Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Puss 'n Cahoots

by Rita Mae Brown and Sneaky Pie Brown

The latest in Brown's Mrs. Murphy mystery series (say that five times fast) takes places a state away from the usual turf of Crozet, Virginia, in the bluegrass pastures of Kentucky. There, Harry and once-again-husband Fair are attending a saddlebred horse show and visiting with hometown friends. With them are the furry family members: Mrs. Murphy, Tee Tucker, and Pewter. As often happens around Harry, murder is also on the agenda, as is her newly remarried state and upcoming 40th birthday. Intertwined with the murder plot are a stolen horse and reflections on illegal immigration and the fate of the “country” way of life. Brown is best, though, when she leaves the polemics out and focuses on the mystery and the lives of her protagonists. Though the book here met all my Mrs. Murphy needs, I missed the usual Crozet crew, from Susan and Miranda to the Reverend and sheriff Rick. After how many years and how many books, it felt like infidelity to read about another set of characters. That relationship just wasn't there, one failing of this book.

The longevity of the series does raise an awkward question: The first book in the series was published around 1990. What happens when our four-legged sleuths start dying off? Or, will these characters be like those in other long-term series, in which the characters (at least some, since much was made in this book over Harry's upcoming 40th) never age? -Inanna

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