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Whisker of Evil: A Mrs. Murphy Mystery    by Rita Mae Brown & Sneaky Pie Brown Amazon.com order for
Whisker of Evil
by Rita Mae Brown
Order:  USA  Can
Bantam, 2004 (2004)
Hardcover, Audio, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Theresa Ichino

In this latest entry starring Mary Minor 'Harry' Haristeen and her pets, the little town of Crozet, Virginia already suffering from an abnormally high murder rate is now afflicted by what appears to be an outbreak of rabies in the human population. Much to her distress, Harry finds a neighbour who is dying from a mortal wound, apparently inflicted by an animal. The autopsy reveals that Barry Monteith was already dying from rabies. Why then would someone go to the trouble of staging a supposed animal attack? Later, the officious animal control officer is found murdered. Harry and her friends suspect that the nosy and irritating Jerome Stoltfus might have discovered something about the rabies epidemic.

Harry refrains from snooping unduly into the murders, as she is far more interested in an older mystery. Mary Pat had disappeared in 1974. Her body was never found, and her death left scars in many lives. Now Harry has come into possession of the ring that Mary Pat always wore, found by Harry in a creek. Curious as always, Harry undertakes an investigation. Mary Pat had many friends, and the years have not dimmed their affection or their sorrow. Harry's animal friends - cats Mrs. Murphy and Pewter, and Tucker the corgi - join forces as always to guard her back. Much to the animals' dismay, their beloved human will insist on letting her curiosity lead her into danger. With their help, once again Harry roots out the source of the troubles afflicting Crozet.

Much of the appeal of cozies lies in the opportunity to meet old friends. Rita Mae Brown's fans will delight in the charming vignettes featuring Harry's pets and the well-loved animals of Harry's friends. They will also be pleased to meet old human friends like Fair Haristeen (Harry's ex who wishes to regain his place in her life), and Harry's co-worker Miranda. And they will enjoy Brown's pointed jabs at our societal follies, like the media circus that erupts when news of the rabies epidemic breaks. In short, Whisker of Evil is a pleasant read that furthers the developments in Harry's life.

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