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5.0 out of 5 stars This is the one that got me hooked!
A couple of years ago, I came across this in audiobook format and got it. I had seen some of the books but never purchased any. I listened to it (which is the 20th of the Qwilleran books) and I was hooked! I loved it. I am a cat lover and a lover of light mysteries, and this story had both. The death of a woman in a fire was a little too creepy for me, but other...
Published on Aug. 21 2000 by julinda

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3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
I generally enjoy Lillian Jackson Braun's "Cat Who," books. I have read them all and was a subscriber and contributor to now defunct newsletter that promoted the books. I eagerly waited the 20th book, "The Cat Who Sang to the Birds." I was disappointed. The story line, as in the other 19 books, continues the relationships of the recurring characters. (That's why it's...
Published on Feb. 21 1998 by Harold L. Laroff


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4.0 out of 5 stars Yum Yum Goes Cuckoo for a Yo-Yo, Oct. 16 2006
By 
Dennis Phillips (Bulls Gap, Tennessee) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Cat Who Sang for the Birds (Mass Market Paperback)
Once again we tune in on the denizens of Moose County and find all in an uproar. In fact there are several uproars going on in this cozy neighborhood located 400 miles north of everywhere. First there is the new art center which most people love but the director somehow expects the farmers in the vicinity to keep their dirt off of the roads. When it rains you see, that dirt becomes mud and eventually gets tracked into the art center. Worse yet, the library has gotten rid of their card catalog and replaced it with a computer. This little innovation even sparks a demonstration complete with a grill for burning protestor's library cards.

Amid all of the normal Pickax City hubbub resides the ever-affable Jim Qwilleran and his mystery solving cats Koko and Yum Yum. In this entry in the series Koko has taken to singing like a bird and communing with his bird friends as often as he can. He has also been on the case again after a suspicious fire claims the life of one of Pickax's oldest citizens. The authorities rule that the fire started with a kerosene heater but Qwill doesn't buy it and neither does Koko. Yum Yum for her part is happy playing with her new yo-yo.

Eventually of course everything works out and as in previous books Qwill looks back to see just how precise Koko's clues were. For those new to the series Koko, although talented can't talk but he tries to tell Qwill what has happened in some odd ways. Usually however Qwill doesn't figure out Koko's clues until he has solved the mystery on his own. The best thing about this series besides the wonderful cast of characters is that the reader gets the same clues as does Qwilleran and if one pays very close attention Koko will tell you who done it long before the solution is revealed.

Overall this book, while enjoyable is just a little darker than most of the previous entries, although the body count is fairly low especially compared to some of its predecessors. I can't put my finger on the difference but there is a slightly different tone to this book and it is not an altogether welcome change. On the other hand this is still a very fun and entertaining read and this is a book that should be on every cozy mystery lover's bookshelf.
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5.0 out of 5 stars This is the one that got me hooked!, Aug. 21 2000
This review is from: The Cat Who Sang for the Birds (Mass Market Paperback)
A couple of years ago, I came across this in audiobook format and got it. I had seen some of the books but never purchased any. I listened to it (which is the 20th of the Qwilleran books) and I was hooked! I loved it. I am a cat lover and a lover of light mysteries, and this story had both. The death of a woman in a fire was a little too creepy for me, but other than that, it was light fair very similar to the "Murder She Wrote" TV series that I am still watching in syndication. This book got me hooked and I went to the beginning (The Cat Who Could Read Backwards) and have bought and read the paperback version of each one in order. When I got to this one, I bought and read the book and read it, even though I had heard the audiobook already. It was neat to read the story now that I have a familiarity with the recurring characters. One thing - I don't remember the spelling bee subplot being in the audiobook. The audiobooks are abridged, and that may be something they just removed entirely. (Or I could be forgetting it.) Anyway, I think this is a great book and part of a great series. I am so glad I tried it, and I highly recommend this story and the series to all light mystery lovers.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, Feb. 21 1998
I generally enjoy Lillian Jackson Braun's "Cat Who," books. I have read them all and was a subscriber and contributor to now defunct newsletter that promoted the books. I eagerly waited the 20th book, "The Cat Who Sang to the Birds." I was disappointed. The story line, as in the other 19 books, continues the relationships of the recurring characters. (That's why it's important to read the books, including the collecting of short stories, in sequence.) The latest entry finds a very early Spring in Moose County. Qwillearan interview with an elderly woman who dies in suspicious fire, sketches stolen from the newly opened art museum and a the disappearance of a young artist should make for an exciting novel. It falls short. The cats do play a part in the investigation but their role is not as involved as in the past books. Fans of LJB probably will want to read this book. Those who have never read her books might be turned off from searching out the older ones. For me, there is always next year and the 21st "Cat Who.." book.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Assez-passable, but is this really Braun?, Feb. 20 1998
By 
racapowski (Great Falls, MT USA) - See all my reviews
The Cat Who Sang for the Birds has me boondoggled. I don't dislike it; it undoubtedly constitutes a step forward from the previous two installments. And yet there are deep-seated flaws - suspiciously uneven writing and conspicuously uncharacteristic elements - that will so confound longtime fans that the mysteries IN the book are far overshadowed by the mystery OF the book.

