There is a timeless charm to this series, with its cat and dog protagonists helping their human solve mysteries. There have been many imitators over the years, but for the most part, the Browns (human and feline) have cornered the market in animal-driven mysteries. This particular book is a little bit weak in the plot, but fans will enjoy the intrepid trio of animals as they push and prod their human into compliance and understanding.
Crozet, Virginia, is the setting, and it is late spring. Harry Haristeen is busy bustling around her farm, doing the never-ending chores and keeping up with her crops and her horses. But a country drive with a dear friend leaves them in the ditch and wondering why. A DB (Dead Body) at the mechanic is horrifying and mystifying, and of course Harry--being the nosy gal she is--can’t keep out of it. The story does not rely on the reader’s previous knowledge of the series, although it is kind of fun to have an insider’s familiarity with Harry’s life, loves, jobs and friends. Having read all the books in the series makes you feel like a long-time resident of this small Virginia town
and creates some secret smiles on occasion.
The mechanics bashed-in head is a red light for Harry, and her experience and understanding of cars and their innards gives her an exclusive track on discovering what is going on. Her friends, Boom-Boom (yup, just what you are thinking…), Miranda, husband Fair, and the locals are worried about Harry’s safety--and her sanity. Tucker the Corgi, Mrs. Murphy (the “head cat” of the household) and the chubby grey cat Pewter are all determined to be along every step of the way, with their keen senses of smell and wise eyes leading the way.
The story evolves, as Mrs. Murphy books do, with a lot of input from the “regulars” of the series, and I really enjoy the fact that Harry Haristeen is such a talented, multi-layered personality.
She knows about cars, and animals, and farming, and knows how to be a good friend and neighbor. Her animal companions provide an off-the-wall humor and characterization that has kept Rita Mae Brown popular for 20 years… and is a cozy mystery series to enjoy and share.