cover image Riding Shotgun

Riding Shotgun

Rita Mae Brown. Bantam Books, $22.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-553-09605-7

As a fantastic plot device, time travel doesn't compare in originality to narration by a cat, but Brown's new novel, in which a modern-day Virginian is transported back to 1699, proves every bit as giddily enjoyable as her series of Mrs. Murphy mysteries told by feline extraordinaire Sneaky Pie Brown. Pryor ""Cig"" Blackwood is a middle-aged widow who plays her many roles in life-mother, realtor, horse-farm proprietor and master of the local foxhunt-with simple aplomb and wit. Life hasn't been too much fun, however, since Cig's husband died a year ago-and it gets a lot grimmer when, during a foxhunt, Cig learns that he died naked in her sister's bed. Moments after that revelation, however, she's flung back into Colonial Virginia. There, she's accepted as the twin sister, newly arrived from England, of one of her ancestors, and learns much about the meaning of community and family. She also attracts two dynamic men, one of whom she beds, who fight each another for her affections. Then Cig is thrown back into the present, where she uses her newfound wisdom to reintegrate her life. With its feisty heroine, vivid period detail and well-turned plot twists, this novel is charming enough to make even the cranky Sneaky Pie purr with delight. (Apr.)