Whisker of Evil
A Mrs. Murphy Mystery
A mysterious death in a Virginia farm town has the locals scratching their heads—while frisky feline Mrs. Murphy and her friends, fat-cat Pewter and corgi Tee Tucker, uncover clues as they curl their way around a cold-blooded killer.
This balmy summer in Crozet, Virginia, postmistress Mary Minor “Harry” Haristeen has a lot to think about. Things have been pretty cozy between her and her ex-husband, Fair and her beloved old post office is in danger of being replaced with a modern building—and modern rules. Harry’s thoughtful contemplation is shattered the day she stumbles over a dead body near Potlicker Creek. Barry Monteith, the handsome local horse breeder, has been savagely murdered. A true ladies’ man, Barry was known to have left a string of broken hearts behind him. But could a spurned lover be responsible for his untimely demise?
The plot only thickens when an autopsy reveals that Barry was infected with rabies weeks before he was killed. As usual, Harry can’t resist doing a little digging—with Mrs. Murphy close by to warn of approaching danger. Harry makes a remarkable discovery in the creek—the class ring of Mary Pat Reines, a local woman who disappeared thirty years earlier along with her prized Thoroughbred stallion. Like Barry, Mary Pat was a successful horse breeder—and now all of Crozet is wondering if the two cases are linked. As the police struggle with the evidence, the pressure gets hotter than a June afternoon—especially when another person is found dead of less-than-natural causes. As usual, Mrs. Murphy and her crew are the first to sniff out the truth.
But if they don’t find a way to help Harry piece together the puzzle, she could become the killer’s next target—and even Mrs. Murphy’s slinkiest moves won’t be able to save her.
Bestseller Brown (The Tale of the Tip-off, etc.) and her feline collaborator offer another winsome tale of endearing talking animals and fallible, occasionally homicidal humans, many of whom breed and raise horses in the small Piedmont town of Crozet, Va. Near Potlicker Creek, postmistress Mary Minor "Harry" Haristeen and her pets corgi Tee Tucker, tiger cat Mrs. Murphy and fat, gray kitty Pewter discover 34-year-old breeder Barry Monteith, "fit, handsome... and fun-loving," on the ground, his slashed throat gushing blood. "Death, often so shocking to city dwellers, was part of life here in the country." Later, Harry resigns in a pique when the overzealous, obnoxious animal-control officer prohibits her pets from the post office. A reawakening of affection for Fair, her former husband, and the building of an addition to her barn complicate things further. Her animals figure she's too distracted when Harry misses vital clues to Barry's murder and to the peculiar death of a second young breeder. The mystery thickens with a strange case of rabies that brings on the state health inspectors as well as the media. Brown perhaps overdoes the details of horse breeding, record-keeping and rabies, but fans are sure to cheer as Tee Tucker, Mrs. Murphy and Pewter rush to their mistress's rescue at the harrowing climax. Illustrations by Michael Gerraty not seen by PW.
As a veterinarian...
The story held my interest and inspired me to think about the many layers of joy and sorrow in my own small town. Well played. Thank you.