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:
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.