The mystery is a given; though the details of the crime itself aren't immediately clear, once the (eventual) perpetrator comes on the scene, we know there is no possible way that this irreconcilably crass, obnoxious, ornery cuss is gonna be permitted to leave the novel unindicted. I'm afraid that a throwaway mystery has now become a Cat Who series standard.

The success here rides on Moose County's natives; contrasted with the homogenous faces of the last few attempts, we have a more developed, diverse, and interesting mix of characters this time around - jocular radio weatherman Wetherby !Goode, the perfect accomplice for Qwill to pump for information and with whom to share sneaking suspicions; amiable, good-hearted yet naive heiress Elizabeth Hart, engaging Qwill in the grandfather-confidante talks that made her so endearing in her first appearance; dying-to-grow-up editor Junior Goodwinter, in a fleet cameo after a long absence; and, of course, chuckheaded underachiever Derek Cuttlebrink, amusing just through his good-natured obliviousness to his own simplemindedness. The chemistry and interaction here is much more fruitful, convincing, and satisfying, and in effect makes Pickax seem much more like a community.

And yet there remain characterization missteps, most notably the passel of dead-ends at the Art Center. Ironically, these "artists" are devoid of any creativity or life - with the treatment the art world got in the early installments, the retread here seems anemic and redundant. They never add anything to the story; they just remain isolated in t!heir own sterile little world, as if they wandered in from another series all together. It all leaves one wondering how Braun could get the older, familiar characters so right - and yet drop in another set so ill-fittingly one-dimensional?

See, we have things that are very, very good and those that are out of place all smooshed together in one incongruous package. Which leads me to this hypothetical question - did Lilian Jackson Braun truly write the entire text of this novel? My answer is no, not based on the evidence Sang for the Birds provides. First, there is the unusually youthful slant, from the anti-DWI fake high school car crash to the perils of Derek and "Butterfly Girl" Phoebe to the Art Center personae. This tack, for Moose County, is all wrong; an older, wiser cast in a quaint, close-knit small town from days gone by was one of the series's earmarks and made the books a refreshing backlash against today's loud, go-go-go, teenage-obsessed media. Braun featured! a share of young characters before, but she always presented them with mature dilemmas and responsible consciences; here, the kids seem particularly jejune and their problems bubblegumish, and the lapse reflects the overall unfamiliarity with how to culitvate the mood that set the Cat Who series apart.

Braun did it largely through the little details. Take Qwill's rencontres with the locals - we got just enough background to set the person's place in the community and relationship to Qwilleran, yet not so much that it broke the sense of well-worn familiarity between Qwill, the residents of Pickax, and the reader. There's no sense of that balance here, as Qwill's mental narration launches into long recounts of awkward background overkill, as if the author her(or him)self had to be reacquainted with the characters. That trend resurfaces throughout the book, with the laborious dredging up of old series in-jokes like Mrs. Fisheye and Ronald Frobnitz. One could even take the !examples of good characterization (since they are all previously introduced charas) as evidence of a new author who must make up for lack of experience by recalling and resurrecting what was best about the series in an overt effort to convince us that, yes, this is a bona fide, full-fledged Cat Who book. The lack of subtlety is painfully noticeable, and the purpose behind such easily decipherable.

The most telltale sign, however, is the erratic behavior of her hero. Even in the sub-par installments, Qwilleran was always Qwilleran - an inquisitive, sardonic, sensible, sympathetic, steady center. Here, though, we run into two big goofs. The first comes when he commissions a portrait of Polly, a serious misstep - Qwilleran and Polly's relationship always held a defining note of mutual respect and quiet love. Neither would ever show such overt adulation for or romanticization of the other. And I cannot abide the second - I'm sorry, but when the book ends with our favorite do!wn-to-earth pseudo-curmudgeon actually considering collaborating on an animated feature starring cartooned crows, I must take issue.

