Showing posts with label Rita Mae Brown. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Rita Mae Brown. Show all posts

Monday, October 17, 2016

Front-2-Back ~ Library 25 Cent Booksale Buys

I started to not even write about this, but what the hell.  So a week ago–on a nice pre-fall Saturday–my best friend and went to the public library’s 25 cent book sale.  Excitedly, of course.  We had some authors in mind, and felt like this was the perfect opportunity to dig into the shopping fray.  Nonetheless, you know how these sales go; lots of books pulled from the library’s attic, and crammed on a stream of folding tables like a flea market.  Perfect way to spend a Saturday afternoon.  Even so, I walked in with three authors on my mind: Susan Wittig Albert, Nevada Barr, and Rita Mae Brown.  And I lucked out–and then some.  So let me share what I’ve found and why (more or less) I got them.
(I’m not going to talk too much about some of the authors, but will link their websites via their names.)
At the time I went to the sale I was in the middle of reading Doris Mortman’s True Colors.  I haven’t picked up her books in years–after spending the summer of 2011 engrossed in her second novel, First Born.  So when I found a cleaner copy of The Wild Rose at the sale, I grabbed it to replace the unread copy I bought at a thrift store a couple of years ago.  Hard to believe the copy is from the mid-80’s and in such pristine condition.  For 25 cents it was a no-brainer.  As for the copy of Mortman’s Rightfully Mine, it’s a discarded library book in decent condition.  But hey, I was enjoying True Colors so why not another Mortman book to add.  

Mortman writes what I would sum as the literary version of an 80’s mini-series.  Think Deceptions, Voice of the Heart, and Scruples.  Romance, drama, melodrama, family secrets.  You get it.  Oh, and of course stuck-up bitches with loads of money and attitude.  Love it!
Jackie Collins' Hollywood Husbands is finally off my Amazon wish list.  I placed it there immediately after reading Collins’ Hollywood Wives some summers ago.  Never got around to ordering the sequel, Hollywood Husbands.  But when this copy sprang up from the pile of books, I didn’t hesitate.  I’m an on/off Collins reader.  And from that experience, I don’t believe any of her titles I’ve read can top Hollywood Wives.  Here’s to hoping Hollywood Husbands can second it.  (Currently reading it and it’s selling me, but not in a “hot cakes” capacity.)

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Catch Rita Mae Brown's Cat

So what exactly is going on in Rita Mae Brown’s Cat as Cat Can, book #10 in her popular Mrs. Murphy pet detective cozy series?  Well, as always with these books, the story opens up with the change of seasons; in this particular entry, it’s finally spring again.  And with spring comes the blossoming of special events in the small town of Crozet, Virginia.  This spring, it’s time for the residents to get dolled up for the annual Dogwood Festival.  Meanwhile, strange occurrences are happening around town.  And with Crozet’s postmistress, Minor “Harry” Haristeen, somewhere in the middle of said occurrences. 
It started with a dead woodpecker found on her back porch.  Before one of her cats could take the bird’s corpse into its claws, Harry snatches it up.  Because of the bird's uniqueness, she plans to take it to a local taxidermist.  And, while going about her business, Harry then finds her friend, Miranda Hogendobber, in the midst of a hubcap robbery.  Miranda walked into a local grocery store, and walked out to find someone swiped her hubcaps in a blink.  Considering the hubcaps' worth, Miranda, Harry, and Deputy Cynthia Cooper make way to the local salvage yard first.
But then the bodies start piling up.  It began with one of the owners of the salvage yard turning up dead, and follows with the taxidermist Harry visited only days before with her dead woodpecker.
Believing the two deaths are connected, Harry investigates.  And as she gets closer to the killer, her team of pets have to stay miles ahead of her to keep her safe.

