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    Review of CAT'S EYEWITNESS by Rita Mae Brown & Sneaky Pie Brown (see their website)**


    Bantam, January 2005

    After quitting her job at the post office, Mary Minor (Harry) Haristeen worries about money, about whether to re-marry Fair, and about her friend Susan's fears about her own marriage. While visiting a monestary in the mountains over Harry's Virginia farm, they notice that the statue of the Virgin Mary is shedding tears of blood.

    An authentic Virgin Mary miracle is big news and looks like it'll make the career for a local TV reporter--one who happens to have a thing for Boom-Boom. Instead, a monk is found dead, praying at the statue--and more death is to follow. The humans think the monk simply had a heart attack, but the animals know better--a friendly cardinal (the avian kind, not the kind in Rome) lets Harry's cats and dog know that the monk was murdered.

    Working through the mystery takes time--especially with the holiday season on them, with Boom-Boom's growing relationship with Alicia, Little Mim's upcoming engagement announcement, and Fair's sudden deadline for Harry to decide whether to accept his proposal. Meanwhile, the pilgrims are coming to Virginia to pay their respects to the miracle of the Virgin--and to pray for miracles in their own life.

    Author Rita Mae Brown (see more reviews of novels by Brown) (co-writing with her cat, Sneaky Pie Brown) takes some chances in this story. CAT'S EYEWITNESS is far more about the people than the animals, and far more about the evolving relationships among the women in Harry's group than about murder and death. The evolving (non-explicit) lesbian relationship between Boom-Boom and Alicia is certain to raise a few eyebrows. Brown's conflicted messages on the meaning of Christianity will raise more.

    I admore Rita Mae Brown for stretching her writing when she could easily have written another light mystery. While her experiment is not a complete success and her writing (maybe it was the cat's fault) is too-frequently clunky and over-explained, I like the direction Brown is taking and look forward to seeing where she takes it in upcoming stories.

    Two Stars

    Reviewed 4/16/05

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