Whisker of Evil (Mrs. Murphy) Mass Market Paperback – 28 Feb 2005
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From the Inside Flap
A mysterious death in a Virginia farm town has the locals scratching their heads--while frisky feline Mrs. Murphy and her friends, fat-cat Pewter and corgi Tee Tucker, uncover clues as they curl their way around a cold-blooded killer.
This balmy summer in Crozet, Virginia, postmistress Mary Minor "Harry" Haristeen has a lot to think about. Things have been pretty cozy between her and her ex-husband, Fair and her beloved old post office is in danger of being replaced with a modern building--and modern rules. Harry's thoughtful contemplation is shattered the day she stumbles over a dead body near Potlicker Creek. Barry Monteith, the handsome local horse breeder, has been savagely murdered. A true ladies' man, Barry was known to have left a string of broken hearts behind him. But could a spurned lover be responsible for his untimely demise?
The plot only thickens when an autopsy reveals that Barry was infected with rabies weeks before he was killed. As usual, Harry can't resist doing a little digging--with Mrs. Murphy close by to warn of approaching danger. Harry makes a remarkable discovery in the creek--the class ring of Mary Pat Reines, a local woman who disappeared thirty years earlier along with her prized Thoroughbred stallion. Like Barry, Mary Pat was a successful horse breeder--and now all of Crozet is wondering if the two cases are linked. As the police struggle with the evidence, the pressure gets hotter than a June afternoon--especially when another person is found dead of less-than-natural causes. As usual, Mrs. Murphy and her crew are the first to sniff out the truth.
But if they don't find a way to help Harry piece together the puzzle, she could become thekiller's next target--and even Mrs. Murphy's slinkiest moves won't be able to save her.
"From the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
Rita Mae Brownis the bestselling author of the Sneaky Pie Brown series; the Sister Jane series;"A Nose for Justice"and"Murder Unleashed; Rubyfruit Jungle; In Her Day;"and"Six of One, "as well as several other novels. An Emmy-nominated screenwriter and a poet, Brown lives in Afton, Virginia.
Sneaky Pie Brown, a tiger cat born somewhere in Albemarle County, Virginia, was discovered by Rita Mae Brown at her local SPCA. They have collaborated on numerous Mrs. Murphy mysteries in addition to"Sneaky Pie s Cookbook for Mystery Lovers"and"Sneaky Pie for President.""
Top Customer Reviews
The bottom line is Mrs Murphy is the best felinesleuth around, and although the formula is beginning to feel a littlejaded (this is number 12 after all), this new instalment of life in Crozetis as delightful as the rest.
Like all books in the series, WHISKER OF EVIL returns us to the host of small-town characters of which we've grown so fond. Postmistress Mary "Harry" Harristein reigns supreme over the tiny town's equally tiny post office, surrounded by an amusing assortment of friends and acquaintances--not the least of which are her two cats, Mrs. Murphy and Pewter, and her dog, Tucker. And when Harry stumbles over a dying man while walking along Potlicker Creek, her animals are as curious about the situation as she.
Brown has never really bothered to construct a tightly designed plot for any of the Mrs. Murphy novels, and while the motive and means for murder prove particularly ingenious in this novel the story itself is loose even in comparison to previous titles in the series. Still, it's all in good fun, and longtime fans of the series will be greatly interested to note that with WHISKER OF EVIL Brown begins to alter the course of her characters' lives with a host of changes that come for both good and ill. Recommended for a rainy day!
GFT, Amazon Reviewer
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The chief strength I find is that Brown succeeds in satirizing the "cozy" mystery genre at the same time she pays homage to it. She has created some genial though not uncomplicated regular characters and a world that she does not puncture even when shaking things up, which she does considerably this time around. She is realistic (well, as realistic as you get when animals have their own lines of dialogue). What began in her first books as a speck on a rural map of Virginia, the town of Crozet in Albemarle County, has become urbanized rural. Government regulations plague postmistress/heroine Mary ("Harry") Hairsteen. You can see the whole South grappling with its past, present and future through this series. In deceptively simple prose, she conveys a strong sense of how time and the world catch up with the individual.
