Monday, April 6, 2020

Rest in Pieces: Rita Mae Brown

This is the 2nd book in the Mrs. Murphy series. With a cat (Mrs. Murphy) and a dog (Tucker) as important characters (in addition to the humans), this was not my usual type of mystery, but I enjoyed it. I had read the first book in the series years ago, and only decided to give this book a try because it is set in Virginia and I could use it for my USA States challenge. It does give a good picture of rural Virginia, with farm life, horses, and hunting.

Mary Minor Haristeen (nicknamed "Harry") is the postmistress of the small town of Crozet, Virginia. She owns a farm, with horses, and has a grey tiger cat and a Welsh Corgi. Many of the residents of Crozet and the surrounding area are odd and quirky to say the least. In Crozet, everyone knows everyone and there is a lot of gossip.

There is a newcomer, Blair Bainbridge, a male model from Manhattan who has just purchased the farm next to Harry's. He and Harry become friends and she gives him advice on setting up his farm. Parts of a dismembered corpse show up near to their properties.

The animals have an important role in the story. They do not detect, but they do try to attract Harry's attention to clues, etc. They interact with other animals: Simon, the opossum; a barn owl; and Pewter, a neighbor's cat. Initially I found their conversations silly and distracting, but as I got used to the idea, sometimes their conversations sounded much more intelligent that the humans.

This could be described as a cozy mystery, but there is a good bit of profanity, which I thought was frowned on in cozies. That did not bother me, but just like to mention that for other readers. The Cozy Mystery site describes the series as "Deep South Cozy with talking pets." There is plenty of cursing in the Deep South, for sure.

I thought the mystery plot was pretty good, but it meandered because there were so many subplots. There did not seem to be a sleuth, although everyone wanted to know the identity of the dead body. Until much later, when an identifiable body shows up, and the action speeds up. I was very surprised by the ending, and I like it when that happens. I liked the humor in the writing, and the lovely drawings by Wendy Wray are a bonus.

If you like seasonal reads, this story starts in October and ends around Christmas. It could be read for either autumn, Halloween, or Christmas.


Publisher:  Bantam, 1993. Orig. pub. 1992.
Length:     347 pages
Format:     Paperback
Series:      Mrs. Murphy Mystery, #11
Setting:     Virginia
Genre:       Mystery
Source:     On my TBR pile for a long time.


Rick Robinson said...

I’m sure the opossum did it.

Rick Robinson said...

I read a couple of her early mysteries with Sneaky Pie as an active character, and they were ok.

TracyK said...

Rick, I have to admit that the opossum as a character surprised me. I like these books and I will read the next one some time because I have it. And see what I think after that.

Cath said...

I really love the sound of this and as it's Virginia I shall look into it. I love a bit of quirkiness.

Neeru said...

Don't think it is for me, Tracy.

TracyK said...

Cath, I think it is a good depiction of parts of Virginia, although that is a state I have never visited. And it has humor, which is good.

Margot Kinberg said...

I'm glad you found things to like about this one, Tracy. It's got some interesting character development as the series goes on, although I think you're right about the plots. I've always thought it had a solid sense of place and local culture, though, and I do like the wit.

TracyK said...

Neeru, I understand. I have a few other series to try that feature animals and not sure what they will be like either.

TracyK said...

Margot, I agree. The strong points of this book make up for its deficits. And sometimes I need a lighter read.

Clothes in Books said...

I love the picture, but that's probably the only thing attracting me! I read something else by her and wasn't taken with the style, and the animals....Hmmm. Plenty of other books out there.

TracyK said...

Moira, I know, this is not the type of book for everyone. I will read the third one, which I already have, and see if I want to continue.

col2910 said...

Hmm, I may be forced to come back to this if I'm struggling to find my own Virginia book. Hopefully not!

TracyK said...

Col, I do hope you can find a book that you like set in Virginia. But I will admit I have not run into any.