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From Barnes & NobleA Tail of Murder
That felicitous and furry feline author, Sneaky Pie Brown, has teamed up once again with her human counterpart, Rita Mae Brown, to bring another fun and fascinating mystery to light. If you've experienced the whimsical high jinks of Brown's four-footed sleuths before, it's easy to see why this delightful series is so popular. If you haven't, then Pawing through the Past is the purr-fect way to get acquainted.
In the deceptively sleepy town of Crozet, Virginia, people have a way of turning up dead. So when the past comes back to haunt the alumni of Crozet High's class of 1980, it has a very lethal effect. Fortunately, America's favorite feline sleuth -- Mary Hairsteen's top cat, Mrs. Murphy -- is on the case and tracking the killer. But even Mrs. Murphy and her furry, able-bodied assistants are puzzled by this one, for the killer is a masterful planner with a devious mind.
In addition to her duties as postmistress, Mary Hairsteen, or Harry as everyone in Crozet knows her, is helping to plan her 20th class reunion. Things get off to a shaky start when several class members get a mysterious mailing, an anonymous letter that says simply, "You'll never get old." Although some see the curious letter as a compliment, and others think it's merely a joke, Harry and her cadre of pets find it discomfiting. When one of Harry's fellow classmates -- a notorious lothario with a long list of enemies -- turns up murdered, the words in the letter take on a whole new and far more sinister meaning. Especially when a second letter arrives, this one making it clear that the first murder won't be the last.
Harry's on the case in record time, and she quickly turns up an ugly incident from the past, one that led to another classmate's suicide years ago. Would those involved be so intent upon keeping their secret that they'd kill to do so? As the body count climbs, Harry starts to think so. But the list of potential killers is quickly whittled down as those on it start turning up dead. Harry's inquiries eventually lead her to the truth, but they also add her to the killer's hit list.
Mrs. Murphy, along with Tee Tucker, the Welsh corgi, and a gray cat named Pewter, are working right alongside Harry, trying to solve the case and keep their mistress safe. Their humorous and puzzled observations of human nature provide an entertaining contrast to their own instinctive knowledge and abilities. Their dogged efforts do pay off, but by the time they ferret out the truth and discover the startling identity of this weaselly killer, they are forced to employ some rather desperate measures in hopes of keeping Harry alive. Before it's all over, plenty of fur is flying.
In the hands of a writer less talented than Ms. Brown, a mystery series that includes the points of view of a menagerie of pets might seem trite and forced. But these critters blend into the story without a hitch, and their wry observations of their human counterparts along with their own characteristic behaviors only add to the fun. And the plot is tight enough to keep even the most sophisticated mystery fans guessing right up until the final denouement.