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Drought is tormenting Moose County, whose residents are praying for snowfall before wildfires threaten historic mining structures and the town of Pickax itself. With a murderous arsonist loose, there's plenty to keep the whiskers of both Jim Qwilleran and his psychic Siamese cat, Koko, twitching. This 23rd installment in the "Cat Who" mystery series is thin on plot but as strong as ever on character development, which is fine since one of the chief delights of these books is what they reveal about Qwilleran and Moose County. This volume, for example, tells us that Qwilleran is a lyricist who secretly turns out catchy tunes that get Pickaxians tapping their toes. On the other hand, perhaps it's time to acknowledge that Pickax, despite its remoteness, is a dangerous place. With its minuscule population, the two or three murders that Braun chronicles there each year must give it a per capita homicide rate similar to Detroit's. But these tapes are still great fun, especially when narrated by the masterful George Guidall. Recommended. Kent Rasmussen, Thousand Oaks, CA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.