I'm unexpectedly really enjoying this mystery find. The detective is a stereotypical divorced ex crime reporter forced to accept a job as the editor of a weekly magazine on interior decorating for his newspaper. Typical fish out of water antics ensue. His sidekick is an extremely intelligent Siamese cat named Koko. What elevates the story are the delicious insinuations and subversions Lillian Jackson Braun has baked into the narrative. Written in 1967, she manages to quietly question gender roles and society norms while telling a captivating tale.
"Decorating is not really my business," said the girl crisply.
"Architecture is my field, but girl architects are not largely in demand. I took this job with Mrs. Middy in desperation, and I'm afraid these imitation worm-eaten hutches and folksy-hoaxy mammy settles are warping my personality. I prefer design that reflects the spirit of our times. Down with French Empire, Portuguese Colonial and Swahili Baroque!"
"You mean you like modern design?"
"I don't like to use the word," said Miss Wright."It's so ambiguous. There's Motel Modern, Miami Beach Modern, Borax Danish, and a lot of horrid mutations. I prefer the twentieth-century classics--the work of Saarinen, Mies van der Rohe, Breuer, and all that crowd. Mrs. Middy doesn't let me meet clients; she's afraid I'll sabotage her work
...And I believe I would," she added with a feline smile. "I have a sneaky nature."
This is Book II in Lillian Jackson Braun's The Cat Who...
series. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lilian_Jackson_Braun https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Cat_Who...