I have been collecting Rita Mae Brown’s Mrs. Murphy series in hardcover, but after reading the latest, Santa Clawed, I’m beginning to wonder why I bother to buy the new ones as they come out. The mystery is a hodgepodge of recycled ideas from previous books, and about the only thing that’s different is the bits about what’s going on in the lives of the main characters in Crozet. As much as I like reading about Harry, Mrs. Murphy, and all the rest, I’d rather go back and re-read the good stories than see Brown pump out more half-assed books like this one.
Puss ‘n Cahoots: A Mrs. Murphy Mystery by Rita Mae Brown
Meh. I’ve been a fan of the Mrs. Murphy series from book one, and this is the first to disappoint me. The author spent more time describing the setting and the technical elements of saddlebred horse shows than on character development or suspense. Normally this wouldn’t be a problem because most of the rest of the books take place in one area (Crozet, Virginia) and with some of the same characters throughout.
Brown usually has only a handful of newcomers to introduce and maybe one or two new locations. However, this time all of the action takes place in Kentucky, and the only constant characters are Harry, Fair, Mrs. Murphy, Pewter, and Tee Tucker. Everyone else is new, and frankly by the end of the story I could care less about what happens to them.
I guess this is one problem with long-running book series — there is an expectation that each book will be as good as or better than the last one, but sometimes the author can’t deliver on that promise.
Yesterday I came home to find my recent Amazon order had arrived. Last week while browsing LibraryThing, I discovered a new book in one of my favorite mystery series, so I pre-ordered it. It was officially released the next day. I’ve never done this before, but I’ve started collecting this series in hardcover and I decided to treat myself to a brand new tome.
Anyway. New book arrived yesterday. I finally had a chance to crack it open at 10:30pm, thinking I’d read until midnight and then finish this evening. As if. Check the time stamp on this post. I’m gonna need a grande latte when I wake up. Possibly with an extra shot.
Sour Puss is the latest in the collaboration between Sneaky Pie Brown and her person, Rita Mae Brown. As with the previous books in the series, the authors take time to set the scene, refresh our memories of the old characters, and introduce us to the new characters. The action doesn’t happen until the penultimate chapter, but Mrs. Murphy fans have come to expect that. We like spending time with our friends and family for a while before we have to get our
paws hands dirty with some icky murder.
The back story deals with current events and concerns regarding bioterrorism. H5N1 makes a brief appearance, as well as theories about biological weapons used by Iraq in Desert Storm. Most important to the plot is the Supreme Court decision striking down state laws that prohibit direct sales of wines to out-of-state customers. Wine drinkers rejoice.