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3.9 out of 5 stars14
3.9 out of 5 stars
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Showing 1-3 of 3 reviews(4 star).Show all reviews
on May 14, 2004
Rita Mae Brown, along with her cat Sneaky Pie, writes excellent mysteries set in the small town of Crozet, Virginia, with Mary Minor "Harry" Harristeen, the local postmistress, as the protagonist. Helping her are her three pets, Mrs. Murphy and Pewter--the cats--and Tucker--the corgi. All three animals carry on lively conversations and investigate along with Harry, even though none of the humans can understand them.

This mystery concerns the death of Barry Monteith, a local horse breeder. Even more mysterious is that fact that Barry, although viciously murdered, was also infected with rabies. Harry soon finds the class ring of Mary Pat Reines, a local horsebreeder who disappeared in 1967 with her prize stallion. Two more deaths soon follow, and the entire close-knit town is shaken, trying to discover the murderer and the source of Barry's rabies.

The only flaw with this book, and the reason I didn't give it 5 stars, is the author's fascination with horses. An excellent horsewoman (horseperson?) herself, she includes quite a bit of breeding information in the novel, which is interesting until she goes on for several pages about it. You can't skip it, though--there are clues enclosed in it. Fans of the series will do fairly well with the information, as Brown has given us a great deal about horses in all of her books, but it does drag after a while.

This book is very integral to the series, and many events that affect the entire series take place in it. For this reason, I don't recommend it to new readers. Pick up "Wish You Were Here" or "Rest in Pieces," the first two books in the series. Not only will you get the horse information, but you'll be better introduced to the marvelous cast of characters. Brown always includes a cast of characters in her novels--one that encompasses both animals and people--but you'll love getting the history of the characters!

Bottom Line: An excellent cozy for small-town people, cat-lovers, horse-lovers, anyone! Series-altering events take place in it, though, so it's not recommended for first-time readers. Other than that, enjoy the wonderful 3-dimensional characters and excellent plot!
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on April 3, 2004
Handsome horse breeder Barry Monteith is found with his throat slit near Potlicker Creek in Crozet, Virginia --- shocking news made even more shocking when the autopsy reveals Monteith had been infected with rabies. As fear of that silent killer increases, along with the fear of a human killer, the residents of Crozet band together with their usual picnic and potluck lunches --- but some among them are afraid that the animal citizens of the town may be dangers.
This notion does not sit well with either Mary Minor "Harry" Haristeen or her beloved menage of trois pets: corgi Tee Tucker, tiger cat Mrs. Murphy and the weight-challenged gray feline Pewter. Harry, happily toiling away at the Crozet post office where she has worked since graduating from Smith with an art history degree fifteen years ago, can't imagine that the well-cared-for domestic animals of her beloved hometown are carrying an infectious disease --- any more than she believes that the long-ago disappearance of local horsewoman Mary Pat Reines was a simple accident.
When Harry (accompanied, of course, by Tee, Mrs. M. and Pewter) finds Mary Pat's distinctive signet ring in Potlicker Creek, her formidable brains begin clacking and humming. Despite another hideous rabies-related death and the warnings of her obviously besotted ex-husband Fair, Harry (whose brains don't get much of a workout at the P.O.) starts to put all kinds of dangerous pieces together.
In the first few Sneaky Pie collaborations, the animal dialogue sometimes felt forced and/or got in the way of the plot; in this one, it's downright enjoyable to "listen" as the feisty little Corgi interacts with an owl, or Mrs. Murphy talks to a fox family. However, all this animal talk isn't just for cuteness's sake. The kicker in all of Rita Mae and Sneaky Pie's books is that the animals figure things out well before the humans do --- and they also figure out ways to help those humans save face.
If only the humans could do the same thing for each other consistently. Brown has a lot of homo sapien fish to fry here, from Harry and Fair's awkward second courtship, to a slightly dim policeman's meddling, to the real nature of happiness and what we do for love (in this case, make an unlikely adoption). From time to time, forensics gets in the way of plot progression --- sections with details of rabies transmission and horse breeding, for example, are a bit too dense to wade through and will make readers itch for another catfight between Mrs. Murphy and Pewter. But the good news is that this reader is itching to read the next book and learn what comes next for the engaging Harry, a modern woman with an old-fashioned temperament.
--- Reviewed by Bethanne Kelly Patrick
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on May 22, 2004
Much better than the last in the series, ejoyed reading it.
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