October 23, 2015 · 1:47 pm
Tail Gait: A Mrs. Murphy Mystery by Rita Mae Brown & Sneaky Pie Brown (Bantam, $26.00, 307 pages)
“Smartest thing we ever did, separation of church and state, and we can thank Madison for drawing up those Articles for Virginia when we were a colony.” Ginger’s tone brooked no interference, but then the rest agreed on this issue.
Professor Greg “Ginger” McConnell, Emeritus Professor of History at the University of Virginia is a tenacious researcher who has been digging into land ownership matters that must be sensitive to someone who wants to keep the past buried. Ginger is the victim of that someone and he’s found dead in the rough of a golf course by several of his former students.
Tail Gait follows two story threads, one set in the Revolutionary War and the other in 2015. The plight of a brave young British soldier captured by the Americans is contrasted with the murder of the history professor. The locale is Rita Mae Brown’s home turf, Virginia.
Typical of Ms. Brown, there are many teaching moments inserted here and there. Readers familiar with the Sneaky Pie Brown mysteries may be disappointed that the feline Mrs. Murphy and her furry friends are not more prominently featured in the solution to Ginger’s murder.
The two story threads seem unrelated until more than halfway through the book. The reader is left wondering when, if ever, Ms. Brown will get to the point. The writing in both threads is sadly uneven. This reviewer needed to reread passages for clarification. This work is far below the standard earlier set by Brown; thus, it’s not engaging or entertaining. If there’s another book in the series, let’s hope that Mrs. Murphy is returned to her starring role!
A review copy was provided by the publisher.
You can read a review of Cat Striking Back: A Joe Grey Mystery by Shirley Rousseau Murphy here:
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February 3, 2013 · 9:30 am
Cat Bearing Gifts: A Joe Grey Mystery by Shirley Rousseau Murphy (William Morrow, $19.99, 304 pages)
Get ready for another charming tale about talking cat Joe Grey and his pals – both feline and human. This episode focuses on Kit, the cat who has wanderlust in her veins. She and her elderly humans, Lucinda and Pedric Greenlaw, are the victims of some serious road rage. The three of them are nearly killed as Pedric drives home from a lovely visit and shopping spree in San Francisco.
Readers of the series know that the featured town, Molina Point, is a version of Carmel-by-the-Sea, yes, that Carmel where Clint Eastwood was mayor for a time. Anyone learning that a car is traveling on Highway 1 toward Molina Point would immediately know that the car occupies the outside lane. The drop to the Pacific Ocean is abrupt and poor Pedric is driving a huge Lincoln Town Car in the dark!
The scruffy, easy-to-dislike bad guys who are also on their way to Molina Point cause a horrific and deadly collision. The mayhem that ensues brings the spotlight on the feline character, Pan, who has been featured in the most recent Joe Grey mystery with his father, Misto. Kit is his counterpart and when she is lost in the coyote-filled hills above the crash site, Pan is beside himself with worry for her safety. Pedric and Lucinda are injured as might be expected and their welfare is in the hand of the humans with talking cats.
Greed and apathy are the featured evils that must be dealt with in order to bring the Molina Point clan back together safely. As usual there’s plenty of skulking around the quaint neighborhoods, and more than one rooftop race to outwit the bad guys. Author Murphy ties together the human and feline dramas with plenty of friendship, devotion and sleuthing. The heart warming story is a purrfect read during these cold winter months – or during the upcoming weeks of Spring.
A review copy was provided by the publisher. Shirley Rousseau Murphy is also the author of Cat Telling Tales: A Joe Grey Mystery.
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November 17, 2010 · 5:42 pm
Cat Coming Home by Shirley Rousseau Murphy (William Morrow; $19.99; 354 pages)
This latest Joe Grey mystery oozes with picturesque Carmel charm. Shirley Rousseau Murphy extolls the architectural beauty of her coastal hometown in the thinly veiled story location, Molina Point. The plot revolves around Joe, Dulcie and Kit – three cats who speak to their pet parents and sometimes unsuspecting people. The characters in the mystery that the cats solve are a grandma named Maudie, her six-year-old grandson Benny and, of course, the evil doers. It’s not fair to describe the villains as their identities are the key to the mystery. Keep in mind that appearances can be very deceiving!
The story opens with a ghastly double murder that devastates a perfectly lovely family. Benny’s dad, his new wife, her two children, Benny and his grandma are driving up a mountain road on their way to an Easter weekend of relaxation at Lake Arrowhead when a vehicle pulls up alongside them and shoots the dad and stepmom. Chaos follows as their car tumbles off the road and everyone is tossed about. After being rescued, Maudie becomes so distraught that she decides to leave her home in Los Angeles, bringing Benny with her to Molina Point, her childhood home.
Joe Grey and his buddies become part of the story when a series of home invasion crimes occur in Molina Point not long after Maudie and Benny arrive in town. Added to the intrigue is the presence of an older yellow tom cat that lurks nearby and seems to have something important in mind. Kit is fascinated by this stranger and makes it her business to find out what he’s doing in town. Kit’s need for a focus in her life seems to be a continuing thread in these books.
The home invasions are targeted at ladies who are home alone. They are being viciously attacked by intruders, the interiors of their homes are trashed, but not much is stolen. One of the home invasions happens on Maddie’s block. To make matters worse, Molina Point’s dedicated chief of police, Max Harper, is being singled out in the local newspaper for failing to bring the crime wave to a halt. As usual, the cats are quick-witted and fleet of foot as they race around town just a paw or two behind the villains.
Whether the setting for a mystery novel is a big city or a small town, human frailties are usually at the core of the story. This tale (or tail) is no exception. Author Murphy does a wonderful job of developing her characters and providing insight into human nature and feline nature as well. She refrains from rehashing the premise of her Joe Grey series which allows for more action and intrigue.
This review was written by Ruta Arellano. This book was purchased for the reviewer.
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