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The Litter of the Law

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The Litter of the Law

Mrs. Murphy Mystery Series, Book 22
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Rita Mae Brown collaborates with feline co-author Sneaky Pie Brown in a new mystery starring Mary Minor "Harry" Haristeen, the curious cat detectives Mrs. Murphy and Pewter, and Tee Tucker, the valiant...
Rita Mae Brown collaborates with feline co-author Sneaky Pie Brown in a new mystery starring Mary Minor "Harry" Haristeen, the curious cat detectives Mrs. Murphy and Pewter, and Tee Tucker, the valiant...
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  • Rita Mae Brown collaborates with feline co-author Sneaky Pie Brown in a new mystery starring Mary Minor "Harry" Haristeen, the curious cat detectives Mrs. Murphy and Pewter, and Tee Tucker, the valiant crime-solving corgi. Halloween arrives early this year to rural central Virginia, when a twisted killer will stop at nothing to protect a multimillion-dollar scheme.


    Autumn has descended and crops are being harvested all over Crozet, Virginia, ideal conditions for a scenic drive for Harry and husband Fair. Bucolic views are all well and good, but Harry's nose for trouble leads her straight to a cornfield's macabre scarecrow--an all too real murder victim that frightens all but the noisy crows.

    This accountant's gruesome death is only the first of many disturbing events in this normally pastoral corner of the world. While Harry tends her beloved grapes and sunflowers, a killer edges closer--as does Harry's protective menagerie of animals.

    Halloween's approach brings with it bona fide terror and a beloved local tradition that threatens to become fatal. Rooting out the guilty in the treacherous center of a lucrative conspiracy requires Harry's farmer's wisdom--along with the quick wits and extraordinary senses of Sneaky Pie, Pewter, and Tucker. A vicious murderer may know the lay of the land far better than Harry does, but that's about to change. It's up to her vigilant four-footed companions to make sure that the unearthing of this plot is not Harry's last act.

    Praise for The Litter of the Law and the Mrs. Murphy mysteries

    "As feline collaborators go, you couldn't ask for better than Sneaky Pie Brown."--The New York Times Book Review

    "Enchanting . . . Brown demonstrates once again why she's the queen of the talking animal cozy subgenre."--Publishers Weekly

    "As usual, the smart animals provide clues without getting in the way of the human interactions and plot. This is a strong addition to the popular series."--Booklist

    From the Hardcover edition.

  • Chapter 1

    Fair Haristeen, doctor of veterinary medicine, and his wife, Mary Minor "Harry" Haristeen, loved to steal a Saturday and cruise the back roads of central Virginia. It reminded them of their courting days, back in high school, when Fair, bruised from Friday night's football game, would pick up Harry, dirty from the stable, and they'd drive around in his 1958 Chevy pickup. Now, over two decades later, Fair was at the wheel of their station wagon, Harry beside him, the pets in the back seat, as they rode through the countryside.

    Mrs. Murphy, the tiger cat, Pewter, her gray, overweight sidekick, and Tucker, the corgi, usually accompanied their people everywhere except in high heat. On a mild day like today, windows down a crack, the three could sleep or chat while the humans talked.

    "Perfect weather," Fair declared.

    October 12 was indeed a ravishing fall day--­early fall, for the summer warmth lingered late this year. Forests looked spray-­painted with yellow, orange, flaming red, deep red, old gold.

    "Hey, Miranda got the respiratory flu." Harry mentioned a former co-­worker and dear friend. "She's swearing that drinking electrolytes will cure her. She saw it on TV."

    Fair shook his head. "Electrolytes will help, but our beloved Miranda seems susceptible to quacks."

    Watching the passing scenery, Pewter noticed a lovely yellow clapboard farmhouse. "Quack--­duck. Why call a crook a quack?"

    "I don't know," Tucker replied. The corgi was well used to Pewter's inquiring mind. "They also use the term 'snake oil.' A quack sells snake oil. It's confusing."

    "Ha!" Pewter whooped. "If they'll buy snake oil, maybe we can get them hooked on catnip."

    "Humans don't sniff catnip," Tucker replied with dignity.

    "They can learn." The gray cat spoke with conviction.

    "Pewter, sometimes I think you're cracked as well as fat," the dog unwisely said.

    "Fat!" Pewter raged.

    "You need a seat all your own. Every time we take a turn, the flab on your belly sways," Tucker teased.

    Pewter lashed out, a quick right to the shoulder.

    Tucker growled, showing her fangs.

    "That is enough!" Harry turned around.

    "I haven't done a thing." Mrs. Murphy distanced herself from the combatants, who now rounded on her.

    "Brown-­noser!" Pewter whacked the tiger cat, who gave as good as she got.

    The hissing and barking irritated Fair to the point where he pulled over to the side of the road, near where Hester Martin's vegetable and fruit stand was located.

    Harry got out of the car, opened the back door. "I am going to give you such a smack."

    All three animals jumped to the far back of the Volvo station wagon. Harry walked around to the rear of the car and opened the hatch door; the animals jumped back into their original seats.

    Slamming both doors shut, Harry cursed as Fair couldn't help but laugh. She walked over to the driver's side; he had the window down.

    "They know how to pluck your last nerve," said Fair, laughing.

    "Yours, too. I'm not the one who pulled the car over." Harry looked down the road at the produce stand, a small white clapboard building with a large overhang, goods displayed in orderly, colorful rows. "Hey, let's get some pattypan squash. Bet Hester still has some." She walked around the car, getting in the passenger side before turning to face her animal tormentors. "If I hear one peep, one sniff, one hiss while I am shopping, no food tonight. Got it?"

    "Hateful." Pewter turned her back on Harry.

    As Tucker hung her head, Mrs. Murphy, the tiger cat, loudly defended herself. "I didn't do one thing."

    "Of course...

About the Author-
  • Rita Mae Brown is the bestselling author of the Sneaky Pie Brown series; the Sister Jane series; the first two books in her new canine mystery series: A Nose for Justice and Murder Unleashed; Rubyfruit Jungle; In Her Day; and Six of One, as well as several other novels. An Emmy-nominated screenwriter and a poet, Brown lives in Afton, Virginia.

    Sneaky Pie Brown, a tiger cat born somewhere in Albemarle County, Virginia, was discovered by Rita Mae Brown at her local SPCA. They have collaborated on twenty previous Mrs. Murphy mysteries: Wish You Were Here; Rest in Pieces; Murder at Monticello; Pay Dirt; Murder, She Meowed; Murder on the Prowl; Cat on the Scent; Pawing Through the Past; Claws and Effect; Catch as Cat Can; The Tail of the Tip-Off; Whisker of Evil; Cat's Eyewitness; Sour Puss; Puss 'n Cahoots; The Purrfect Murder; Santa Clawed; Cat of the Century; Hiss of Death; and The Big Cat Nap; in addition to Sneaky Pie for President and Sneaky Pie's Cookbook for Mystery Lovers.

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    Random House Publishing Group
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