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Outfoxed [Mass Market Paperback]

Rita Mae Brown
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Nov. 28 2000 Foxhunting Mysteries (Book 1)
As Master of a prestigious hunt club, Jane Arnold, known as Sister, is the most revered citizen in the Virginia Blue Ridge Mountain town where a rigid code of social conduct and deep-seated tradition carries more weight than money. Nearing seventy, Sister now must select a joint master to ensure the club's future. It is an honor of the highest order--and one that any serious social climber would covet like the Holy Grail.

When the competition flares up between two determined candidates, Southern gentility flies out the window. Soon the entire town is pulled into a rivalry that is spiraling dangerously out of control. Even the animals have strong opinions. But when opening hunt day ends in murder, Sister is stunned. Now, with the help of a few clever foxes and hounds, she must lay the trap to catch the killer.

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From Amazon

Rita Mae Brown fervently believes that felines are a lot smarter than most people, and in her popular Mrs. Murphy mysteries, the cats are always leaps and bounds ahead of their human companions. (They also speak in italics, which makes it easy to distinguish them from their somewhat bumbling owner/companions.) In Outfoxed the foxes, hounds, and a few clever birds solve a murder that's hardly more than a raison d'être for Brown's thorough and detailed description of the highly ritualized world of the Jefferson Hunt. Fox hunting is more than just an entertaining way to spend a fall afternoon in Virginia--it's a way of life for everyone involved, from Sister Jane, the Master of the Fox Hunt, to Crawford Howard and Fontaine Buruss, two men who'd kill for the chance to succeed her. By the time a death actually occurs, Brown is three-fourths of the way to the last page, but it doesn't really matter; by this point, the reader is wholly involved in the arcane world of casts, whippers, scent stations, ratshots, and the social rules of the canid and canine communities. And while a man has been murdered, it's the slaughter of the fox used to lure him to his death that really upsets Sister, the strong-willed matriarch who is the novel's protagonist. The thrill of the chase--the hunt itself, not the search for the killer--is on every page of this masterful foray into a fascinating world. And as usual in a Rita Mae Brown novel, the animals have the best lines as well as the last word. --Jane Adams --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Set in Virginia's foxhunting country, Brown's latest, anthropomorphic mystery will appeal mainly to devoted fans of her animal-centric Sneaky Pie novels (Cat on the Scent, etc.). Jane Arnold, septuagenarian master of the venerable Jefferson Hunt, is preoccupied, Lear-like, with the question of succession. Whom should she train as joint-master of the foxhunting club: the philandering lightweight Fontaine Buruss, or the philistine Yankee millionaire Crawford Howard, who promises to save the club from financial ruin? While the two unworthy candidates vie shamelessly for the post, Jane (known locally as Sister, despite her matriarchal stature) must also cope with the personal travails of other club members, especially the Franklins, whose two beautiful daughters have become "coke whores." Then, in the middle of the season's opening hunt, Fontaine is found murdered, a fate that rattles Sister not half so much as the simultaneous discovery of a murdered red fox. As the foxes note appreciatively in their subterranean parallel universe, "Sister is one of us"; they also pontificate on human nature, the environment and other species ("Groundhogs have no sense of aesthetics"). Horses, foxhounds and Sister's pet cat Golliwog also hold forth for chapters at a time (Golliwog on why she reads Sister's books: "It's the best way to enjoy an uninterrupted conversation with the best human minds from any century"). Brown, herself a dedicated Virginia foxhunter, clearly knows her fascinating terrain, as well as her steely, charismatic protagonist. But few grown-up readers will buy her depiction of the animal kingdom as a benign world in which furry critters chatter philosophically, while bumbling humans commit savage acts. Author tour.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Mystery involving a different way of life... Aug. 18 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I am getting the distinct feeling that many people are not happy with this information concerning fox hunting in America. Myself, I find it interesting (since Virgina is barely a hop, skip, and a jump away from Pennsylvania). Also, many readers are a little skeptical of Brown's anthromorphizing of the animals in her book. Even though we do not understand everything there is to know about animals, I do know as a scientist that many of the past ways of looking at animals are untrue. For years, scientists said animals did not play. That's been disproven on many fronts. When was the last time you saw an otter? Sometimes I think all they do is play and preen themselves. And zoos are now giving animals all kinds of 'human' things like balls, ropes, etc. because they found out that animals like bears and monkees are prone to depression if they don't have much to play with, or never see anything new to explore.
Enough of the ranting. I enjoyed this book. It obviously came before one of her other books I read with 'Sister' in it. Some of the talk between the animals is absolutely hilarious, just because I can imagine the dumb things that we do as humans probably amuse them. As for animals like foxes becoming used to people, it does happen...we went camping and had three skunks as visitors, who would munch on marshmallows for an hour while around the campfire, and then left to bug someone else. Screams all over the campsite but no one got sprayed. Those skunks knew we were a source of treats. I don't recommend feeding wild animals usually, and especially with rabies in raccons and skunks. But these guys were harmless, and just after our food. I imagine the animals got a big kick out of scaring campers too.
Rita Mae Brown has always been a favorite of mine, and will continue to be as she writes.