Monday, March 28, 2016

#MarchMysteryMadness | Challenge #6: The Pet Detective

Well, #MarchMysteryMadness is coming to an end in a couple of days.  Color me sad, especially with two and half challenges still stuck in my lane.  I took a break from reading mysteries to take in Ruth Pointer’s autobiography, Still So Excited!  It was a necessary, necessary task to take.  And one I enjoyed.  If anything, the autobiography re-charged me to tackle the remaining challenges.  Beginning with the 6th #MarchMysteryMadness challenge, The Whispering Pet Whisperer mystery.
Of course Rita Mae Brown is my go-to for reading pet detective mysteries.  I adore her window into the perspectives of animals, with their given abilities used to help their human companions solve crimes.  So the idea was the read the first book in Brown’s Mag Rogers series.  The series is about an ex-Wall Street employee who decided to make a break for her aunt’s Nevada ranch.  In turn, the two–along with their pet dogs–solve a local crime.  The crime begins with someone pipe-bombing the community’s water pumping station.  Knowing Brown some level of politics comes in hand.  But it sounds interesting, right?  
Well, it was.  Then I realized I would have to take on a new cast of characters populating a new community with new dynamics.  You see, Rita Mae Brown packs her series with characters.  Lots and lots of them.  So many she includes a mini List of Characters dossier before the story even starts.  You know, for the reader to revert to during the story's progression.  Should the reader become disorient during a scene where many characters, with different purposes, converse and perform.
Really, I wasn’t in the mood to take on a whole new cast.  No ma'am.  Not this late in the game.  I had my heart set on the book at first, though.  Yet, three chapters in, I was already flipping back to the mini dossier.
It was just too much work trying to warm up to this new crew.  So this is where my emergency care package fell in.
Hell, I went back to pick up where I left off reading Brown’s Mrs. Murphy series with book #10, Catch as Cat Can.  And I picked it back up with a sigh of relief.  It was a familiar stage.  Familiar climate.  Familiar tone.  Hell, even the damn streets' layout was already embedded in my brain.  Yet, most of all, the cast of characters were fictional friends.  I’ve already spent 10 books getting to know them (had trouble in the beginning, but obvious managed).
I devoured the book over the weekend and enjoyed every second of it.  Tiger cat Mrs. Murphy and corgi Tee Tucker saved me on this one.  Had I not sprinted back to their territory, I believe I would’ve been stuck in Brown’s A Nose for Justice.  And, subsequently, furthering my slothfulness this late in the challenges.
Lord, forgive me.
Man, but seriously.  This cozy mystery series is such a treat to me.  I get excited every time I start a new book.  And I long to pick the book back up when I'm away from it.  Maybe it’s because I don’t have pets but always wanted one.

Mystery Madness
Mystery Madness 2 members 2016 March Mystery Madness Challenge Group. More details to follow.

Books we've read

View this group on Goodreads »

Monday, December 7, 2015

Claws & Effect ~ Another Rita Mae Brown Junction

I spent a quiet weekend taking book number nine in Rita Mae Brown’s Mrs. Murphy series down.  And I enjoyed every minute of the cozy experience.  However, I feel as if I’ll be repeating myself talking about these books and series.  Nonetheless, I’ll try.
So what’s happening in Crozet, Virginia in book number nine?  For starters we’ve moved into the winter season; Brown rotates seasons throughout each book.  Even so, the residents of Crozet are suffering from something like seasonal depression.  To keep entertained, they whisper faux concern for bickering hospital staff members.  Particularly the hospital's plant manager and a doctor who've found themselves in a shove match inside the local post office.  What could be the issue?  And how wonderful it is for gossip during this freezing season?  Well, the townsfolk will chew over the reason among one another–for entertainment.  Until the plant manager turns up dead in the hospital's boiler room.  A boiler room rumored to contain a secret passage to the Underground Railroad from the Civil War.  And one in which operating and manufacturing secrets appear kept out of sight.  
With so many secrets abound, Harry and her canine/feline sleuthing duo investigates.  Of course with unsolicited service.  As more murders pop up, and the killer threatens Harry’s life, the clock races to catch the town's killer.  But now Harry will need to work with the police to remain safe while luring out the culprit.
As always, I just can’t get enough of this fluffy series.  I’ve often wondered what has drawn me most.  Is it the cozy, small-town atmosphere?  Or maybe it's Harry herself?  I love how she's amateurish, rugged and discerning.  She has an observational sense of recognizing the nature of her friends and neighbors.  As well as who has the potential to murder.  Or is it the treat–or hook of the series–of a cat and dog sleuth?
Ah, hell.  It’s a blend of all those elements, and the sometimes referenced humor as well.  And Brown does interject her thoughts and narrations on certain topics, but I’m hardly distracted enough to slip out of her stories.  Hardly!  So what if she wallows on and on about fox hunting during certain segments?  Besides, the horses and foxes expressing their grievances "live" make up for any commentaries.
Lastly, this is out of the blue, but I kind of dislike Mrs. Murphy gets more credit than her canine counterpart, Tee Tucker.  Why is the series named Mrs. Murphy Mysteries when Tee Tucker (and another cat named Pewter) are just as present?
Anyway, on to book ten!  The cozy mystery fun never stops.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The ULTIMATE Rita Mae Brown Mrs. Murphy Housekeeping (Haul)

