Posted in Reviews

The Cat Who Could Read Backwards -Lilian Jackson Braun REVIEW

Earlier this year I (accidentally) read the second of The Cat Who… series, before reading the first. See my review of that here! Now I finally got around to reading the first. Did it live up to its sequel? Let’s find out!


Jim Qwilleran is 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.

PG (Some violence and disturbing imagery) : 256 pages

The Good:

  • I love how Braun writes. She spends so much time establishing settings and characters that I actually felt like I was there.
  • Qwilleran is an awesome protagonist. It is nice to read from the perspective of a normal, middle-aged, guy.
  • Qwilleran is an art journalist in this book. That sets up an interesting and unique perspective of a mystery that I have never seen before.
  • I also really enjoyed the journalism aspect. I like that Qwilleran isn’t a professional investigator or spy because it feels like even I could achieve what he does.

The Bad:

  • I did not like the reveal at the end of this mystery. That is a big deal to me. I felt like it really built up to nothing and that upsets me to no end.
  • I just mentioned it built up to nothing, but during the build up and even the climax, I was never on the edge of my seat. In a mystery, I’d like a little bit more suspense.

Overall, I enjoyed the build up of this book, but the ending let me down. I would still recommend it, but keep in mind it’s no masterpiece.


  • Characters   – 4/5 (Qwilleran is great, the rest are meh.)
  • Plot                – 3/5 (Fun mystery)
  • Writing         – 4/5 (Very descriptive)
  • Uniqueness – 3/5 (Art is unique/ bad reveal)

Overall I give this 3.5 Stingy Art Critics out of 5

Have you read this? What did you think about it? I would love to know!





Just a college student with an unnatural love for books and too many thoughts to keep to herself.

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