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By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This is a paean to fox-hunting Virginians rather thinly disguised as a mystery. (I'm sure that the fact that Brown is one of them herself in no way prejudices her.) I often wish that authors would not turn perfectly good essays or non-fiction into mediocre (if not downright bad) novels. The plot is subordinated to lauding fox-hunting, and the character development is pretty poor. Sister, the protagonist, is what used to be described as a "magnificent character" and is possessed of every virtue and good quality except a plausible, living personality. The rest are pretty flat as well, and taken as a whole, not good exemplars of the natural nobility that Brown claims for them.
The book's strongest point is it's description of the world of fox-hunting. I know several people who would revel all of the extreme detail, and would just love to fret over finding champagne versus cream-colored boots (or whatever). Personally, I find it mind-numbing either in print or in real life, but for them that likes it, enjoy!
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4.0 out of 5 stars A good, well-written mystery. Jan. 9 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I enjoyed "Outfoxed". As usual with Rita Mae Brown's books, I have an initial credibility gap when the animals start to talk. But then I remember that they really function like the Greek chorus in the classic plays, and the comments are delightfully editorial and observative. I revel in the detail, too: the setting of the fox hunt, and the view that the fox hunt is a giant game with rules understood by people, horses, hounds, and foxes alike...that's a delightful perspective. No, the murder isn't particularly important--it isn't meant to be. The suspense comes from wondering which one of the two disgusting antagonists is gonna get done in, and the hope is---that they both will. What's amazing about Brown is that she is able to prolong the suspense up to the very last ten pages: it's then that we find out who the murderer is, and what the motive is for the murder, and that--like the heroine, Sister--the reader feels happy about the demise of the man, and angry about the killing of the fox. The novel exhibits a fine use of suspense and detail, and is a compelling look at social issues and behavior as well.
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2.0 out of 5 stars A disappointment June 17 2000
Format:Hardcover
Rita Mae Brown has a definite talent for description, and she uses it well when the subject matters to her: the joys of cleaning first-rate english tack(horse bridles and saddles); the pride of owning a large rural property in a place where the land is beautiful, and breeding counts; the careful nurturing of horses and hounds, and so on. This mystery novel's milieu springs from the author's real life experience as a Virginia foxhunter and gentlewoman "farmer". Unfortunately and oddly, though, she seems to lack a feel for real human beings, and her main character has so little empathy for other homosapiens(as opposed to animals)that it's more than a little disturbing. This is a murder mystery where death doesn't really bug ANYone in a supposedly close-knit, tiny community-not even the young children of a murder victim(their mother-just widowed by a gruesome murder, describes her kids as upset, of course-but really more excited than anything-!). It's a shame that Brown couldn't have done a non-fiction essay on the subjects she knows so well, but one suspects the publisher calls the tune with sales in mind, and mysteries sell. Brown just can't plot a good one, with more than one likeable character. And yes, the animals "talk" to each other, as in the Sneaky Pie series. They're just as verbose as the humans, and just barely more likeable.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Outfoxed - a refreshing change of pace
I thoroughly enjoyed the book - I couldn't wait to find time to read. Outfoxed is light yet intelligent with a fascinating glimpse at the communication between animals and their... Read more
Published on Feb. 21 2004 by Susan L. Warden
4.0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed this book....
....but found it confusing since I read Hotspur first. Apparently the author decided to ignore the details in Pete's will in the following books. Read more
Published on Nov. 12 2003 by Rayhne
2.0 out of 5 stars It's definitely not Sneaky Pie!
This is tolerable only if you really, really loooooove foxhunting. I don't. I fought through to the end, largely because I kept hoping it would turn into a Sneaky Pie level... Read more
Published on Jan. 21 2003
4.0 out of 5 stars A mystery about foxhunters - with clever dialogue
I have enjoyed all of the Mrs. Murphy mysteries, in part because I'm a cat-and-dog person. The illustrations are a plus, done by people who really know and love animals. Read more
Published on Sept. 22 2002
4.0 out of 5 stars So talented
Rita Mae Brown is such a talented writer. This entire series makes me feel like Crozet, Virginia, is my "summer place. Read more
Published on July 3 2002 by tzefirah
5.0 out of 5 stars Very enjoyable
If you are looking for another Sneaky Pie Brown "type" book, this is and it isn't one of those. Yes, the animals talk, but it's mainly a "people" book. Read more
Published on March 2 2002
4.0 out of 5 stars Rita Mae be habit forming
This book, as well as the others by Rita Mae Brown, is a well written, funny book that one can appreciate more if you are familiar with her previous books. Read more
Published on Dec 14 2001 by Jeri Tyler
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't waste your time.
Mind-numbingly dull. The only mystery about this book was how it got published in the first place. Unlike other reviewers, I found the characters to be completely one-dimensional... Read more
Published on Nov. 5 2001 by Just Another Opinion
3.0 out of 5 stars Lots of information - not as much mystery
The pace of the plot is slowed down because of so much fox hunting detail - so I didn't like it as much as the Sneaky Pie mysteries. But it's still worth the read!
Published on July 9 2001
4.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful new protagonist
Although there was a great deal of information about the intricacies of fox hunting, I felt they lent a depth and subtext to the plot and character of Sister. Read more
Published on Dec 29 2000 by D. Poenisch
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