cover image Paydirt


Rita Mae Brown. Bantam Books, $21.95 (251pp) ISBN 978-0-553-09603-3

The first word of this fourth collaboration of Rita Mae Brown and her cat (following Murder at Monticello) is, appropriately, the italicized ``Cozy.'' The dog days of summer in sleepy Crozet, Va.-where postmistress Mary Minor Haristeen, aka Harry, lives with her tiger cat, Mrs. Murphy, and her Welsh Corgi, Tee Tucker-are disrupted by a computer virus and the arrival of a drugged-up biker looking for a woman named Malibu. A few days later, the biker turns up murdered. Meanwhile, the computer virus seems to have hit Crozet National Bank, which suffers an inexplicable $2-million shortfall. Harry's stumbling onto a small clue to the bank troubles inadvertently leads to another murder, which is quickly followed by a third. One detects coauthor Sneaky Pie's self-serving little paw as Mrs. Murphy-helped by Tee Tucker and their pal Pewter, the grocer's fat cat-not only leads Harry to the truth about the murders and the money but also rescues her from the killer. As usual, the Browns have fun with a supporting cast of eccentric characters (both two- and four-legged), whose foibles and quirks flavor what is the best Mrs. Murphy adventure yet. Author tour. (Dec.)