The hunt is on in this new installment of Rita Mae Brown’s clever and engaging series. Only instead of chasing foxes into their dens, the locals must track down a killer and save the life of one of the most beloved folks in town.
It’s February, prime foxhunting season for the members of Virginia’s Jefferson Hunt Club. The girls at Custis Hall are finishing their last semester before heading off to college, the entrepreneurially shrewd Crawford Howard is still smarting from January’s breech in hound etiquette, and the Casanova Hunt Club is hosting their annual ball. New neighbors bring new friendships, and romance is in the air.
Then a shocking event alarms the community. A woman is found brutally murdered, stripped naked, and meticulously placed atop a horse statue outside a tack shop. The theft of a treasured foxhunting prize inside the store may be linked to the grisly scene, and everyone is on edge.
With few clues to go on, “Sister” Jane Arnold, master of the Jefferson Hunt Club, uses her fine-tuned horse sense to try to solve the mystery of this “Lady Godiva” murder. The septuagenarian still has a strong spring in her step and her wits about her, but that may not be enough. As Sister gets closer to the truth, she could become the killer’s next victim.
But humans aren’t the only ones equipped to sniff out the trail. The local foxes, horses, and hounds have their own theories on the whodunit. If only these peculiar people could just listen to them, they’d see that the killer might be right under their oblivious noses.
Once again, this charming southern community finds itself caught up in a bone-chilling tale of murder and greed. It’s up to everyone, two- and four-legged alike, to band together, beat the bushes, and bring to bay the evil forces that have declared the Jefferson Hunt Club fair game–because foul play is never in season.
Enlivened by a large cast of familiar two- and four-legged characters, "Sister" Jane Arnold's sixth adventure in Virginia hunt country (after 2006's The Hounds and the Fury) opens with the discovery of a nude female corpse tied to an equine shop fixture. The Jefferson Hunt community is appropriately distressed, but master of foxhounds Sister really gets outraged when a valuable trophy goes missing and then turns up in her stable. Suspects abound among the well-heeled and well-mounted but rather undeveloped members of the hunt. Brown's well-researched descriptions of hunting will please aficionados who don't mind her talking-animal conceit, but otherwise the prose is undistinguished; the "useful terms" section at the back is almost superfluous, though the exhaustive dramatis personae in the front is not. The tale is mostly carried by its unusual setting and a rather cozy plot featuring high-tech and financial wizardry. Author tour.