Something in my spirit told me to do this–to go to my local public library.  My intention was to get off my ass and actually write my thoughts out on J. D. Robb's Devoted in Death.  And I got some of that done AFTER I raided the library's used bookstore for an opportunity only a fool would pass up.  Well, only if you're into cozy mysteries where pets help solve the crime.  
I came across a slew of mint (hell, I'd call them new) condition Rita Mae Brown hardbacks.  And by Rita Mae Brown, I mean her Mrs. Murphy cozy mystery series.  You know.  The series I've been screaming and crying about all year on this blog.  Click on the tags below to get what I mean.  
But how much were they apiece?  $1.50!  While there were eight (the last one wasn't in good condition), I walked out with seven.  The real kicker is they are in READING ORDER!  And even more exciting, they're in reading order following the book I just finished!  (Literally, I don't have to go to Amazon and throw money on books and shipping.)  With 24 books to date in the series, this is a decent chunk I've just collected.  
So let's sum this up.  Like-new condition.  Hardbacks.  $1.50.  Reading order.  Nothing was stopping me from this opportunity.  I overheard the workers speaking to one another about cleaning out the library's attic, and can only wonder if this is where these books came from.
Here's what I got.  I'll link each book to their Goodreads profile as well...

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Pawing Through the Past

Pawing through the Past is feline and canine detectives, Mrs. Murphy and Tee Tucker’s, eighth cozy mystery.  This time around, their ”mother," Mary Minor “Harry” Haristeen, stresses herself over her upcoming twentieth high school reunion.  The class of 1980 are trickling back to the small town of Crozet, in preparation. For them, it's time to catch up with one another, share memories, and find themselves on somebody's hit list.  And however dreadful as that appears, it’s only about as burdensome as Harry’s role on the reunion’s organization committee.  Nevertheless, with her alumni finding themselves plucked off, Harry and her pets take it upon themselves to investigate which 1980 Crozet High graduate is behind the killings.  The old saying of "the more things change, the more things stay the same" is just about right for this case.  And Brown does the “change” with a literal and almost unforeseeable twist.
As always, I enjoy this series.  It’s just a winner for the light, cozy mystery reader in me.  Still, as it regards the progression of the series and overarching character developments, not much has changed per the previous entry.  Also, while some entries are better crafted than others, Brown never lets up with her mystery’s set-up and theme.  She always gives her characters a fresh (sometimes too out there) direction...  
And Pawing through the Past played with various directions.  Some, I feel, if I list it’ll give away the entire book.  So for the sake of remaining vague, Pawing is a vengeance story told through the familiar social commenter filter (usually expressed by the animals) known in Brown’s material.  And that pushing filter couldn’t be truer here.  However, just for a brisk lap, think about what happens when you bully someone too far.  Think about how that experience sticks with and changes a person until he or she becomes consumed by it.
I really wish I could say more, but I’m biting my lip because it’ll give everything away.  There’s a twist about the culprit–and one that I suspected almost instantly.  That doesn’t change how fun, humorous, and crazy the book was, though.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Quick Brown/Cornwell Housekeeping

