The Cat Who Went Bananas (The Cat Who... Series #27)

The Cat Who Went Bananas (The Cat Who... Series #27)

by Lilian Jackson Braun

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Siamese cat Koko finds a bunch of clues when an out-of-town actor dies mysteriously in this mystery in the New York Times bestselling Cat Who series.

With the opening night of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest fast approaching—along with the dedication of the new bookstore in town—good times are ahead for the citizens of Pickax. But the merry atmosphere is dampened by the suspicious death of an out-of-town actor and the theft of a rare book. Qwill finds himself distracted from the recent events by his finicky pal Koko, who’s been acting more fishy than feline. Has Koko gone bananas, or is he trying to let the cat out of the bag to help Qwill solve the dual mysteries?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780515139785
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 12/27/2005
Series: Cat Who... Series , #27
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 90,451
Product dimensions: 6.76(w) x 10.88(h) x 0.83(d)

About the Author

The history of Lilian Jackson Braun is perhaps as exciting and mysterious as her novels. Between 1966 and 1968, she published three novels to critical acclaim: The Cat Who Could Read Backwards, The Cat Who Ate Danish Modern, and The Cat Who Turned On and Off.  In 1966, the New York Times labeled Braun, “the new detective of the year.” Then, for reasons unknown, the rising mystery author disappeared from the publishing scene. It wasn’t until 1986 that Berkley Publishing Group reintroduced Braun to the public with the publication of an original paperback, The Cat Who Saw Red. Within two years, Berkley released four new novels in paperback and reprinted the three mysteries from the sixties. Since then, G.P. Putnam’s Sons has published seventeen additional novels in the Cat Who series. Braun passed away in 2011.


North Carolina

Date of Birth:


Date of Death:

June 4, 2011

Place of Birth:


Place of Death:

South Carolina


Graduated from high school at age 16

Read an Excerpt




Copyright © 2004 Lilian Jackson Braun
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-399-15224-5

Chapter One

Jim Qwilleran was primarily a columnist for the Moose County Something, but he was more. Previously a crime reporter for major dailies across the continent, he had relocated in the north country when he inherited the vast Klingenschoen fortune. This he immediately turned over to a philanthropic foundation, claiming that he felt uncomfortable with too much money. The K Fund, as it was called, improved schools, medical facilities, and the general quality of life in Moose County, leaving Qwilleran free to mix with the people, listen to their stories, write his column, and manage the care and feeding of two Siamese cats.

The three of them lived in a converted apple barn on the edge of Pickax City. It was there that Qwilleran was preparing their breakfast one day in September, arranging red salmon attractively on two plates with a garnish of crumbled Roquefort. (They were somewhat spoiled.) They sat on top of the bar in two identical bundles of fur, supervising the flood preparation.

They were Koko and Yum Yum, well known to readers of the "Qwill Pen" column. The male was lithe, muscular, and cocky; the female smaller and softer and modest, although she could be demanding.

Both had the fawn fur, precise brown points, and blue eyes of the breed ... aswell as the Siamese tendency to voice an opinion on everything; Koko with a vehement "Yow!" and Yum Yum with a soprano "Now-ow!"

Just as Qwilleran was placing the two plates on the floor under the kitchen table, Koko's attention jerked away to a spot on the wall. A moment later the wall phone rang.

Before it could ring twice, Qwilleran said pleasantly into the mouthpiece, "Good morning."

"You're quick on the trigger, Qwill!" said the well-modulated voice of a woman he knew, Carol Lanspeak.

He explained, "I have an electronic sensor here. He tells me when the phone is going to ring and even screens incoming calls as acceptable or otherwise. What's on your mind, Carol?"

"Just wanted to ask if you're going to write the program notes for the new production."

"Actually, I have another idea I'd like to discuss with you. Will you be in the store this morning?"

"All day! How about coffee and doughnuts at ten o'clock?"

"Not today," he said regretfully. "I've just had my annual physical, and Dr. Diane lectured me on my diet."

The Lanspeaks were a fourth-generation family in Moose County, dating back to pioneer days. Larry's grandmother ran a general store, selling kerosene, calico, and penny candy. Larry's father started the department store on Main Street. Larry himself, having acting talent, went to New York and had a little success, but then he married an actress and they came back to Pickax to manage the family business and launch a theatre club. Larry's daughter was the medical doctor who advised Qwilleran to consume more broccoli, less coffee-and one banana a day.

