The Hounds and the Fury (Sister Jane Foxhunting Series #5)

( 20 )

Overview

Critics and fans alike are wild about Rita Mae Brown’s richly imagined and utterly engaging foxhunting mysteries–and this latest novel promises more thrilling hunts, breathtaking vistas, and an all-new sinister scandal.

Millions of dollars seem to be missing after a long-overdue audit of the local aluminum plant reveals a major accounting discrepancy. Company president Garvey Stokes finds himself at a loss–in more ways than one. He turns to his sharp-tongued, ornery bookkeeper, ...

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The Hounds and the Fury (Sister Jane Foxhunting Series #5)

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Overview

Critics and fans alike are wild about Rita Mae Brown’s richly imagined and utterly engaging foxhunting mysteries–and this latest novel promises more thrilling hunts, breathtaking vistas, and an all-new sinister scandal.

Millions of dollars seem to be missing after a long-overdue audit of the local aluminum plant reveals a major accounting discrepancy. Company president Garvey Stokes finds himself at a loss–in more ways than one. He turns to his sharp-tongued, ornery bookkeeper, Iphigenia “Iffy” Demetrios, for an explanation, but she’s no help. Yet when the fuzzy math suddenly includes a body count, the figures can no longer be ignored.

While the town sheriff tries to get to the bottom of the matter, leave it to “Sister” Jane Arnold, venerable master of the Jefferson Hunt Club, to rely on her keen horse-and-hound sense to follow the trail of murder and cover-up. Throwing her off the scent, however, is former hunt club donor and all-around cad Crawford Howard, who thinks he can go toe-to-toe with the beloved septuagenarian and outclass her club by grossly sidestepping hound- and-hunt etiquette. Against the backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains, a menagerie of friends, foes, and fresh new faces saddle up for the breakneck ride to unravel the conspiracy. Even the furry denizens in the fields and boroughs have a thing or two to say about these peculiar humans.

Incomparable author Rita Mae Brown returns to the glorious hills of Virginia and its genteel foxhunting society, where how much money you have in the bank is not nearly as important as how long your family has lived on the land–and where nearly everyone has something to hide. As Sister muses, “The little secrets leak out. The big ones, well, some escape like evils from Pandora’s box. And others we’ll never know.”

From the Hardcover edition.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Praise for Rita Mae Brown

The Hunt Ball

“The hunt must go on, its grace and glory personified by the foxes, hounds and horses that provide these thrilling scenes with their on-the-ground perspective.”
–The New York Times Book Review

“Score another triumph for [Rita Mae] Brown–and for ‘Sister,’ who helps run another two-legged predator to ground.”
–Richmond Times-Dispatch

Full Cry

“A great ride with heroine ‘Sister’ Jane Arnold.”
–Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“A quality tale that is over all too soon.”
–Charleston Post and Courier

Hotspur

“Dashing and vibrant . . . The reader will romp through the book like a hunter on a thoroughbred, never stopping for a meal or a night’s sleep.”
–Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Brown combines her strengths–exploring southern families, manners, and rituals as well as the human-animal bond–to bring in a winner.”
–Booklist

Outfoxed

“A rich, atmospheric murder mystery . . . rife with love, scandal, anger, transgression, redemption, greed, and nobility, all of which make good reading.”
–San Jose Mercury News

“Compelling . . . engaging . . . [a] sly whodunit [with] a surprise finish.”
–People

From the Hardcover edition.

