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    Review of THE TAIL OF THE TIP-OFF by Rita Mae Brown (see her website) & Sneaky Pie Brown


    Bantam Books, 2003

    Life in rural Virginia seems simple, committee meetings to determine whether the church can afford new carpeting, snowfall, University of Virginia woman's basketball, and casual meetings of women to discuss the weather, children, and relationships. But these superficial goings on don't completely hide the reality of adultery, crime, and murder. When post office manager Harry Harristeen sees a construction contractor die of an apparent heart attack, and then learns that it was a cleverly disguised murder, she resolves to find out the truth. Harry is aided in her relentless curiosity by her two cats and one dog, all superhumanly intelligent but saddened by humans' inability to understand what they say oh too clearly.

    Harry has her own problems--problems relating to her ex-husband, Fair, and the woman that Fair once had an affair with (Boomboom). She can't get Fair's unfaithfulness out of her system, but she doesn't want to let him go either. As for Boomboom, Harry likes to believe the worst of her, despite Boomboom's assurances that the affair happened only after Harry and Fair had separated.

    Author Rita Mae Brown (see more reviews of novels by Brown) along with her cat, Sneaky Pie Brown create a compelling tone of rural life and death. Brown details a social structure that seems to have survived intact from pre-civil war days with women dominating the important events of the society and men providing entertainment and heartache. Pets, of course, are hugely important and the animal insights into humanity, religion, and nature, add to the enjoyment.

    Brown resrains her pets in this story--there are no pet-driven vehicles, for example, but the animals manage to save the day once again as Harry's impetuous curiosity comes close to getting her killed.

    Three Stars

    Reviewed 3/26/03

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