After taking leave of the cats, Qwilleran walked downtown to Lanspeak's Department Store. From the barnyard an unpaved road led through a dense patch of woods to the Park Circle, where Main Street divided around a small park. On its rim were two churches, the courthouse, the public library, and a huge block of fieldstone that had once been the Klingenschcoen mansion.

Now it was a theatre for stage productions, and the headquarters of the Pickax theatre club. Northward, Main Street was a stretch of stone buildings more than a century old-now housing stores, offices, and the newly refurbished Mackintosh Inn.

The Lanspeaks' department store, which had started a century before, advertised "new-fashioned ideas with old-fashioned service."

Arriving there, Qwilleran walked between glass cases of jewelry, scarves, handbags, cosmetics, and blouses-to the offices in the rear, bowing to the clerks who hailed him: "Hi, Mr. Q. How's Koko, Mr. Q?"

He was known not only for his lively newspaper column and his philanthropy and his Siamese cats, but also for his magnificent pepper-and-salt moustache! It had not been equaled since Mark Twain visited Pickax in 1895. Qwilleran was a well-built six-feet-two, in his fifties, with a pleasing manner and a mellifluous voice. But it was his impressive moustache and brooding gaze that attracted attention. His photo appeared at the top of each "Qwill Pen" column.

Both Lanspeaks were working in the office.

Apart from their voice quality, there was nothing about the couple to mark them as actors. There was nothing striking about them, but onstage they could assume different personalities with professional skill. At the moment they were small-town storekeepers.

"Sit down, Qwill. I suppose you're well acquainted with our play," Larry said.

"We read it in college and went around talking like Lady Bracknell for the rest of the semester. Also, I've seen it performed a couple of times. It's a very stylish comedy. I'm curious to know why you scheduled it for this area-the boondocks, if you'll pardon the expression."

"Good question!" Larry replied. "Ask her! Wives sometimes rush in where husbands fear to tread."

Throwing a humorous smirk in his direction, Carol explained, "The club presents one classic play every year, and Larry and I happen to agree that Oscar Wilde is one of the wittiest playwrights who ever lived. The Lockmaster group did this play at the Academy of Arts two years ago. Superb! And Alden Wade, who played Jack Worthing, has just relocated in Pickax and joined the theatre club. He's terrifically talented and good-looking!"

"What brought him to Moose County?" Qwilleran asked.

"The tragic loss of his wife," Carol said. "He needed a drastic change of scene. It's definitely our gain. And since he has sold his property-a horse farm, I believe-it looks as if he intends to stay."

"That guy," Larry interrupted, "does the stylized upper-crust Jack Worthing so well that the rest of the cast is finding it contagious!"

"We had trouble casting the role of Algernon," Carol went on, "so Alden suggested Ronnie Dickson, who played the role in Lockmaster and was willing to help out, even though it's a sixty-mile round-trip drive for every rehearsal-and he hasn't missed a single one."

"Which is more than I can say for our own people," Larry added. "Now all we need to worry about is the audience. They'll be hearing perfectly straight-faced actors speaking outrageous lines. How will they react? I know a few who'll call it silly-and walk out."

Carol said, "Most people in Moose County like a laugh, but will they get the point? I'm wondering, Qwill, if you could write the program notes with that in mind."

"Precisely why I am here! I've noticed that our audiences never read the program notes before the show; they're too busy chatting with people they know in the surrounding seats. What they should know-in order to enjoy the play to the fullest-is not read until they get home. So here's my idea: Tuesday, to be exact, I'll devote the Qwill column to an explanation of the Oscar Wilde style."

"I like the idea!" Carol cried. "Everyone reads the 'Qwill Pen,' and you have a way of educating people without their knowledge."

"True!" Larry said. "The locals have a sense of humor; it's simply a matter of getting them tuned in. Give him a script of the play, Carol."

With the conference ended, Carol walked with Qwilleran to the front door, and Larry plunged into a stack of paperwork.

She asked, "Is Polly Duncan excited about changing jobs?"

"She's saddened to be leaving the library after twenty-odd years as director, but challenged by the prospect of managing a bookstore. Do you have anything to suggest as a graduation present? She has enough jewelry."