Publishers Weekly
In bestseller Brown's diverting fifth foxhunting mystery (after 2005's The Hunt Ball), "Sister" Jane Arnold, the 73-year-old master of foxhounds at central Virginia's Jefferson Hunt Club, and a host of anthropomorphized dogs, horses, foxes and birds have their work cut out for them. As Sister prepares for the winter hunt, arrogant arriviste Crawford Howard acquires an "outlaw" pack of hounds and proceeds to set up a rival event on land long used by the Jefferson Hunt, a plan that threatens to tear the community apart. "People are like teabags. You never know how strong they are until you put them in hot water," notes Sister, who with her usual panache sorts out a murder, an attempted murder, an insurance scam and a huge sum of money gone missing from a local company. Cozy fans and animal lovers will be charmed, but the general reader may lose patience with the talking critters. (Oct.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
MThe fifth entry in Brown's fox-hunting series (after The Hunt Ball) focuses more on her anthropomorphic hounds than previous books. The hounds know where the dead body is buried, yet it's up to the humans, especially Sister Jane Arnold, to catch the killer. The reader knows quite soon who the bad guys are, and the book's finale is no big surprise. Sister, the 72-year-old master of the hunt, is a little too much to be believed (physically very fit, sexy, excellent equestrienne, and detective to boot). However, any reader curious about fox-hunting culture will enjoy this book as Brown, herself a master of the hunt, goes into great detail on what makes a good hound and a good huntsman. Recommended for medium to large public libraries and where Brown's other mysteries are popular. Brown lives in Alston, VA. Patsy E. Gray, Huntsville P.L., Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The quarry is human when a murderer joins the foxhunt. Jane Arnold, aka Sister, is master of foxhounds at the Jefferson Hunt Club. At 73, she's tough as nails and clever as a fox. A student of nature, she takes great pleasure in her beloved Virginia countryside and her friends both human and animal. But she doesn't cotton to two newer members of the hunt: wealthy Crawford Howard, who buys his own pack when he doesn't advance quickly enough at JHC, and talented but arrogant Jason Woods, a cancer specialist who wants to be a whipper-in. When Sister's longtime companion Gray Lorillard takes on the job of auditing the books of a local firm, he discovers that cancer survivor Iffy (nee Iphigenia) Demetrios has been siphoning off money for years. Soon after Iffy is found murdered, someone shoots Gray's brother. Is it a case of mistaken identity? Jane uses her finely attuned sense of people and animals to answer the question. As fast-paced as the foxhunts Brown clearly loves, with Sister an older version of Harry Haristeen in the popular Mrs. Murphy series (Sour Puss, March 2006, etc.). Though the villain's not hard to find, Brown makes the hunt enjoyable.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345465481
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 9/25/2007
  • Series: Sister Jane Foxhunting Series , #5
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 433,929
  • Product dimensions: 5.19 (w) x 8.01 (h) x 0.77 (d)

Meet the Author

Rita Mae Brown is the bestselling author of these other foxhunting novels: Outfoxed, Hotspur, Full Cry, and The Hunt Ball, and the New York Times bestselling Sneaky Pie Brown mystery series, as well as Rubyfruit Jungle, In Her Day, and Six of One (among many other novels). An Emmy-nominated screenwriter and a poet, she lives in Afton, Virginia, where she is also master of Foxhounds of Oak Ridge Hunt Club.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

Silvered with frost, the geometric patterns on the kennel windowpane displayed Nature’s gift for design. Sister Jane Arnold stared at the tiny, perfect crystals, then turned back to the large old oak desk in the middle of the office. In warmer weather the back door of the office would be open to the center aisle in this, the main kennel. She found it comforting to inhale the odor of her hounds, to hear them breathing as they slept on their raised beds. Today, Boxing Day, December 26, Monday, the mercury clung to twenty-eight degrees Fahrenheit. The office felt warm at sixty-eight degrees, and she gave a small prayer of thanks that she’d found the money to put in a new heat pump and venting for the main building. The hounds, nestled in their straw-filled beds, threw off body heat, so the thermostat in their portion of the building was kept at forty-two degrees. The actual temperature hovered near fifty. The two medical rooms were warmer. Fortunately, no one was in sick bay.

Christmas culminated in such frenzy that Sister wished Joseph and Mary had been sterile. Sister found Boxing Day one of the happiest days of the year. In England, thousands would turn out in the villages and along country roads to witness hundreds of vigorous folk riding to hounds. The ban on foxhunting, voted by Parliament in 2004 and coming into force February 2005, was a sorry work of class hatred. The first Boxing Day after the ban was 2005, and British foxhunters rode out to a man. Local authorities declined to arrest these men and women. Constables knew that foxhunting benefited the livelihoods of their communities. The bizarre aspect of the foxhunting ban was that not even the most fervid Labor Party members pretended they wished to save foxes. It was perfectly fine with them if the farmers shot the beautiful creatures. The whole point of the ban was to punish those suspected of wealth or title from enjoying themselves. The fact that most English foxhunters were middle-class people was lost in this revenge on the wealthy few. As the Labor Party had created seven hundred new criminal offenses under Tony Blair’s leadership, the fact that noncountry people tolerated these infringements on their rights shocked Sister.

She wondered whether Americans, no longer conversant with country life—and worse, feeling superior to it—could become as illiberal as the Laborites. The political push to ban foxhunting in America would start on one of the coasts, but Sister believed it wouldn’t succeed. Americans still retained vestiges of common sense. Better yet, Americans did not hunt to kill the fox. They were content to chase the highly intelligent creature until he finally eluded them—easy enough for the fox.

Sister’s study chair had rollers on it, and in a burst of enthusiasm she propelled herself around the room and spun backwards.

Shaker Crown, the huntsman, opened the front door at this moment. “Someone’s happy.”

“Three hundred and sixty-four days until next Christmas. Thank you, Jesus.” She braked, putting both feet on the ground.

“Amen, Sister.”

They burst out laughing.

“Hounds had a wonderful Christmas. Nothing like warm stew. I remember watching my father cook it up outside. The pot was large enough to hold three missionaries.”

He smiled. “Horses liked their treats, too, as did I. Thank you for my Dehner boots and my bug guard.”

“Do you think they really work?”