It happened.  I got inspired by the Kay Scarpetta countdown POST.  So I stepped into my library's used bookstore, and walked out with the first two–and only I presume–books in Cornwell's Win Garano series.  I’ve avoided them for so long, but saw At Risk [Book 1] and The Front [Book 2] ready and available for a fair $1.50.  I say fair also because, outside of Cornwell’s Kay Scarpetta series, I read the first book in her Andy Brazil series and more or less got excited for the proceeding two entries.  (Owned and unread I should add.)  So we’ll see how this goes.  If anything, the books are so thin they should finally catch up my lagging reading challenge.

GOLD.  Here I am finishing book seven of Rita Mae Brown’s Mrs. Murphy series.  And now I've found a nice, hardback copy of book eight.  Pawing Through the Pastis begging for some attention.  Man, if I can take this one down, that’ll be three Rita Mae Brown books in a month.  I’m down for that.

Used bookstores are the best.  Let’s just say that as one.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

What? Brown Behind Brown

"Things have been pretty exciting lately in Crozet, Virginia–a little too exciting if you ask resident feline investigator Mrs. Murphy.  Just as the town starts to buzz over its Civil War reenactment, a popular local man disappears.  No one's seen Tommy Van Allen's single-engine plane, either–except for Mrs. Murphy, who spotted it during a foggy evening's mousing.  Even Mrs. Murphy's favorite human, postmistress Mary Minor "Harry" Haristeen, can sense that something is amiss.  But things really take an ugly turn when the town reenacts the battle of Oak Ridge–and a participant ends up with three very real bullets in his back.  While the clever tiger cat and her friends sift through clues that just don't fit together, more than a few locals fear that the scandal will force well-hidden town secrets into the harsh light of day.  And when Mrs. Murphy's relentless tracking places loved ones in danger, it takes more than a canny kitty and her team of animal sleuths to set things right again..."
~ Cat on the Scent

Need I say anything more, considering I just talked about the previous Mrs. Murphy book with so much delight? No? Good, because the same joy still applies concerning my love of this cozy mystery series. As you can see, I immediately followed Murder on the Prowl (Mrs. Murphy #6) with Cat on the Scent (Mrs. Murphy #7) because I just did not get enough. So if I had a copy of book 8, I would be all over it at the moment.

Nevertheless, Cat on the Scent is standard Brown; loads of characters, talking pets, and small-town murders. I would say the pacing of Cat on the Scent slowed down from the rush of the previous book.  However, the new premise of “ruthless women and sexily cunning wiles” was equally as wonderfully delivered. Here and there, Brown’s characters continue to share pieces of their opinion over real-world topics.  One of those topics was the necessary versus unnecessary need for the Civil War. If you pay attention, you can see which line Brown is on.

An interesting aspect of Cat on the Scent comes somewhat as a spoiler; the villain(s) wins.  I suppose you'll just have to read the book to find out the stakes, lengths, and how.

Anyway, what more can I say besides I love this series?  I suppose I'm not hard to please.  I say, let's order the next five books!

Friday, July 3, 2015

The Creamy Ways of Rita Mae

"When a phony obituary appears in the local paper, the good people of Crozet, Virginia, are understandably upset.  Who would stoop to such a tasteless act?  Is it a sick joke–or a sinister warning?  Only Mrs. Murphy, the canny tiger cat, senses true malice at work.  And her instincts prove correct when a second fake obit appears, followed by a fiendish murder... and then another.  People are dropping like flies in Crozet, and no one knows why.  Yet even if Mrs. Murphy untangles the knot of passion and deceit that has sent someone into a killing frenzy, it won't be enough.  Somehow the shrewd puss must guide her favorite human, postmistress "Harry" Haristeen, down a perilous trail to a deadly killer... and a killer of a climax.  Or the next orbit may be Harry's own."

