Lilian Jackson Braun's tenth cat book starts off with the death of one of the most beloved long-time characters in the series. It is quite a testament to Braun's writing ability that I felt so saddened by this person's death and I was indeed quite upset. It is not clear early on if this death is a murder or a simple heart attack but as usual, Qwilleran is suspicious. Braun has the ability to make her readers feel as if they know the people of Moose County and have lived there for years and this is what is so endearing about this series. This story also starts out with Qwilleran telling the story in the first person which is a new twist and fortunately one that just sort of melts away early in the book.
As in previous stories the mystery is mostly a background for another tale of Moose County but this time there are only two deaths to deal with. Among the more memorable characters to wander in and out of this story are ninety-four year old Homer Tibbitt and his slightly younger girlfriend Rhoda, who refuses to get her hearing aide fixed. One of their conversations culminates with Homer yelling at Rhoda, "I said potties-not poppies!" This conversation sent me into fits of laughter and is typical of Braun's wonderful writing style.
Like all small rural communities, Moose County has it's secrets, one of which Qwilleran uncovers while puzzling over his friend's death. It turns out that one of the area's most famous incidents was all a fake and that at least one Moose County resident had lived long past his funeral. A secret that in the end will remain locked away in Qwilleran's mind and in the secret compartment of a Dingleberry desk.
As is the case in most of these books, Koko tries to give Qwilleran clues but time and again the former reporter looks over the hints. Once the mystery is solved however, Qwilleran realizes once again that his highly intelligent feline has had things figured out for quite some time. If only Qwilleran could warm up to his girlfriend's new cat, who he refers to as Bigfoot, as quickly as he warmed up to the goat farmer next door. This tenth trip into the wild and wonderful world of Jim Qwilleran is a journey well worth taking, even if there is more Moose than mystery.