“Bug guards?” He paused. “Not now.”

“I deserved that.” She rolled her eyes at his droll remark. They wouldn’t work now because it was winter, hence no insects were flying around outside.

“Sure they work. That curve at the top sends the bugs away from the windshield.”

“Maybe I should get one for my GMC. You know, I’m still getting used to it. Drove the other one 287,000 miles and buried it with honors.” She smiled at him. “I actually considered parking it in front of the kennel and making a huge planter out of it.”

“You cut the bed off the truck and use it for a wagon.” He pretended to think hard. “Could still fill with dirt and spring bulbs.”

“No point wasting something that can be useful. All I had to do was sand the edges so we wouldn’t cut ourselves, put a Reese hitch on it. If nothing else, we can put a big old water tank up there, and I can water my trees on the drive if another drought comes.” She crossed herself as if warding off the evil eye, for droughts caused terrible damage.

“Heard anything?” After crossing himself, Shaker changed the subject.

“Not a peep.”

He sat on the edge of the desk as she rolled back to it, replying, “He’ll be vicious.”

“Marty can’t calm him down?” Shaker named Crawford Howard’s wife.

“Crawford was publicly humiliated. Even the ministrations of his good wife won’t help. His ego is in a gaseous state, ever expanding.” Sister threw up her hands, exasperated.

“He deserved it, loading hounds up like that, then setting them loose during the hunt ball.”

“Of course he did! After you belted him, he knew he couldn’t stand up to you, so unleashing hounds was his revenge. And a damned sorry one. He wasn’t entirely sober, which only made matters worse. He’s lucky I only slapped him.”

“Hard. Everyone in the room heard that crack.” Shaker relished the recollection.

“Too bad I didn’t have a roll of nickels in my palm. Then I’d have broken his jaw. Now, that’s a happy thought, Crawford Howard with his jaw wired shut.”

“Strange we haven’t heard anything. Betty hasn’t, either. I called her.”

“You surprise me.” Sister didn’t expect him to call Betty Franklin, one of her best friends, an honorary whipper-in.

He folded his arms across his chest. “I didn’t get us in this mess, but I made it worse.”

“When a man pulls down your fiancée’s evening gown, even if he was pushed and tripped, most of us can understand the response.”

“Poor Lorraine. She’s still embarrassed.”

“Honey, any woman with that rack should never be embarrassed. Entire careers have been built on less.”

He smiled. “She’s a beautiful woman.”

“She is. You two are a good pair and a good-looking pair to boot.”

He walked over to the kennel-side door. “Sound asleep.”

“I often envy them. They are loved, have the best of care, and do what they were born to do. Think of the millions of people in this world struggling at jobs that aren’t right for them. They might be flourishing financially, but deep in their hearts, they know this isn’t what they should be doing with their lives—and, oh, Shaker, how fast the time slips away.”

“Got that right.” He returned to the desk. “Hope we can hunt tomorrow.”

“Me, too, but feel the storm coming? Truth is in the bones.”

“Seen the sky in the last hour?”

“No, I’ve been in here rooting through the old stud books.”

“Look.” He opened the front door, and they both stepped out into the biting air.

Gunmetal-gray clouds stacked up behind the Blue Ridge Mountains.

“Moving faster than the Weather Channel predicted.” She noticed the tops of trees swaying slightly. “Going to be a big one. We’d better get all the generators in place, just in case.”

“Already did. Up at your house, too.”

Relief filled her voice. “Thank you.”

“Rather deal with snow than ice.”

“Me, too.”

“Boss, you think Crawford will sue?”

“He doesn’t have much of a case. It would be a hardship on us, of course, but ultimately it would be worse for him. My hunch is he’ll forego that and do something where he can use his wealth as leverage.”

“Like withdraw his support to the club?”

“That’s a given.” She rubbed her shoulders. “It will hurt, too. His largesse covered about 25 percent of our annual budget.”

“He’ll go to Farmington Hunt or Keswick, maybe even Deep Run, and throw money at them. If he can keep his ego in check, he might even get along with most of them. What master doesn’t need money for the club?” Shaker put his arm through hers, and they stepped back into the office. Sister settled back into the warmth of the office, glad the door was closed. “Ego is the key word.”

“Hard on Sam.”

Sam Lorillard of the Lorillards, an African-American family that had been in the country since before the Revolutionary War, possessed both intellectual and athletic brilliance. Unfortunately, a tendency toward alcoholism had also passed from generation to generation among both the white and black Lorillards. Gray, Sam’s older brother and Sister’s boyfriend, had escaped it. Sam had not. He was currently sober after much suffering. Attending Alcoholics Anonymous Meetings helped.