The mystery itself is predictable. But who really reads or even writes "cozies" as brainteasers? Brown is having a lot of fun. She exercises a lot of knowledge about horse culture and airs her views on growth, government, taxes, ageing, and humanity, not to mention tourists who visit the real town of Crozet and don't find it as cute as they think a setting in a "cozy" should be.
This mystery concerns the death of Barry Monteith, a local horse breeder. Even more mysterious is that fact that Barry, although viciously murdered, was also infected with rabies. Harry soon finds the class ring of Mary Pat Reines, a local horsebreeder who disappeared in 1967 with her prize stallion. Two more deaths soon follow, and the entire close-knit town is shaken, trying to discover the murderer and the source of Barry's rabies.
The only flaw with this book, and the reason I didn't give it 5 stars, is the author's fascination with horses. An excellent horsewoman (horseperson?) herself, she includes quite a bit of breeding information in the novel, which is interesting until she goes on for several pages about it. You can't skip it, though--there are clues enclosed in it. Fans of the series will do fairly well with the information, as Brown has given us a great deal about horses in all of her books, but it does drag after a while.
This book is very integral to the series, and many events that affect the entire series take place in it. For this reason, I don't recommend it to new readers. Pick up "Wish You Were Here" or "Rest in Pieces," the first two books in the series. Not only will you get the horse information, but you'll be better introduced to the marvelous cast of characters. Brown always includes a cast of characters in her novels--one that encompasses both animals and people--but you'll love getting the history of the characters!
Bottom Line: An excellent cozy for small-town people, cat-lovers, horse-lovers, anyone! Series-altering events take place in it, though, so it's not recommended for first-time readers. Other than that, enjoy the wonderful 3-dimensional characters and excellent plot!
Mary Minor "Harry" Harristeen and her fellow animal companions have another mystery up their sleeves. A local horsebreeder has been murder. The catch is that this man also had rabies. Soon, Harry is following a trail of clues and reopened the disappearance of a horse breeder from 30 years ago. She feels that the 2 cases may be connected.
At the same time, Harry's post office will be moved into a new building with new rules, prohibiting her cats and dog from helping her with her job.
This book has many unsuspecting twists. I highly recommend it to any mystery or animal lovers.
If you like Christian mystery fluff, have at. Enjoy. Personnally, I am going now to finish the last three chapters in hopes that at the end, one cat will turn to the other and say "Man, these people are full of crap."
I won't summarize the plot, as that is the job of the book jacket, and many of the other reviewers have done an excellent job of that already.
I do really enjoy learning about something besides forensics (although those are pretty fascinating too), during the course of a mystery...for instance, I had no IDEA that fox hunting was such a complicated sport, I thought you just got on the horse, used good manners in the field, and chased the critter. Typical nawthenah...
The beauty, grace, complexity and depth of Southern culture is presented here in Ms. Brown's Crozet series and while of COURSE it is seen as superior to that of the Northerners and Westerners, she does not rub your face in it to the point where you just dismiss Crozetians as small-town Southern Snobs.
When having animals use human speech to communicate between species, it is difficult not to fall into either omniscience or over-cuteness, and both the Brown ladies seem to negotiate this fence line fairly well. What I have trouble with are the little errors... for instance, what sex IS Harry's horse Gin Fizz? In one book, she is a mare, in another he is a gelding, and in this book, s/he is both. Now THERE is a mystery if you like....
Also, Harry, who is by her own admission emotionally inhibited, is very much out of character with her accusation "You did it!" directed at the murderer during the burial. This may be sort of rationalized by the preceeding events just sort of blowing the cork out of the bottle, but it is not in character for Harry, who usually does think things through...and THEN she goes ahead and does something risky.
All in all, this was an improvement over the last two of the series, as things are MOVING again. I am looking forward to the next one...and must admit I AM curious as to what kind of foal Boom-Boom's mare will drop.