Rest in Pieces

Rita Mae Brown, Author, Wendy Wray, Illustrator, Sneaky Pie Brown, With Bantam Books $20 (0p) ISBN 978-0-553-07728-5
Mystery fans who dote on their pets will welcome this second tale of murder co-authored by Brown and her cat, Sneaky Pie. A follow-up to the duo's Wish You Were Here, it reintroduces characters and settings in the tiny town of Crozet, Va. Central to the tale are postmistress and knowledgeable farmhand Mary Minor Haristeen (Harry), her cat Mrs. Murphy and her Welsh corgi Tee Tucker. Mrs. Murphy, as it happens, ``bears an uncanny resemblance to authoress Sneaky Pie,'' and virtually every reference to her is amusingly flattering. Other key Crozet denizens include the nosy, well-meaning widow Mrs. Hoggendobber; the haughty, monied Sanburne family; Harry's ex-husband and his new love interest, a woman nicknamed ``Boom Boom.'' Gossip is at a low ebb in Crozet until male model Blair Bainbridge moves to the farm bordering Harry's. Matchmakers start to buzz, but they are rudely interrupted when assorted parts of a dismembered body are found on Blair's land. The animals, whose speech is italicized in the text and generally misunderstood by humans, form their own hypotheses about the murder, and naturally have a hand/paw in solving the crime. The Browns expertly depict small-town life, detailing holiday parties, a fox hunt and Harry's chores during a bucolic winter. Although talking, sleuthing animals may seem cloying to serious folk, this is in actuality a spooky, baffling tale complete with (Rita Mae) Brown's trademark surprise ending. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 08/03/1992
Release date: 08/01/1992
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