|Rita Mae Brown and Sneaky Pie Brown: Whisker of Evil|
Bantam Dell (Hardcover), ISBN 0553801619
Sneaky Pie Brown, what a talented and prolific cat! Now releasing number 12 in its mystery series, this feline and co-author consistently ranks on the New York Times bestseller list. The popularity of the series proves that we are a world of mystery and cat sleuth lovers.
Whisker of Evil, one of the better entries in the Mrs. Murphy series, continues to serve as a forum for its human author's pet topics (pardon the pun). Perhaps I no longer mind the proselytizing, or possibly this book benefits from a lighter touch, or this plot and mystery contains more meat, maybe all three. But the frequent scripture quotes; the discussion of lesbianism; the hammering about animal care, inoculations and rabies ad infinitum; plus the over-arching theme of "change" enhances rather than detracts from this book's entertainment value.
Mary Minor "Harry" Hairsteen, postmistress of Crozet, Virginia, "mother" of intrepid corgi Tee Tucker, tiger cat Mrs. Murphy and gray fat cat Pewter, finds a neighbor and friend, Barry Monteith, dying. The horse breeder apparently fell victim of a wild animal that ripped out his throat. Further tests reveal Barry also suffered from rabies. While searching for clues near the body, Harry finds a class ring that belonged to Mary Pat, a local horse-breeder who disappeared with her prize stallion in 1974, making all wonder if Barry's death somehow connects to this missing person.
Fearing a rabies outbreak, the power drunk animal-control officer begins tracking down inoculation records for every pet and farm animal and asserts his authority to force Harry to stop bringing her pets to work at the post office. The local veterinarians attempt to contain the rising hysteria before people kill each other's pets, mistaking a lolling tongue for foaming at the mouth.
Events escalate. Harry looks for clues to solve the murders, and searches to understand the changes taking place. She can't quite see what lies around the bend in her life's journey.
The authors provide a comprehensive examination of thoroughbred horse breeding in addition to a compelling whodunnit. The series benefits from a delightful sense of community that swirls around Harry, both human and non-human. I particularly enjoy the communication between cats, birds, foxes, dogs, opossum, horses and mice.
Brown smoothly weaves the various issues and conflicts together throughout the mystery. In addition, several series regulars undergo major changes, which leave a certain number of plot threads hanging at the end of the book. Many questions await answers in the next book of the series.
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