Y’all know what time it is, right? If not, it’s Rita Mae Brown time (now don't you snicker!). Seeing this is the sixth book in Brown’s Mrs. Murphy cozy mystery series, I still don’t have much to say other than I simply adore these books.  If that's a valid summation, please believe it.  Anyway, they're light and probably written for an acquired taste, considering they're about a dog and cat detective.  Nevertheless, Brown’s way with words still has the “creamy” quality I savor.  It's a quality that begs me to grab a blanket, pillow, and turn off the PS4. So I had a great time spending hours cozying up to this book, especially as a thunderstorm blew into town. Matter-of-fact, I raced home to get to Murder on the Prowl minutes before the storm broke. 
The Pull

Jumping from the above synopsis, there’s always an extended cast introduced on top of the "good people" of Crozet. Said extended cast takes a minute or two to adjust to; Brown considers each character's history, purpose, determination, and reason.  However, should you find yourself lost in their mix, Brown has a Cast of Characters page present for you to revert to. You know, in case you need a cheat sheet. Still, I repeat, after a while you won’t need it. You’ll get them just fine because they have the tendency to come alive the further you read.

Whether it's via the perspective of her cat or dog sleuth, it's always interesting watching her players operate.  Especially within the given theme of each book (Murder on the Prowl took on teenage academic pressure while spiraling into something desperate and horrifying).  No, her characters aren't superbly deep and complex, but what they are is twisted and vivid to their roles.  So by the end of her books, I’m always left desperate for the next story.  Especially after her villains lay down his/her side of the in-hand events.

I have to keep reading this series. They're the quintessential definition of a cozy (next to Murder, She Wrote). I want to curl up with these books each time I pick one up.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Your Standard Meow

"The annual steeplechase races are the high point in the social calendar of the horse-mad Virginians of cozy Crozet.  But when one of the jockeys is found murdered in the main barn, Mary Minor "Harry" Haristeen finds herself in a desperate race of her own–to trap the killer.  Luckily for her, she has an experienced ally; her sage tiger cat, Mrs. Murphy.  Utilizing her feline genius to plumb the depths of human depravity, Mrs. Murphy finds herself on a trail that leads to the shocking truth behind the murder.  But will her human companion catch on in time to beat the killer to the gruesome finish line?"

Ugh! I’m here again, trying to write my thoughts on a Rita Mae Brown Mrs. Murphy book. I don’t say “ugh” in a negative way–especially not concerning the book. I say “ugh” because it gets harder and harder to come up with something to say about the books.  Because, like many on-going series, you're either in on the bewitchery or you're not.  And considering Murder, She Meowed is book five, I'm in. 

They're stories revolving around a cat and a dog helping their human companion (they call her “mother”) solve cozy murder mysteries in small-town Crozet, Virginia. They're not the most astounding, intelligent, and thoroughly mind-bending mystery reads; but still they're simply great. What they are are fun, interesting, comfortable, and charming. Either you're lulled into the animalistic perspective of Murphy and Tucker, or you're not.  Or maybe I like them because I love animals, but will pass at having pets.

Regardless of all that, they have that something. I mentioned before how I love Brown’s “creamy” way with words. And how I love her drive in painting small-town citizens and their various nuances and dynamics with one another. Those components of her storytelling remains strong in Murder, She Meowed.  (Actually, I was kind of baffled that the male model character wasn't around this time.) And yes, some of the mystery elements can sometimes come across as a little contrived. Then there’s the sometimes problematic situation of multiply players and perspectives biting into the mystery, meanwhile the trading of information between characters slips from my reading experience.  In other words, sometimes I'm left trying to recall how such-in-such character gathered information privy to only those present at its delivery.

Nonetheless, at the end of the day, it’s all about the character of Crozet and its cast, both human and animal alike. It’s that hook of the series that makes this happen.  It's that hook that allows me to slip into a robe and just escape to Crozet as the sun goes down over my window. And arriving and finishing book number five only makes me squeal for the comfort, familiar and animal motivations inside book six.

