The Cat Who Ate Danish Modern by Lilian Jackson Braun is the second book in the cosy mystery series, The Cat Who…. Feeling immensely nostalgic for the series that got me interested in reading mysteries way back in junior high school, I decided to continue onwards with it upon finishing the first book. It’s still a bit out-dated, but it does have a charm to it that I’m blaming entirely on the cats!
The Cat Who Ate Danish Modern takes Jim Qwilleran and his Siamese kitty, Koko, on a small adventure as they search for a new place to live. Meanwhile, Jim gets re-assigned at the local paper to do the interior design beat, something he is less than thrilled about. As he makes his rounds around the neighbourhood, Jim realises that his career as a journalist may be in jeopardy when the houses he features end up in one criminal mishap or another, until finally a murder is committed! Determined to get to the bottom of everything, him and his trusty feline companion work hard at solving the case.
One of the first things that I noticed about this book versus the last one is that the plot gets to the point a hell of a lot faster than its previous counterpart. I suspect most of that has to do with foundation needing to be laid as an introductory volume has to acquaint the readers with the main, returning cast, the setting, and all that jazz. Either way, it helped me get far more invested in the story at much more enjoyable pace.
While the plot kicks up more hastily, the progression of it and the process of which clues are revealed still maintain a gradual unfolding to it. If you are an impatient mystery reader, which on occasion I definitely can be, then this may brother you or irritate you a tad bit. I found myself fluctuating with the way things came into the light depending on my specific mood at the time I picked up the book. I feel I should admit that I was going through a small slump at the time and I’m sure that contributed somewhat to my flippant impatience. However, it’s still something to keep in mind.
One of the things I found most pleasurable, as I did with the previous volume, is the loads of information that I receive relating to specific subject matters the book focuses on. For example, in the The Cat Who Could Read Backwards, I learned quite a bit about the art scene specific to the 1960s (when the book was written). In The Cat Who Ate Danish Modern, the knowledge acquired concentrated on interior design of the same era. I had no idea that there were specific abbreviations that are considered absolutely off-limits (e.g.: draperies should never be called drapes; who would’ve known?!). These small anecdotes and random morsels of data were intriguing as well as hilariously amusing to me, depending on what it was. It was also fun to see how it played to the plot.
We call this building the Architects’ Revenge. The balconies are designed to be too sunny, too windy, and too dirty. The cinders that hurtle through my living room are capable of putting out an eyeball. But it’s a good address. Some of the best people live in this building, several of them blind in one eye.”
Koko and Jim’s exchanges are getting more and more adorable as their bond grows deeper. I find Koko to be so delightfully endearing, particularly where he outsmarts and manipulates Jim for his own pampered benefits. It reminds me of my cats and my heart blooms with both empathy and mirth.
The outdated use of some language is still an issue that will be off-putting to most readers. I know that when it sprouted up, I cringed every single time. The 60s definitely didn’t have the kind of climate that we do today, where offensive terms such as “Orientals” (used to describe East Asians) was seen as anything other than a descriptive to differentiate ethnicities, but now it’s viewed to be very, very inappropriate (as it should be). I still wholeheartedly believe that this is fault of the period of which the book was written rather than the author’s intent at being a bigot. I suppose when I get to the more modern instalments one day, then I’ll know for sure! Hopefully the language and dialogue usage in the serial will have evolved with the times by that point.
All in all, The Cat Who Ate Danish Modern was a decent cosy mystery for me that satisfied my kitty-loving side very much, as well as the part of me that likes easy, chill reads before bed. I do recommend them, just do go into them with a grain of salt.
3 jades outta 5!