A Mrs. Murphy Mystery
In this fast-paced mystery by Rita Mae Brown and her feline co-author Sneaky Pie Brown, Mary Minor “Harry” Haristeen and her animal friends seek to solve a whodunit rooted in eighteenth-century Virginia—uncovering a shocking secret that refuses to stay buried.
At any moment a perfect summer day in Crozet, Virginia—nestled within the Blue Ridge Mountains—might turn stormy and tempestuous, as Harry knows too well when a squall suddenly sweeps in. In a blink, Harry’s pickup nearly collides with a careening red car that then swerves into a ditch. Harry recognizes the dead driver slumped over the vehicle’s steering wheel: Barbara Leader was nurse and confidante to former Virginia governor Sam Holloway.
Though Barbara’s death is ruled a heart attack, dissenting opinions abound. After all, she was the picture of health, which gives Harry and her four-legged companions pause. A baffling break-in at a local business leads Harry to further suspect that a person with malevolent intent lurks just out of sight: Something evil is afoot.
As it happens, Barbara died in the shadow of the local cemetery’s statue of the Avenging Angel. Just below that imposing funereal monument lie the remains of one Francisco Selisse, brutally murdered in 1784. Harry’s present-day sleuthing draws her back to Virginia’s slave-holding past and the hunt for Selisse’s killer. Now it’s up to Harry and her furry detectives—Mrs. Murphy, Pewter, and Tee Tucker—to expose the bitter truth, even if it means staring into the unforgiving eyes of history and cornering a callous killer poised to pounce.
Praise for the Mrs. Murphy Mysteries by Rita Mae Brown and Sneaky Pie Brown
“As feline collaborators go, you couldn’t ask for better than Sneaky Pie Brown.”—The New York Times Book Review
“Mrs. Murphy mysteries are fun, sweet, and beautifully adventurous.”—Bustle
“Brown [is] the queen of the talking animal cozy.”—Publishers Weekly
At the start of bestseller Brown's disjointed 24th Mrs. Murphy mystery (after 2015's Tail Gait), farm owner Mary Minor "Harry" Haristeen is nearly run off the road by nurse Barbara Leader, the caregiver for ailing 96-year-old Samuel Holloway, a former Virginia governor. Barbara's car comes to a halt, but Harry finds her dead behind the wheel. The subsequent discovery of a lethal drug in Barbara's system intensifies concern about the former governor's safety for Susan Tucker, Harry's friend and Holloway's granddaughter. The political ambitions of Holloway's state senator grandson, Edward Cunningham, who's Susan's cousin, complicate matters. Flashbacks to the 18th century illustrate episodes of abuse and cruelty that may have significance in the present, where a break-in at a website developer deepens the puzzle. Though readers may be enraptured by an 18th-century corgi named Piglet, poor construction relegates vital details to an afterword instead of incorporating them into the narrative.
25th book in series!
Tall Tail: A Mrs. Murphy Mystery by Rita Mae Brown is the twenty-fifth book in the Mrs. Murphy Mystery series. Harry Haristeen is driving down the road with her brood (her animals) in Crozet, Virginia when another car comes careening down the road. The other driver ends up in an accident near the Avenging Angel statute in the local cemetery. Harry (short for Mary Minor Haristeen) hurries over to check on the driver and finds Barbara Leader dead at the wheel. Barbara is the nurse for Susan’s paternal grandfather, Samuel Holloway (former governor of the state). Barbara had been such a help with Samuel (lifting his spirits). Samuel has leukemia and is slowly dying. His mind, though, is still sharp and he is busy working on his biography. A few days later a media company is broken into. Harry was using the company to shoot video for her website and they had recently shot footage at Big Rawly, the Holloway estate. Coincidence or is something more sinister afoot in this small town?
It is 1784 in Virginia when Francisco Selisse is murdered. It is believed Moses, a slave killed him and his wife, Ailee is an accomplice. Maureen Selisse, the victim’s wife, was present at the time. Catherine and John Schuyler along with Rachel and Charles West help Moses and Ailee. They did not commit the crime, but no one will believe a slave. Francisco is buried in the local cemetery with a beautiful Italian statue of an Avenging Angel marking his grave. How does the past tie in with what is happening in the present?
I have not read A Mrs. Murphy Mystery is a few years so when I saw this novel up for review, I thought it would be nice to catch up. I found Tall Tail to be more of life (and the people) in Crozet than a mystery novel. We get a lot of information about golf, Harry’s farm, horses, politics (a lot about politics) and the various animals. Tall Tail is nicely written and entertaining, but the mystery was easy to figure out. The beginning can be very confusing if you have not read any of the other books in the series especially when it starts going back in time (you have to get quite a bit into the book to see how the past and present relate). There are quite a few characters and it is almost impossible to keep them all straight (unless you have read every book in the series). I give Tall Tail 3 out of 5 stars (it was okay). If you are a fan of the Mrs. Murphy series, then you will enjoy Tall Tail. I do want to mention that the animals take a backseat in this novel. They have very few scenes, but they do get to help Harry (they get in a little action).
I received a complimentary copy of Tall Tail from NetGalley in exchange for an honest evaluation of the novel.