The black Lorillards had taken the name of their owners, common enough in the Old South. Not even the pull of convention or ideology could keep the two sides of this vast family apart. A Lorillard stayed a Lorillard.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 20 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 20 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 25, 2013

    Moon

    Pancaked anyone

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2013

    Skyleaf

    "Hey Dapplesong, are you doing okay?" She asked quietly. Skyleaf

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 25, 2013

    Dapplesong

    "Willowleaf?" Dappleslng whisepred.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 25, 2013

    Willowleaf

    Willowleaf stirred in her sleep. ~Willowleaf

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2013

    Appleblaze

    I could be their fostor father.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 16, 2013

    Wishbreeze

    (Where is the lake? O.o)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2013

    Dawnshadow

    She looks around

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2013

    Maplejay

    "How about we go to the elders den then." She, turning and bounding up the tunnel without a answer.

    •Maplejay•••

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 15, 2013

    Velvetstar to Horseclan

    Also along the rock walls ther was another, smaller tree log. One side sticking out of the rocks, on the other side was a small cave. The small opening led downwards a little ways and opened into a big under ground den. Water from the pool above along with sunlight poured into the den through a wide opening in the top. The water collected in another big and calm pool were fireflies gathered at night. The whole area was covred with fine red sand, and an assortment of fresh herbs grew around the pool. -Medicine Den-

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 1, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Pretty entertaining, if you stick it out through the slow start

    I listened to 'The Hounds and the Fury' on audiobook during my daily commutes to and from work and would give it an overall rating of 3 stars. I tend to think I would have enjoyed the story more if I had read it in a paper format, as I found Rita Mae Brown to be a fairly unstimulating narrator as audiobooks go. The story started off slowly and I considered ditching it for another set of discs, but in the end I'm glad I stuck with it. I don't know anything about fox hunting, but it seems like the author is very committed to accuracy when it comes to writing about the subject, so I would guess that fans of fox hunting would find this to be an enjoyable read. I found myself a little irritated by the dialogue of the Custis Hall girls, as I think the author is slightly out of touch with teen girls and doesn't voice them very realistically. Steer clear of this one if you're not a fan of talking animals.

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  • Posted February 3, 2011

    Excellent!!!! Wonderfully entertaining!

    In keeping with Brown's knowledge of horses, hounds, and hunting, this book had its moments of hilarity, intrigue, and murder par excellence! Unlike the criticism by "Anonymous", I revelled in Brown's in-depth description of Foxhunting; perhaps this goes back to my younger days as a student when I took riding lessons and learned the fine art of tea at 2 pm and Foxhunting with the other "elegant young horsewomen". Unlike Sister, however, my age and spinal disability prevent me from continuing the love of hunting and Rohirrims Anduril, my Hanoverian, enjoys the grace of dressage.

    I can live the joy of foxhunting vicariously through Brown's avid and detailed description of a very well-loved sport. And, unlike across the Pond, we don't kill our foxes -- thankfully we don't adhere to that barbaric aspect of the tradition.

    I wish she wrote more books devoted to her horses and Matilda, giving them equal time to Sneaky Pie!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 10, 2007

    Too descriptive of fox hunting

    While I usually like Browns' books on 'sister' Jane, this was not one of them. I felt she had way too many descriptions of fox hungting, hounds, etc....I got too bogged dwon on all of them and lost sight of the story. I picked out the suspects and guilty ones earlier...not much suspense there. Looking forward to the new Sneaky Pie book in Feb.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    a reviewer

    In Virginia, septuagenarian ¿Sister¿ Jane Arnold is the grand mistress of the foxhounds at the Jefferson Hunt Club. Though crusty she is normally friendly to man and beast though she finds the four legged species much kinder than the two legged animal. However, Jane does not like two new club members due to their cavalier attitude towards tradition.----------------- Affluent Crawford Howard disrespects everyone especially Jane when he deems their antiquated methodology holds him back he commits the ultimate insult when he purchase foxhounds to form his own rival club. Cancer specialist Jason Woods expects VIP special treatment from the JHC especially Jane, but even long time members do not get superior handling and Sister tries to ignore him. Meanwhile Jane¿s companion Gray Lorillard audits the books of a local company only to learn Iphigenia ¿Iffy¿ Demetrios has been withdrawing money from it for years. Not long afterward someone murders Iffy and wounds Gray's brother. Jane and her four legged buddies conclude that someone fears what else the audit will reveal.------------------ The villain is obvious and the story line with talking animals used by Rita Mae Brown in this series (see FULL CRY) and her other major series (Mrs. Murphy) will delight her fans who will definitely want to read this charming cozy. The talk with the animals¿ whodunit is fun to follow as Sister and her four legged pals investigate the murder and the apparent attempted murder where she assumes Gray was the target. Fans of Ms. Brown will enjoy her latest personification mystery.------------- Harriet Klausner

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 19, 2013

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 18, 2011

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    Posted October 23, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 26, 2011

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    Posted August 21, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 6, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 1, 2011

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