THE CAT WHO SMELLED A RAT by Lilian Jackson Braun
G. P. Putnam's Sons, 2001
Fires threaten the few structures surviving from Pickax's mining past. While rumors spread that vast underground flames remain from mining accidents decades earlier, James Qwilleran's cat Koko doesn't think so. Koko's psychic reactions warn Qwilleran that something is going wrong--something much more personal and dangerous than ancient mine fires. When Qwilleran investigates, the situation gets even more serious. To Koko, and to Qwilleran as well, the two accidental deaths look more like murder.
Lilian Jackson Braun (read BooksForABuck reviews of other novels by this author) does an excellent job describing the personality of Pickax, a small town where everyone knows everyone else, but where wrong-doing is still plentiful. Qwilleran's cats may behave a little more intelligently than normal cats, but they are Siamese, after all. The reader is not asked to believe that they understand everything their human says. Qwilleran's interactions both with his cats and with the women of his life make for an amusing and enjoyable read.
Readers should select this book for the personalities and characterization rather than for the mystery itself. Although Qwilleran's close friend is one of the victims, Qwilleran remained emotionally distant from the apparent murder. He seemed more interested in shopping and impressing women with his class than coming to grips with someone willing to commit murder and arson to achieve his goals.
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