Bestselling authors Rita Mae Brown and her feline partner, Sneaky Pie Brown, return with a mystery starring Mary Minor “Harry” Haristeen, the sleuthing cats Mrs. Murphy and Pewter, and corgi Tee Tucker. But are they any match for a killer who’s made an entire town suspect by committing…
THE PURRFECT MURDER
Autumn has arrived in cozy Crozet, Virginia, and that means the town’s inhabitants are hard at work in home and garden preparing for winter. Harry is planning to harvest her first crop of Petit Manseng grapes along with her beloved sunflowers. Meanwhile, her recent marriage to Fair and her friendship with Deputy Cynthia Cooper, who’s rented nearby Blair Farm, are flourishing. But even when peace descends on the idyllic countryside, murder is lurking.
Mrs. Carla Paulson is one of the diamond-encrusted “come-here” set who has descended on Crozet with plenty of wealth and no feeling for country ways. She’s determined to make her new house the envy of all her well-heeled friends—and enemies—and she’ s hired architect Tazio Chappers to build it.
From the start, the project—and Mrs. Paulson—turns into a major headache relieved only by a side trip to study Thomas Jefferson’s extraordinary summer home at Poplar Forest. Harry couldn’t foresee that a day later Mrs. Paulson would be found stabbed to death at a gala fund-raiser with Harry’s friend, Tazio Chappers, standing over her, holding the knife.
Now Harry must solve what seems to everyone else an open-and-shut case. Every other human, that is. For her four-legged friends see it Harry’s way. But will they have to choose between catching the purrfect killer or saving Harry?
At the start of bestseller Brown's uneven 15th Mrs. Murphy Mystery (after 2007's Puss 'n Cahoots), Mary Minor "Harry" Haristeen, the former postmistress of Crozet, Va., is saddened to hear that a local ob-gyn has been killed either by a resentful friend, who thought the doc had once slept with his wife, or by prolife fanatics who were angered by his willingness to perform abortions. Next, a wealthy middle-aged woman is murdered at a fund-raiser. Harry's friend Tazio Chappars appears to be the most likely suspect, but Harry is sure of Tazio's innocence and begins to wonder if the two deaths are connected. Character development is frustratingly thin, and rather than exploiting the rich Virginia setting, Brown's local color extends only to superficial clich s (wealthy Virginia women wear understated jewelry, and the ladies with the flashiest gems are tacky new money). Harry's three pets, who pop up having testy, italicized conversations, are generally a distraction, not integral to the novel. Still, the well-paced plot builds to an unpredictable and complex conclusion.