cover image THE TAIL OF THE TIP-OFF: A Mrs. Murphy Mystery

THE TAIL OF THE TIP-OFF: A Mrs. Murphy Mystery

Rita Mae Brown, . . Bantam, $24.95 (320pp) ISBN 978-0-553-80158-3

You don't have to be a cat lover to enjoy Brown's 11th Mrs. Murphy novel (after 2002's Catch as Cat Can), which centers on the "Clam," the University of Virginia's giant sports complex. After a women's basketball game, construction company owner H.H. Donaldson falls dead in the parking lot. The police and Crozet, Va., postmistress Mary Minor (Harry) Hairsteen are barely into trying to find out who killed H.H.—and how—when a second mysterious death occurs at the arena. While Harry snoops around, her cats, Mrs. Murphy and Pewter, and corgi, Tucker, do their best to help and protect their mistress. Thinking and talking pets may not be to every taste, but Brown writes so compellingly of the sprightly residents of the Virginia Piedmont, both human and animal, that you have to be a real curmudgeon not to be won over. The author breathes believability into every aspect of this smart and sassy novel. (Mar. 4)

Forecast:National print advertising, public radio sponsorship announcements and a simultaneous e-book release all augur another run up bestseller lists.