I was going to limit this discussion to Feline Detective novels because there are several very popular series featuring cats, but I am also a major science fiction and fantasy fan, and one of the most charming books in my collection is Uhura's Song, a "Trek" spin-off by the late Janet Kagan about a race of human-sized cats with their own sophisticated culture and technology.
Thee three cat-detective series that I can think of right now are:
1. "The Cat Who..." series by Lilian Jackson Braun. In the first book, The Cat Who Could Read Backwards, Newspaperman James Qwilleran "inherits" a Siamese cat named Kao Ko Kung, or Koko who apparently has some for of ESP, and points Qwilleran to the killer of Koko's former human.
2. The Mrs. Murphy series by Rita Mae and Sneaky Pie Brown. (I suspect that the current "author" is Sneaky Pie #2 since the original one was adopted as a kitten in 1984) In this series all the animals communicate with each other, but not with humans; they are often frustrated by this inability, and also with humans' poor senses of smell and hearing. They actively snoop, share information with each other, and try to get the main human, Mary Minor Haristeen (usually called "Harry" because as a child she spent so much time with her cats, dogs, and horses, that sshe was usually covered with animal hair), to find out "whodunit" without getting herself killed. The "Top Cat" is Mrs. Murphy. The first book is titled "Wish You Were Here" because the murder victim receives a postcard with a picture of a famous graveyard or a tomb, with "Wish you were here" written on the back, before the actual murder is committed. More recent books in the series have semi-cute titles that have nothing to do with the plots.
3 The "Joe Grey" Mysteries by Shirley Rousseau Murphy. Some of the cats in these stories can talk, read, and use telephones. The author has based their talent on Celtic myths about shape-changers and other fantasies. Joe Grey is a smart-mouthed tomcat who lives with a bachelor and his other (non-speaking) dogs and cats in a town that sounds very much like Carmel, California. He doesn't know why or how he suddenly became able to speak after he grew up, but he makes the most of it.
All of these series are entertaining, and that's the main reason I read anything...for fun.
And now I want to go outside and watch the eclipse! (With a makeshift pinhole camera.)
Apologies for the typos...I rushed myself because the eclipse was starting, and didn't check my spelling.
(I can't even blame it on Pumpkin this time, he's asleep on the back of the recliner.)
I blame astronomy!
I think the most recent 5 or 6 of the "Cat Who" novels are not too good. Ms. Braun was in her late 80s or early 90s by then, and may have been a tad senile...and somebody else may have been writing the books from her outlines, or ghosting them completely. (She died in a nursing home a year or two ago.)
The earliest books are really the best; in the beginning Qwilleran lives in a large city and works for one of the two daily newspapers. The situations are more interesting, and there are more characters for her to write about. Later on he moves to a small town "90 miles north of everywhere," and some of the muder victims in the later books were characters that I really liked a lot. I found myself moaning, "Ohhhh, nohhhh!"
There is also a very good Cat Who Cookbook, written by somebody else, a couple of fans. (Of course, I have it! I collect cookbooks, too, though I rarely use them. I just like to read them.)
AND we have a Sneaky Pie Brown Cookbook,too, even though Rita Mae Brown says she can barely make breakfast for herself. That one has a couple of recipes for doggie treats.
One of the regular characters in the series is an adorable and brave little corgi named Tee Tucker (the cats call her "Bubble-Butt"). I've never had a dog, but I worked part time as a dog-and-cat-sitter for about 30 years. I think if I were ever to have a dog, I'd get a Pembroke [tailless] corgi. They fascinate me...very intelligent herding dogs.
PS: the eclipse was fun...we weren't in the path of totality, but we saw about 90% of it...using binocs and a piece of cardboard. The early "twilight" was kinda spooky. Everybody in the neighborhood was out in their yards with different kinds of "safe" viewing devices. My sister used to actually have a pair of welder's goggles, but she doesn't know what she did with them.
I need to email my cousin in Winslow...they were in the path of totality. For all I know, they may have driven up to the Grand Canyon to get the full effect. I also need to make a trip there soon...my aunt (Mother's remaining sister) will be 90 in July, and I love her SO much! I need to see her and hug her, and all that stuff. She was my first baby-sitter; she was only 17 when I was born.
Only one book stands out in my mind; a young person's chapter book called Captains of the City Streets by Esther Averill. It was in a box of library discards my dad brought home from work when I was 11 or so. I never read any of the other Jenny's Cat Club books, but this one I would recommend to anyone who enjoys adventure stories for younger readers.
I read one of the "Cat Who..." books. IIt was decently enough written, but something about the style was so quaint that I just didn't want to go further. I'll try one of the Rita Mae Brown books and see how that does. Thanks for posting this.
As I said, her most recent books are pretty bad; I don't know why the publisher didn't send them back for rewrites or something. Well, yes I do know: MONEY. The books became such big sellers that they probably could have published her grocery lists and made a profit.
She wrote the first three books in the late 1960s, (then took a 20-year hiatus for some reason). They are still the best of the 29 novels in the series. Try one of those. My favorite is the 2nd book, The Cat Who Ate Danish Modern. Koko starts doing a very "cat" thing, licking anything made of wool, and producing colorful hairballs. But that's not the main plot...it just gets Qwilleran to take him to a vet, and that gets him involved with some odd characters. A murder. And another Siamese cat.
Sort of the same thing with the Rita Mae Brown books...the early ones are the best. There is one character who quotes the buybull at the drop of a cliche' but she's a nice lady, otherwise, so I tolerate her.
You might also enjoy
Patricia Highsmith's The animal-lover's book of beastly murder
Peter S. Beagle's Tamsin
Heinlein's The cat who walks through walls
I have copies of ALL Heinlein's books...I loved him and his wife nearly as much as I loved my own parents. I have problems reading the last scene in The Cat Who Walks Through Walls...I cry. I have some Polaroids (if they haven't faded to fog) of the original Pixel that Ginny sent me, so he was very real to me.
The only book by Beagle that I've read was the unicorn one...a long time ago; I'll have to look up Tamsin.
Patricia Highsmith's name is very familiar, but I haven't read anything by her. Yet.
(I'm making lists...)
Crazy! Mind if I ask how you knew them?
I sent him a fan letter via his publisher in the early 1970s, and he answered it! Personally!
At the time, I didn't know much about fandom, I just wanted to tell him how much I love (still do) The Door Into Summer, and Pete the cat who is a major character in the story. I also told him quite a bit about one of my cats who woke me up a couple of minutes before the 1971 Sylmar quake, and how he slowly went out of his little feline mind over the next 4 or 5 months when we kept having major aftershocks.
I also told him a bit about my love of skating and my 3-year "career" as a line skater in Holiday On Ice. And I sent him a photo of myself in costume....taken on my 19th birthday.
What I did NOT do was ask him a lot of stupid fannish questions about his personal life and stuff.
He actually gave me their home address, and said that if I was ever up that way, to call them, and if he had time, I would be welcome to stop by for a cuppa tea and some conversation. I damn near passed out when I read that!
I never actually met them, but Ginny and I corresponded sporadically about cats and skating until just a few months before she died. We both hated what has become of competitive skating...it's a jumping contest instead of the graceful art it used to be.
It was an enormous privilege to be a tiny part of their lives.