I just adore the damn series!  THERE!  (^_^)

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Comfort Readings

My job makes me sick. No, really. It makes me sick. Clock in. Clock out. Misery. Draining. Being pounded by energy that infects my own. Not living, but slowly dying. Like Spike said to Buffy while she worked at the Double Meat Palace, “This place will kill you.” It’s a phrase that comes to mind as I beg God not to let me die in “this place.”

These past two weeks have been filled with bad weather; snow, icy roads, frozen cars on slushy streets with a manager willing to spin his truck through it all to collect his employees to fill shifts. A manager who just wouldn't give up. My Sundays were filled with running a store alone, while the assistant manager clocks out at 9am or comes in for an hour and a half at 11am to do paperwork and leave as a line brews before my register. I often wonder what‘s the point of her even coming. And when she’s gone, I'm picking up the business phone to calling my general manager (who’s at home with his kids) to tell him that I have a line and he has vendors, complaints, equipment failures, and a dirty store that is cheap and irresponsible of him to give to one employee alone with any expectations.

Last Saturday I told him I wasn't coming the next day.  He would have to find somebody else to manage his store alone Sunday.  And I didn't come.  So I came to work Tuesdays with rumors of my suspension floating around, which I'd gladly take considering the job already snatched me from taking a vacation since last June.

So I have to smudge myself to get rid of psychic garbage, as I wonder when this will end. When will this chaos finally dissipate?

However, there's always books!  So in the meantime, I've gathered comfort. Only two this time, though I browsed Barnes & Nobles for a few more that I placed on my TBR. Nonetheless, emphasizing "comfort," I decided on Rita Mae Brown’s Murdered, She Meowed (book #5 in her Mrs. Murphy series) and The Weed that Strings the Hangman’s Bag, book #2 in Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce series. One involves pets solving crimes; the other an eleven-year-old English girl doing the same.  I haven't cracked open a book all of March, so I have to defibrillate myself with some faves and familiars.

Nevertheless, the two interesting books that I had passed in favor of comfort are the newly encountered Gods and Shadows by Jayde Brooks and Factory Girls by Leslie T. Chang.  Two in which I can't wait to check out on my next visit.

So here's to not letting people, places or situations steal our joy!   

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Ramblings: Pay Dirt, Bubbles and Killers.

"The residents of tiny Crozet, Virginia, thrive on gossip, especially in the post office, where Mary Minor "Harry" Haristeen presides with her tiger cat, Mrs. Murphy.  So when a belligerent Hell's Angel crashes Crozet, demanding to see his girlfriend, the leather-clad interloper quickly becomes the chief topic of conversation.  Then the biker is found murdered, and everyone is baffled.  Well, almost everyone... Mrs. Murphy and her friends, Welsh corgi Tee Tucker and overweight feline Pewter, haven't been slinking through alleys for nothing.  But can they dig up the truth in time to save their humans from a ruthless killer?"
~ Pay Dirt blurb

This post will probably have less to do about the actual book, but more on a thought about the cozy mystery sub-genre.

Let’s make this quick. Pay Dirt is book four in Rita Mae Brown and Sneaky Pie Brown’s Mrs. Murphy series. Evidently, I'm becoming attached to this series, which works for me because the cast–both human and animal alike–are fun to spend time with as they try to place their heads (as well as ears and noses) together as a community to solve small-town murders. Or better yet, the disruption and chaos draping their knit community because of murder.  This ensues a slew of gossipers congregating at the local post office, with many of them not sharp enough to keep their mouths shut with a potential killer in the room.  And another few (including the main protagonist) can't hold water even when the police ask them to withhold important information.  So honestly, the mystery could be solved through the gossiping townies, contrary to actual sleuthing, clues and evidence.  Talkative interesting characters and their quirks makes a cozy mystery indeed.

Nonetheless, this kind of leads me to another little thought concerning this sub-genre of the mystery literary form, and it’s something that lightbulb'ed me with the Mrs. Murphy series. The main cast of townies in cozies hardly ever changes, but a secondary cast of fresh townies emerges per book. That brand new cast consists of maybe four or five individuals never mentioned previously.  (I say this suggesting it’s a series, and you‘re a number of books deep into it.) To the reader, those four or five secondary townies are in obvious placement as suspects and killers. Some are more interesting, entertaining, and likeable than others.  However, as the case closes and the killer is caught, so are those interesting characters.  They're either murdered or never show up again later in the series. Then it’s on to the next book and the next brew of secondary cast members.

