Pawing Through the Past by Rita Mae Brown

Along with co-author Sneaky-Pie Brown, Rita Mae Brown has penned her way into the hearts and onto the bookshelves of her many loyal readers of her Mrs. Murphy mysteries.

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Pawing Through the Past by Rita Mae Brown


Features

  • Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.98 x 6.95 x 4.22
  • Publisher: Bantam Books; (January 30, 2001)
  • ISBN: 0553580256


    Amazon.com
    When a mystery author claims her cat as coauthor, it's a fairly safe bet that the team won't be producing disturbing psychological thrillers or hard-edged legal procedurals. And indeed, Rita Mae Brown and her cat, Sneaky Pie, have carved out a comfortable niche for themselves in the cozy category, spinning tales (Rest in Pieces; Murder, She Meowed; Cat on the Scent) around the goings-on in Crozet, a small Virginia town where everyone knows everyone else and recipes and gossip are exchanged over the post office counter. Mary Minor Haristeen ("Harry") is Crozet's postmistress and the proud owner of two cats, Mrs. Murphy and Pewter, and one corgi, Tee Tucker--animals with an uncanny ability to sniff out secrets and hidden motives as well as mice and roast beef.

    Pawing Through the Past capitalizes on the myriad subtle relationships that form the backbone of small-town culture, and which Brown and Sneaky Pie have carefully woven throughout the Mrs. Murphy series. In a nicely appropriate nod to that culture's rivalries and alliances, Brown has chosen a high school reunion--traditional hotbed of simmering unease--as her mise-en-scène. When each member of the Crozet High Class of 1980 receives an anonymous note stating, "You'll never get old," most take it as a joke or a compliment. But when the class womanizer turns up with a bullet between his eyes, and more notes--and more bodies--start appearing, Harry and her menagerie find themselves at the center of a revenge plot 20 years in the making.

    Brown's latest is replete with the sly asides that have endeared her to animal lovers--"Cats are by instinct and inclination dedicated anarchists"--and with the naively humorous "conversations" between the animals themselves. When Pewter, watching a team of police officers wrestling a stiff corpse out of a dumpster, wonders, "Why don't they just break his arms and legs?" Murphy replies knowingly, "They'd pass out. Humans are touchy about their dead." Unfortunately, these favorable attributes can't quite mask an incoherent plot, nor Brown's awkwardly pompous social commentary: "By and large, the women looked better than the men, testimony to the cultural pressure for women to fuss over themselves." But Brown's legions of fans will doubtlessly forgive these shortcomings, concentrating instead on the antics of a memorable four-legged and furry trio. --Kelly Flynn --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.



    Reader Reviews
    When animals are people, August 1, 2003 Reviewer: Mary E. Sibley from Carneys Point, NJ USA We are in Crozet, Virginia and the clerk at the post office is nicknamed Harry. A twentieth year reunion is being planned. There is a conceited classmate named Boom Boom who is helping to run the show. Harry, Mary Minor Haristeen, is irritated. Next a particularly obnoxious member of the class, Charlie Ashcraft, turns up dead. Harry's ex-husband Fair helps her to make a downpayment on a new truck. This is a book where two cats and a dog talk to the reader and to each other. We read their contributions in italics. This should not work, but it does. The story improves as one reads on. Initially one fears the whole thing will expire of cuteness. Parallel reunions are going on, and so the author has given herself a vehicle to write of different generations--neat. The dead man had been an egotist. Tracy Raz, newly arrived for one of the reunions, arranges to rent some rooms from Harry at her farm. Tracy is going to be attending the fifty year reunion. Tracy is an old friend of Harry's employer at the post office. A body of another classmate is found in the dumpster of the grocery store next to the post office. The two men were killed in the same manner. The second victim is Leo Burkey. The next death is a suicide. Harry dreads the question at her high school reunion of her failure to achieve greatness. She is going to have to say that she has made a conscious choice to put her inner life ahead of her outer life. Someone is killed at the reunion of twenty years. One of the people present says they could market the idea of murder at the reunion. Oh my, another body is discovered at the school, site of the reunion. At this stage I really do not want to give away more of the plot. Read how the cats end up saving the day. I am impressed. The author has written a good book. She uses the animals well and creatively. Her plotting skills are of the highest order. I would welcome the opportunity to read another title in this series.

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