The Cat Who Ate Danish Modern

May 8, 2009

danish-modern Plot summary (with possible spoilers): Newspaper reporter Jim Qwilleran has just been given a new assignment at the Daily Fluxion. He’s to become the lead reporter for the paper’s “Gracious Abodes” magazine, which will feature photos and stories of some of the most distinctive homes in the area. Qwilleran, who has been used to the fast pace of the crime beat, doesn’t consider this latest assignment to be worthy of his talents, but he’s not about to argue and perhaps lose his job over it.

The first “gracious abode” that Qwilleran and photographer Odd Bunsen cover belongs to Mr. and Mrs. Tait, who have a lovely home and an even lovelier jade collection. The article comes off without a hitch and looks great in the magazine — but just a few hours after it’s printed, word filters back to the Daily Fluxion that Mrs. Tait has been murdered and that the jade has been stolen.

At first glance, it appears that someone got wind of the collection from the Gracious Abodes spread and pulled off the heist soon thereafter. But the logistics involved in putting together a caper that quickly made it apparent that the crime had to be an inside job. The police focus on the houseboy, who has conveniently disappeared since the robbery. But Qwilleran’s instincts tell him that the cops are missing an essential piece of the puzzle. He decides to investigate as much as he can to see what he can turn up on his own.

As the novel progresses, Qwilleran gets some timely hints from Koko, his brilliant Siamese cat. Koko doesn’t actually do any detective work, of course, but his quirky actions (licking an important photograph, chewing up a chair made in the Danish modern mode — which, BTW, eww! Time for some nuphedra or appetite suppressants!) lead Qwilleran to consider these things in a new light, which eventually brings him around to the correct solution.

Liked:

  • This is a very quick and easy read. Something enjoyable to get through in a single weekend.
  • Braun is actually a decent writer, which is not always the case with prolific authors. But I find that she does a nice job of mixing up characterization and plot, while continuously advancing the mystery along.
  • Qwilleran and Koko make a great pair, and now there will be another member added to the team (Yum Yum). I can’t wait to see how the new cat affects the dynamics!

Disliked:

  • The suspects and victims didn’t really have clear personalities, so I had trouble differentiating between the characters. I couldn’t keep anyone straight, and consequently found it impossible to try to guess who was innocent and who was guilty.
  • The solution seemed a bit confusing as well. I finished the book a few days ago, but have already forgotten why the second victim was murdered. I just remember that it didn’t make much sense to me when I read it.

Rating:

The Cat Who Ate Danish Modern is a nice little mystery for those who aren’t looking for a hard-hitting thriller. It’s not gruesome, it’s not fraught with tension, and it’s not something that you’ll enjoy puzzling over. But it does move quickly and the lead character is interesting, which is quite enough for most people. I give this book 3 stars out of 5.

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