"We're expecting a shipment of lovely cashmere robes, including a heavenly shade of blue that Polly would love."

Qwilleran's footsteps never led him directly home. There was always a need to buy toothpaste at the drugstore or look at neckties in the men's shop. Today his curiosity led him to Walnut Street to view the new bookstore being bankrolled by the Klingenschoen Fund.

Across the street, a vacant lot that had long been the eyesore of Pickax City had been purchased by the K Fund. Its tall weeds and slum of abandoned buildings had been replaced by a park, and beyond that, a complex of studio apartments at rents affordable to young singles employed in stores and offices downtown. It was called Winston Park. With the coming of the bookstore, the entire commercial neighborhood was getting a face-lift.

Qwilleran wrote his Tuesday column in the style his readers liked.

Expect the unexpected, friends, when you go to see the new play. The Importance of Being Earnest is said to be the masterpiece of the nineteenth-century playwright and wit Oscar Wilde.

It's a comedy of manners-a spoof on the snobbish upper-crust society in London. According to director Carol Lanspeak, it calls for stylized acting, not realism. Their self-important posturing goes with their lofty opinions. Example:

"To lose one parent, Mr. Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune. To lose both looks like carelessness."

The plot is wacky, if not totally insane. One young bachelor has invented a wicked brother named Ernest, another has invented an invalid relative named Bunbury. Why? You'll have to see the play.

Figuring prominently in the plot is a handbag-not a woman's purse, but a small piece of luggage, just large enough to carry.... You'll have to wait and see!

Then there's the matter of cucumber sandwiches! A young gentleman sends out invitations to an afternoon tea and orders cucumber sandwiches as refreshments. They are so good that he eats the whole plateful before the guests arrive.

I asked food writer Mildred Riker what is so special about cucumber sandwiches. She said, "To make the classic sandwich, cut a round of bread, spread it with softened butter, layer it with crisp cucumbers sliced paper-thin, and top it with another round of buttered bread. They're delicious! You can't stop eating them!"

Some of the playwright's witticisms are still being used today:

"Thirty-five is a very attractive age. London is full of women of the highest society who have remained thirty-five for years."

Every evening at eleven o'clock, Qwilleran put a cap on the day by phoning Polly Duncan, the chief woman in his life. On this night she sounded weary.

"You've been working long hours again!" he chided her.

"There's so much to do!" she cried. "I spend mornings at the library and then seven or eight hours at the bookstore."

"You must shake loose and come to the opening night of the new play. I know you like Wilde."

"Oh dear! That's the night of the library board's farewell banquet for me!"

"Well, that's important. We'll catch it later. They're doing the play for three weekends. But I'll miss you on opening night. Everyone will ask about you."

There followed scraps of the unimportant news exchanged by persons who have known each other for a long time.

"You should drink a cup of cocoa and go to bed," he finally advised. "Is there anything I can do for you tomorrow?"

"Yes," she said promptly. "You could pick up Dundee!"


Excerpted from THE CAT WHO WENT BANANAS by LILIAN JACKSON BRAUN Copyright © 2004 by Lilian Jackson Braun. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


A Letter from Lilian Jackson Braun

Dear Reader:
No doubt you're wondering what bananas have to do with The Cat Who…. You'll have to wait until you read The Cat Who Went Bananas to find out. But meanwhile here are a few clues:

  1. The author eats a banana a day! They're good for you!
  2. The cats in my household have always been fascinated by banana peels. They like to steal them, sink their fangs into the spongy texture, and leave them in unsuitable places.
  3. Qwilleran automatically dislikes anything that's good for him, preferring a big dish of ice cream and a few chocolate chip cookies.
So much for going bananas. Other pet subjects of mine that get aired in this book are Oscar Wilde plays, rose watching, murder mysteries, and marmalade cats.

As always, Qwill is involved in books. For a long time he has dated a librarian, now employed as a bookstore manager. He has always wanted to "write a book" and he's finally realizing that dream. He reads books to his cats. (Don't we all? And, if not, why not? They love it!) And, when Koko pushes books off the shelf, the chosen title sometimes provides Qwilleran with the answer to a mystery…though we all know that's pure coincidence -- don't we?

I have long believed that cats and books go together. Eddington Smith's bookstore had a longhair, Winston, who dusted the preowned books with his tail. When the Pickax library was having a problem with disgruntled readers, the acquisition of two library cats, Mac and Katie, solved the problem. And now the new Pirate's Chest bookstore has a marmalade cat named Dundee who attracts customers.

I hope you enjoy reading my latest combination of cats and books, The Cat Who Went Bananas, as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Lilian Jackson Braun

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The Cat Who Went Bananas (The Cat Who... Series #27) 2.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 50 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
at the end of the book some of the question's Qwilleran never answered made many readers left hanging. But i think its ok for Qwilleran not to solve all of the questions, some are ment not to be answered. not everyone is invincible and can figure out all the crime!
MeriJenBen on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Jim Qwilleran celebrates the opening of a new bookstore in Pickax, meets a charismatic but shady character from Lockmaster and begins a new book about a historic, but ugly house in Moose County.As the Pirate's Chest, the new bookstore in Pickax prepares to open, Qwill is pleased to meet Violet Hibbard, a professor of English lit, who now runs a boarding house in her ancestral home. Built four-generations ago, Hibbard house is unique for being made entirely of wood, and for being spectacularly ugly. Qwill also meets Alden Wade, a charming Lockmaster ex-pat, in charge of special events for the new bookstore. Qwill is charmed by Violet, seeing in her a new dinner/discussion partner, now that Polly is too caught up in the bookstore for his taste. He's also impressed by Alden, although Koko takes a sudden and inexplicable dislike to the man. The marriage between the two causes (very) minor shock waves in the community, especially given Alden's reputation as a fortune hunter and the surprising death of his first wife.O.K. -- Ostensibly, this is a mystery, so, where is it? What's the crime, or wrongdoing, or unanswered question here? Violet dies, big surprise, as she is a new character and a local. Are we supposed to question the circumstances of her death? If so, then Braun shouldn't have set up a sudden aliment that could strike her down at any moment. Really. Is Alden a bad guy? Or just opportunistic? Did he kill Violet? Are we supposed to care? I've complained about the Cat Who books as being formulaic. They still are, and it seems like Braun has completely given up trying. This book didn't have an ending, it just stopped. As in "I hit XXX words in my manuscript, I can stop."Also, I'd like to point out that Jim Qwillerian is really a selfish bastard. He creates a new job for Polly, then gets pissy when she takes it seriously. I read these books to get my overactive brain to calm down enough to sleep; all I'm looking for is a kind of mental tapioca. This one didn't even deliver that.
benfulton on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The best that can be said is that the writing is polished. You might enjoy it if you're into soap operas, because the first couple of hundred pages involve nothing except setup; who all the characters are, where they came from, what they enjoy doing - rather like reading a history of a small town, except of course entirely fictional. Apparently at some point a murder happens, although I lost interest before that happened.
MrsLee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I thought I had read this already, but didn't seem to recall any of it. It didn't matter because I wanted to hear the audio version. Not having read any of the Jackson Braun books for some time I found this one to be a collection of thoughts and ideas not really pursued. The end left me puzzled and feeling as if a CD had been left out of the case. I didn't enjoy the narrator much because, although his voice is attractive and he reads well, I dislike the way he reads women's voices. I refuse to believe that we are all lisping and sound like effeminate men who are putting it on. Despite the annoying and incomplete bits, I still love KoKo and YumYum, which is why I ever read them in the first place.
carlosmock More than 1 year ago
The Cat Who Went Bananas by Lillian Jackson Braun Another book in the series "The Cat Who..." James McKintire Quilleran -- Quill -- writes the Quill Pen Column for the Paper in Pickax, a town 400 miles north of everywhere. In this edition, the town is opening a new bookstore, and Quill is tasked with writing a book on the Hibbard House, the only house that is made of wood. The book is narrated from the third person point of view. Quill's cats, Yum Yum, and Koko are part of the story. Unfortunately, NOTHING happens in the book. The characters are caricatures and I did not identify with any of them. The plot is dumb and boring. The writer repeats herself a lot, so you end up skimming trying to avoid boredom. I've read other books in the series, and they are usually a fun easy read. Don't know what happened with this one. Not recommended!
booklover3258 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was my first Braun book. I was disappointed with the story line that jumped all over the plance and the mystery that was never solved. At the end, I was so sick of reading about Squunk water and Qwilleran. The only things I liked were Koko and Yum Yum.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Owlpaw purred with excitement. "We'll be taking a tour of the territory first." She mewed. Owlpaw nodded and admired everything as she padded by. "What's that big rock?" She asked. Icecloud stopped. "That is called the Stargazing rock. Legend has it, at the full moon on a special day the silverpelt passes through you. It seems pretty cool." "Have you ever done it?" Owlpaw asked. Icecloud shook her head. "Oh no." Owlpaw nodded, a bit dissapionted. <p> Icecloud continued padding along. Owlpaw followed. A scent caught her nose. "What is that?" Icecloud stopped again. "I wondered if you would notice it. This is the Breezeclan border. The other scents you smell is Streamclan and Darkclan." Owlpaw stepped back in suprise. "I'll show you our border." They padded along until they came to the border. <p> Owlpaw stepped foward to ivestigate it when she stumbled. She felt her body hit another and went flying. She landed, dazed. She looked at who she bumped into. It was a black furred she, about Owlpaw's age, with blue eyes and smelled of rouge. Owlpaw bristled. Icecloud stepped foward. "Who are you?" The she stood up. "Oh, um, I'm Midnight. I wanted to join Lightningclan." "This is Lightningclan." Icecloud mewed. "Come, we'll take you to Rainstar. He'll know what do." <p> Owlpaw nodded and follwed her mentor beside Midnight. Midnight flashed her a smile. Owlpaw briefly smiled back. When they got there, Shadowpaw was sitting alone. Owlpaw immediently went over to talk to him. "Hi." Shadowpaw looked up, suprised he had been addresed. "Um high." Owlpaw sat next to him. "What's up? Why aren't you with Dawnfeather?" Shadowpaw sighed. "That's just it. Dawnfeather busted her head and can't continue training me." <p> (Again, sorry it was short. Hope you guys enjoyed!)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A lot more "touchy - feelly " and less crime solving than previous books in the series.
terpOK More than 1 year ago
Something has changed. I don't know who really wrote this but it doesn't match Ms Braun's writing. It has no depth, no interesting occurrences. It falls flat, having read the next 2 books be prepared to be disappointed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book was ok. It really wasent that mysterious! Somebody was killed but they never mentioned it after that! Then i book was stolen but they never mentioned that again till the end! There was alot of loose ends and not much of a mystery!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I highly recommend this series of books if you want delightful enjoyable reading that keeps you coming back for more. Each book in the series is so different and you do not want to put it down when you start reading it.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'd heard much about the Cat Who series from feline-fancying family members and decided to give it a try. I either picked the wrong book or my family highly exaggerated. This was no mystery. It wasn't even a cat story. It was just a bunch of small-town nannering, innuendo and gossip. I kept reading because I kept thinking it would get better, somehow live up to the expectations. But it never did. The whole book stayed in neutral. Quite disappointing at best.
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DickensGirl More than 1 year ago
In "The Cat Who went Bananas," Lillian Jackson Braun struggles for a plot. The mystery in the book is never resolved, in fact, I never even completely figured out what the mystery was. As the story progresses, Polly and Quill grow distant, and then bring it back together yet again. This book was a disappointment compared to Braun's other works.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was so poorly written...what a disappointment! I hate stopping a book when I'm only halfway done, but I couldn't even bring myself to finish this book. The writing was poor, character development was crummy...the list goes on. Not up to par with other Cat Who novels that I've read.
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Sweet-Tangerine More than 1 year ago
In this latest from Lilian, we find Pickax in the midst of their opening of the theatrical production, the town is celebrating the opening of the new bookstore that is replacing the old one. Polly is the new owner and this causes a rift in Qwill's and Polly's relationship. There is much ado about the new marmalade cat, Dundee, that is the bookstore's new mascot. Koko keeps flipping banana peels to the floor, Qwill is frustrated about this monstrosity of an old wooden mansion on top of a hill, but is bewitched by the owner of the mansion and has help with getting stories to write on about this mansion. With the weather turning colder and the high cost of heating his 4 story (40 ft. ceilings) apple barn, Qwill makes plans to move to his condo next to Polly and other friends for the winter. He is suscpicious of the mysterious death of an actor in the play and some other unexplained deaths in Lockmaster. I thoroughly enjoyed this offering and highly recommend this one. It's much better than the two previous I just read. And, if you're wondering how many Cat Who books there are, there are two more with a new one on its way next month.