Monday, June 10, 2024

The Cat Who Could Read Backwards (1966) by Lilian Jackson Braun #ReadingtheMeow2024 #20booksofsummer24

🐈 Jim Qwilleran, an award-winning crime reporter, started his new job as feature writer for the Daily Fluxion, specializing at artists profile, though he knew very little about art. Desperate to move out from his current uncomfortable flat, he grabs the offer from the paper's infamous art critic George Bonifield Montclemens, to rent a small apartment in his building.

🐈 Qwilleran's landlord is well known for his ruthless critics of modern artists, making him a hateful character amongst the art people. But Qwilleran begins to be warm towards his quirky landlord, as besides a comfortable though tiny living quarter, he also enjoys, occasionally, Montclemens' delicious cooking of fine-dining quality of foods, and the company of his extraordinary Siamese male cat called Kao K'o-Kung - or Koko to Qwilleran.

🐈 Indeed, Koko is no ordinary cat. Apart from his elegant regal demeanor, his hobby is reading newspaper - yes, reading! - but backwards. Koko has a delicate taste in food, and his favorite game is a mouse toy. When his master's busy or not at home, he even lets Qwill to have him as company.

🐈 At this point you might start wondering whether this is a murder mystery after all as we don't see one yet? It is! An art gallery owner was murdered in his office, while some paintings at the gallery were destroyed. But Qwill noticed something else that only few people could have known. A painting of ballerina that used to hang in the office is missing. Has the murderer stolen it?

🐈 As Qwilleran has been warming his way through the art world, he has the most advantage and enough inside knowledge to solve the mystery. Then, when Montclemens is also murdered, Koko joins paws with Qwill to reveal the truth around the murders. Koko led him to find some clues, not purr-posely of course, but unintentionally. Like when Koko takes Qwill to where his favorite toy - Minty Mouse - was last put, Qwill found interesting facts that helped him in his investigation.

🐈 All in all, it's a highly entertaining cozy mystery with interesting premise - the art world. I loved Koko-Qwilleran's budding chemistry in this book, and hope to see them together in further cases. I also loved them each as character. The whole story has a humorous and intelligent vibes with plausible and proportionate interactions between cat and human, while the mystery has an interesting plot. No need to say, it's a wonderful beginning of a series, which I would definitely continue to read!

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐1/2

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hosted by Mallika @ Literary Potpourri

20 Books of Summer 2024
hosted by Cathy @ 746 Books


  1. Thank you for this lovely post Fanda; I had heard about this series but have not read it yet. It sounds so good, especially the newspaper-reading kitty who helps solve crimes. The art theme is very appealing too. So glad you enjoyed this one.

  2. I also read this (review will happen, eventually…) and loved it. Jackson Braun has an excellent writing style, lots of dry wit and pithy observations; no word is wasted. And Koko - what a cat! I enjoyed this book so much that I bought the next 5 in a second hand deal on eBay - I’m looking forward to following Qwilleran and Koko’s subsequent adventures!


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