cover image Murder at Monticello

Murder at Monticello

Rita Mae Brown. Bantam Books, $19.95 (298pp) ISBN 978-0-553-08140-4

Ailurophiles will purr as the inimitable Sneaky Pie Brown and her human coauthor, Rita Mae, return in their third adventure (after Rest in Pieces). Drawing deftly on archeological investigations at Thomas Jefferson's beloved Monticello, the Browns open with the discovery of the remains of a well-to-do Caucasian male, dated to 1803, beneath the hearth of a slave's cabin. Mary Minor (``Harry'') Haristeen, postmistress of nearby Crozet, Va., and other friends of Monticello search for the man's identity in historical and genealogical papers, unaware that their investigations will bring them perilously close to a modern secret so closely guarded that someone has already killed to protect it. The animals, as usual, crack the case. Mrs. Murphy, a gray tiger, teams up with Welsh corgi Tee Tucker, fat cat Pewter and her ex-mate, tomcat Paddy Murphy, to bring to light a set of long lost journals linking past and present. Once again, Mrs. Murphy has the last word on the pathetic human condition. ``You know, humans believe in things that aren't real. We don't,'' she observes. ``It doesn't matter if a cat is black or white as long as it catches mice.'' (Nov.)