The Great Food Explo is scheduled to open with a bang, introducing new restaurants, country inns, food specialty shops & a new food page in the "Moose County Something." Unfortunately, before the Explo can begin, a bomb wrecks the hotel, killing a housekeeper & causing extensive damage. Enter Qwill, Koko, & Yum Yum, with suspicions that the bomb was meant as something stronger than a warning to someone. Qwilleran has moustache-twitching suspicions about the whole situation but no evidence other than Koko & Yum Yum's new interest in cheese, especially Gruyere, Brie & Feta. While Qwill searches for clues, a possible witness to the bombing surfaces, but he is shot to death before he is questioned
One of the best in the 19-title Cat Who . . . series (one of which is a short-story collection), this latest adventure finds newspaper columnist Jim Qwilleran more likable and his feline sleuthing partners, Siamese Yum Yum and Koko, more intuitive than ever. The small town of Pickax City is about to celebrate the Great Food Expo when a stranger moves into the community's dismal, but only, hotel. Both events engage even the reticent Qwill, as townsfolk get ready for restaurant openings and a pastry bake-off while trying to find out more about the mysterious woman. Qwill gets the jump on everyone when he runs into the woman at his summer cabin, but before he can learn much about her, a bomb explodes in her hotel room while she is out and kills one of the staff. When the woman then vanishes, Qwill suspects she is a fugitive fearing for her life. While the police investigate, attention is redirected toward the Food Expo, in which Qwill participates as both food judge and bachelor auction prize. But the hotel bombing and the mysterious woman are never far from his thoughts, nor from the inspired cogitations of Koko, who neatly untangles a web of eccentric characters and mistaken identities. Mystery Guild and Readers Digest Condensed Book selection; Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club alternate. (Feb.) -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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March 01, 1997
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Excerpt from The Cat Who Said Cheese by Lilian Jackson Braun
"Autumn, in that year of surprises, was particularly delicious in Moose County, 400 miles north of everywhere. Not only had most of the summer vacationers gone home, but civic-awareness groups and enthusiastic foodies were cooking up a savory kettle of stew called the Great Food Expo. Then, to add spice to the season, a mystery woman registered at the hotel in Pickax City, the county seat. She was not beautiful. She was not exactly young. She avoided people. And she always wore black.
The townfolk of Pickax (population 3,000) were fascinated by her enigmatic presence. "Have you seen her?" they asked each other. "She's been here over a week. Who do you think she is?"
The hotel desk clerk refused to divulge her name even to his best friends, saying it was prohibited by law. That convinced everyone that the mystery woman had bribed him for nefarious reasons of her own, since Lenny Inchpot was not the town's most law-abiding citizen.
So they went on commenting about her olive complexion, sultry brown eyes, and lush mop of dark hair that half covered the left side of her face. Yet, the burning question remained: "Why is she staying at that firetrap of a flophouse?" That attitude was unfair. The New Pickax Hotel, though gloomy, was respectable and painfully clean, and there was a fire escape in the rear. There was even a presidential suite, although no president had ever stayed there -- not even a candidate for the state legislature on an unpopular ticket. Nevertheless, no one had been known to lodge there for more than a single night, or two at the most, and travel agents around the country were influenced by an entry in their directory of lodgings: