Old Friends: The Cozy Mysteries of Lillian Jackson Braun

Keeping a book series from getting stale has to be a major challenge for writers. The main characters need to have life struggles, ups and downs, learn and grow. After all, we keep picking up the next book because we care about those fictional folks. When a character gets stuck in a relationship, for example, that is leading nowhere book after book, I’m like, “Marry her already!” Or if we only know “just the facts” of the case, but we know nothing of the person behind the actions, it gets boring.

Bringing in new and interesting, even quirky supporting characters is a way to mix it up and give the reader another reason to keep going. (Jan Karon was particularly adept at this in her Mitford series.) Another way to make it exciting is to have a major event occur that will affect everyone in the story, a hurricane or a mega snowstorm that ushers in an opportunity for a crime to be committed.

A less dramatic but effective tool is to introduce a plot point or scenario that the reader can learn about or identify with. Antiques, gourmet cheeses, steam locomotives – these were some of the devices used so well by the late Lillian Jackson Braun in her “The Cat Who…” series.

We were introduced to Koko the brilliant Siamese cat in 1966 in THE CAT WHO COULD READ BACKWARDS. The story revolved around the world of modern art. Forty-one years and 29 books later, we said goodbye to Koko, his furry friend Yum Yum, Qwilleran, and the town of Pickax in Braun’s last book, THE CAT WHO HAD 60 WHISKERS, published in 2007.

Lillian Jackson Braun passed away June 4, 2011, leaving a legacy of clean, wholesome cozy mysteries that still have the power to entertain us in this age of digital overload.

Check out our selection of mysteries, cozy and otherwise, at Hole in the Wall Books!

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