We have lost an extremely popular mystery author - Lilian Jackson Braun, the author of the best-selling "The Cat Who..." series has died. She was 97 years old.
Lilian Jackson Braun began writing her "The Cat Who..." mysteries back in the mid-1960s, but the series stopped after three novels, because, she said, the publisher wanted her to put more sex and violence into the books, something she was unwilling to do. She didn't return to mystery writing until persuaded to do so by her second husband, Earl Bettinger, in the late 1980s, and all of her later books include a dedication to him as "The husband who..."
Her books featured a newspaperman named Jim Qwilleran, but they were really about his Siamese cats, Koko and Yum Yum, who played major roles in the novels, often by cryptically calling Qwilleran's attention to some object or book that might be construed as a clue. Most of the later books are set in the fictional town of Pickax, which was said to be modeled on the real town of Bad Axe, Michigan, where the Bettingers lived until the mid-1980s.
In all, Lilian Jackson Braun wrote 29 novels in the series. If you enjoy "cozies," you probably already have read some of her books - if not, you should do so. Personally, I can't recommend the last couple - I felt that - to me - they abandoned mystery and simply became loosely connected anecdotes. But most of her earlier books were quite good, surprisingly ingenious, entertaining and she certainly earned her place on the best-seller lists. The Washington Post had a pretty good obituary, and you might also enjoy this profile originally published by the Detroit Free Press in 1987, which the newspaper reprinted this week as a tribute to The Author Who...