And here ends the thought.

This kind of limits everything as Pay Dirt‘s mystery unfolded. How so? Because all you really have to do is take note of the secondary cast of characters that are introduced. They're like in this bubble, so much so that I knew right away who the culprit was and had a general guess as to why they committed the murder(s). And once again, considering the series is written in the third person, their intent generates from wrath and greed (the easier of the two sins) which makes it super easy to conclude early on who‘s responsible and more or less why. So it’s not a bad thing at all knowing the whodunit, nor is this always marked and strict to this sub-genre. It’s just clear that it’s too easy to separate the main cast from the “others“ when it comes to your engaging in the deduction. There's no challenge other than watching the case bloom while managing your own assumptions about the clues at hand.

Just a thought. Nothing serious. Other than, sometimes I like the secondary characters too and hate to see them killed off or survive only to fall into the town’s history. That's mostly where all of my current rambling is coming from.  I wanted to get my thoughts down before I got lazy, so pardon any confusion. Nevertheless, I wanted a little more from these secondary characters and their drama outside of Pay Dirt.  However, I get that the actual hook of the series is the voice and perspective of a cat and dog sleuth–which really is where it's at.  So here's to book five!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Cats, Dogs. Monticello.

Harry, her pet tiger cat, Mrs. Murphy, and pet corgi, Tee Tucker, are back in their third installment, Murder at Monticello. A deep look into history and relationships comes into thematic play in Murder at Monticello. And this time the three sniff, sneak, and ruminate over a centuries-old skeleton dug up during an archaeological dig.  The remains were found underneath the slave quarters surrounding American Founding Father Thomas Jefferson‘s home. Further research and investigation uncovers that it’s the remains of a wealthy white man, dressed and decorated as a man of status during his era. So when questions arise concerning whom this man was and how he found himself bludgeoned and buried underneath the slave quarters' fire place, the citizens of Crozet are suddenly under watch as a murderer begins to pick off those researching this unearthed and ancient scandalous affair.

As always, I love Rita Mae Brown’s “creamy” way with words and characters, and her even “creamier“ cozy mysteries. She does small-town murders with big personalities well–whether it’s through the perspective of a cat or dog. (Or possum or owl.) However, I sometimes do struggle with maintaining her list of characters, with their off-beat names and nicknames. Though she’s a series regular, characters like Big Marilyn Sanburne (the “queen of Crozet”) is often referred to as Mim, Big Marilyn, Mrs. Sanburne, or Marilyn within the narrative flow. Then toss in her daughter Little Marilyn, and other names like Miranda Hogendobber and Mary Minor Haristeen (who is the main character, Harry), and sometimes I had to take a small recollective step back. However, it’s not that bad once you get the hang of these characters as well as establishing which has specific relations with who (pay close attention to the husbands involved).  I can say that Brown placing a Cast of Characters list at the beginning of the book was helpful and necessary. But still, sometimes I just needed a visual to keep up.

If following the characters and their relations with one another weren't enough, you should be forewarned that you may want to brush up just a touch on your American History. While the subject of Thomas Jefferson’s presidency may seem familiar on the surface, watching these characters (including Mrs. Murphy and Tee Tucker) work to unfold his lineage will require a degree of concentration.  Of course that's if you are interested enough to tackle the subject just as Brown did.  Personally, I kind of ho hum'ed my way through knowing I would never remember the details, but trusted that if it related to the actual mystery Brown would set it all straight in the end.  Nonetheless, the study on period attire, 19th century politics, and slave/owner relations, may bring confusion just as well.  So how they relate to the mystery?  Well, you'll either get these essential subjects as a whole, or in pieces. Just be ready for a stack of historical and genealogical information.

