despite his genius for school administrationseems to have had a secret past, but Police Chief Brodie and most of the townspeople are content to blame the killing on builder Dennis Hough after he commits suicide. Jim doesn't buy that theory andafter he's approached about buying the Amberton horse farm in neighboring Lockmaster and has had a chance to explore Hilary's luxurious living quartersit doesn't take long for him to uncover the true murderer. A rambling, shapeless story helped a bit by its agreeable small-town characters but without tension or impact. Readers immune to the charm of catsbeware! They're omnipresent as well as omniscient here. Read full book review >
THE CAT WHO WENT UNDERGROUND by Lilian Jackson Braun
Released: March 27, 1989

The ninth appearance of "purrfect" detectives Koko and Yum Yum and their doting housemate, millionaire newsman Jim Qwilleran, finds their sedentary summer plans—rusticating in a summer cabin in Mooseville—upset when the old place proceeds to fall apart and the carpenters who are hired to fix it disappear. The first to go is Clem Cottle, a reliable, soon-to-be-married sort. Next: the stupidly amiable, slothlike Iggy. Qwill's plumber, the lipstick-losing Joanna, admits that her dad, a carpenter, died peculiarly, as did a couple of other home-repairers. Meanwhile, Koko is tearing up certain articles in the newspaper and hovering over a trapdoor, while Qwill interviews octogenarian Emma Wimsey for his column and is left her diaries, stories, letters, etc., when she passes away. Eventually, Koko scampers through the trapdoor—locating Iggy—and Qwill finds an itemized list of carpenter victims. Emma's old diaries will reveal the murderer's motives, which—while psychologically plausible—seem deep indeed for this generally lightweight story. Mrs. Clinko, the maintainence dispatcher, is a chortling treasure; the cats are their usual magnificent selves. Overall: wonderful ambiance, so-so mystery. Read full book review >