There are several good ideas in the novel - Mary Coggin, Koko's bird garden, the uprising against computers in the library and its subsequent solution, the spell-off - that could only have come from Braun; her touch is not totally absent. But the mistakes here are of the sort that Braun would never commit. She might be grooming another author to carry on after her retirement - a theory quite plausible in light of the story's elegiac overtones. There's considerable talk of tombstones and graves, and the poem by "James Mackintosh Qwillleran" on the jacket (the first appearance of any such work) seems like nothing but an epitaph. Most suspiciously wistful is the ending reassemblage of the steadfast quartet of Qwill, Polly, Arch, and Mildred, reminiscing of good times past and looking forward to resuming comfortable habits and finally winning t!hose ever-elusive little victories, as if reassuring the reader that, hey, no matter what happens, they'll be all right and they'll trudge on. It's the end of an era either way - and, in either case, the world will be a little less bright.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A fan favorite just in time for Valentine's Day, Jan. 26 1998
By A Customer
The early Spring should bring with it a gentle serenity to the citizens of Pickax City, Moose County, especially since the new art museum is opening. However, some of the leading citizens are irate because across the street from their newest attraction sits the dilapidated eyesore of a homestead belonging to the Widow Coggin.
Newspaper columnist Jim Qwilleran interviews the feisty elderly woman. However, shortly afterward, she dies in a strange fire that has the markings of arson. Following the fire, some nude sketches are stolen from the museum and a young artist disappears. Qwill, who has a full personal agenda, is nudged by his Siamese cats, Koko and Yum Yum, to begin to investigate the weird happenings "four hundred miles north of everywhere".
The twentieth entry in "The Cat" series should please fans of Lilian Jackson Braun's long running series, but everyone else will prefer walking the dog. The story line provides much insight into the various relationships of the recurring characters, but the sleuthing is microscopically small. Still, those who religiously follow the series will want to learn more about their heroes, heroines, and felines.
Harriet Klausner
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5.0 out of 5 stars I Never met a "Cat Who . . . " book I haven't enjoyed, April 1 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Cat Who Sang for the Birds (Mass Market Paperback)
I have found Mr. Q, Koko and Yum-Yum to be delightful company. I discovered them in the local library in the "Try it you'll like it" section. I have been a faithful reader ever since. The "Cat Who . . ." series are a welcome change from the explicit violence and sex that are found in so many of today's reading material. It is wonderful to find a comtempary writer whose works I feel comfortable pasing along to my teen-agers. I love the tongue-in-cheek humor. Where is the Northeast Central U.S.? I love the character names, the place names, and the name of the local newspaper. The relationship between the Humans and the cats is refreshing, delightful and humorous. Our library didn't have the complete set. I liked these books so much I buy the ones they don't have and give them to the library. I look forward to inviting Mr. Q, Koko, Yum-Yum, Polly, Arch, Derek, and company into our home as soon as the next book is completed.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Really great addition to the series, April 7 2000
By 
Chel Micheline "Chel Micheline" (Southwest Florida) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Cat Who Sang for the Birds (Mass Market Paperback)
Although a lot of diehard fans argue that this is the first "The Cat Who" book that may provide evidence that Lillian Jackson Braun is no longer writing the series, I honestly think that "The Cat Who Sang for the Birds" is a wonderful book. It is a great addition to any "Cat Who" collection. The characters in this book are given much care and thought, and it is a definite page turner. It was this book that made me wish for a real Pickax, so that I could go live among these wonderful people. Qwilleran becomes more compassionate in these pages, Polly loses her constant doubting attitude, and the rest of the residents of Pickax become more than just "characters" in Qwill's life. If Lilian Jackson Braun did indeed pass on her pen, then the author of this book would be an excellent successor. Long live the Siamese!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Still worth the visit, Feb. 21 1998
By 
Ann W. Unemori (Savannah, GA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Ms.Braun*s latest returns us to Pickax for another visit with Koko, another bit of mayhem. As always, the book*s real appeal is less solving the mystery, and more in watching Jim Qwilleran, his brilliant cats, his lady fair Polly Duncan, and the daily lives of the townspeople. I always look forward to what happens to Homer Tippet, Celia, Robinson, Junior Goodwinter, and other assorted Pickaxers over the series. Even the deceased Iris Cobb is mentioned. The gradual development, the library gets a computer and two cats, the growth of the arts college, compel in a small-town way. The actual Murder, of an old woman tending her small farm, propels the plot without dominating the book. Koko himself, the brilliant cat who always provides the clue that reveals the case, is less prominent than previously, but no less important.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing Introduction to "The Cat Who" Books, June 3 2001
This review is from: The Cat Who Sang for the Birds (Mass Market Paperback)
This is my first "Cat Who" book, and I must say I was disappointed. There didn't seem to be much of a plot and there was no really no character build-up. There was no remorse over the 'Butterfly Girl' because we never really got to know her and the rogue boyfriend didn't seem to fit with any of the rest of the book. The cats were mentioned very little and the 'psychic' powers of Koko - while interesting - were more than implausible with the 'WEST' deductions.
All-in-All it was an "I must finish this book because I paid for it." experience. Based on the comments of other reviewers - this was not Braun's best - So I may still give one of the earlier books a try.
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5.0 out of 5 stars for Moose County content 4 for anyone else, Jan. 23 2004
By 
Jeanne Tassotto (Trapped in the Midwest) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Cat Who Sang for the Birds (Mass Market Paperback)
Jim Qwilleran, newspaper columnist and wealthiest man in Moose County (400 miles north of everywhere) finds himself involved in another round of mysteries. This time an eccentric Moose County old timer dies under circumstances that make Qwill suspicious. Aided by hints dropped by Koko, his Siamese cat, Qwill begins to unravel the mystery and is led into a tangle involving county corruption, love affairs and greed. As always Qwill and Koko manage to solve the crimes even though the usual Moose County events intrude.
For fans of the series there are many Moose County moments to savor. There is enough mystery here to satisfy fans of the general cozy genre as well.
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The Cat Who Sang for the Birds
The Cat Who Sang for the Birds by Lilian Jackson Braun (Mass Market Paperback - Jan. 11 2002)
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