With all that said, I found the mystery itself layered and pretty satisfying, if not easy. I think the ease came from how the book is told through the third person, so you gather all the quirks, manners, motivations, and aspirations of each of the characters and their respective potential as the murderous culprit. From that point, it became a simple matter of deduction outside of the obvious; therefore, not too much came unexpectedly.  This leads me to the ending and retrieval of the culprit. In this instance, the mystery was dissatisfying.  Unlike the excitement in the previous two books, Harry and her pets didn't have a standoff with the killer.  Those scenes I really enjoyed and missed this time around.

I think the best part of Murder of Monticello is the layers, and the way Brown peels each layer away to construct her mystery. (Okay, besides Mrs. Murphy and Tee Tucker in conversation and action.) The murder(s) were done in a greedy attempt to hide family secrets generations deep. With a political slant relating race issues and history. So there’s always more to a Brown book besides a story featuring animals as sleuths. Lots and lots more. And I think that’s why I like these books. They're fun, easy, peculiar, and multi-layered enough to keep me interested.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Recent Acquisitions

Two recent acquisitions.  Nothing totally new, just furthering a few of my newly favorite series.

Bitter Medicine by Sara Paretsky is book four in her V. I. Warshawski series.  In this book Warshawski's sixteen-year-old friend, Consuelo, is pregnant and diabetic.  Consuelo's baby is birth prematurely.  Unfortunately, both her baby and Consuelo ends up dead.  Warshawski suspects malpractice and sets about a dangerous investigation of unveiling a nasty cover-up.  After the third book, Killing Orders, I have to say that I'm superrrrrrr ready to move back in Warshawski's world.    

Murder at Monticello by Rita Mae Brown is book three in her Mrs. Murphy Mystery series.  After book two, Rest in Pieces, I have to repeat how thrilled I am to keep moving forward with this series.  It's like a cold–but no cold–comfort.  So what is Murder at Monticello about?  Basically, an archaeological dig on a few slave quarters in the town of Crozet, Virginia uncovers the skeletal remains of a centuries-old man.  Or is it really centuries old?  Rita Mae Brown is always good with surprises, so I really can't wait to move back into murders underneath the eyes of a cat and dog sleuth.

Another book I wanted to mentioned, but suddenly forget to add to the image, was a copy of Terry McMillian's A Day Late and a Dollar Short.  My best friend let me borrow it.  It'll be my first McMillian book, and I'm thinking about picking that up next.  Just wish I could get out of this reading slump.

Anyway, what are you reading?  Obsessed with any series?

Friday, May 30, 2014

Pieces of Mae Brown

I read a review once that expressed how Rita Mae Brown’s sleuthing feline series, Mrs. Murphy Mysteries, grow stale as the series continues.  I'm choosing not to buy into that thought just yet, especially because I’m only two books deep in the series and enjoying myself too damn much to believe it.  Or, in fact, enjoying Brown’s “creamy” way with words, character, and ability to uncurl a good cozy mystery.  

It didn't take me long to finish Rest in Pieces.  One day I took the book, laid across the bed, and didn't stop reading until I was halfway through.  The following day, I didn't get out of bed (except for a quick breakfast) until I finished the book before noon.  See, I just had to know what the hell was going on in the small town Brown created and disrupted with murder.  

So I sprawled in bed with no real-life concerns, flooded with elementary school nostalgia from watching talking animal movies like the 90's Homeward Bound and Babe.  Mrs. Murphy and Tucker--a cat and dog duo--were just too enjoyable to put aside.  Nevertheless, my churning curiosity bubbled up in concerns to the pieces of a corpse littering the small, tight-knit community of Crozet, Virginia.  And whether or not Crozet's postmistress, mother of our cat and dog duo, and amateur sleuth, Mary Minor Maristeen (Harry), has the sally to uncover a murderer alongside her talkative pets.

The hook of this series remains that the animals solve the crime.  However, that soft touch doesn't take away from the gritty appeal for murder and small town mayhem that has completely taken me over from within this series.  Can't wait for book three!

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