Qwill's on his way to Scotland--and on his way to solving another purr-plexing mystery. But this time Koko's nowhere the scene of the crime. He and Yum Yum are back in Pickax being coddled by a catsitter...
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January 01, 2003
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Excerpt from The Cat Who Wasn't There by Lilian Jackson Braun
IN LATE AUGUST, sixteen residents of Moose County, a remote part of the United States 400 miles north of everywhere, traveled to Scotland for a tour of the Western Isles and Highlands, lochs and moors, castles and crofts, firths and straths, burns and braes, fens and bens and glens. Only fifteen of them returned alive, and the survivors straggled home in various states of shock or confusion.
Among the travelers who signed up for the Bonnie Scots Tour were several prominent persons in Pickax City, the county seat. They included the owner of the department store, the superintendent of schools, a young doctor from a distinguished family, the publisher of the local newspaper, the administrator of the public library, and a good-looking, well-built, middle-aged man with a luxuriant pepper-and-salt moustache and drooping eyelids, who happened to be the richest bachelor in Moose County -- or in fact the entire northeast central United States.
Jim Qwilleran's wealth was not the result of his own effort but a fluke inheritance. As a journalist, he had been content to pound a beat, churn out copy, and race deadlines for large metropolitan dailies Down Below. (So Pickax folk called the urban areas to the south.) Then fate brought him to Pickax City (population 3,000) and made him heir to the Klingenschoen estate.
It was more money than he really wanted. The uncounted millions hung over his head like a dark cloud until he established the Klingenschoen Foundation to dispose of the fortune philanthropically, leaving him free to live in a barn, write a column for the Moose County Something, feed and brush his two Siamese cats, and spend pleasant weekends with Polly Duncan, head of the Pickax Public Library.
When the tour to Scotland was proposed, Qwilleran and his feline companions had just returned from a brief sojourn in some distant mountains, a vacation cut short by disturbing news from Pickax. Polly Duncan, while driving home after dark, had been followed by a man in a car without lights, narrowly escaping his clutches. When Qwilleran heard the news, he had a sickening vision of attempted kidnapping; his relationship with Polly was well known in the county, and his millions made him an easy mark for a ransom demand.