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    Review of THE PURRFECT MURDER by Rita Mae Brown & Sneaky Pie Brown (see their website)


    Bantam, January 2008

    Even rural Virginia can't escape from the larger issues confronting the U.S. And when a planned parenthood doctor is murdered, the issue of abortion comes up. Little Min and Big Min spiral into conflict with Republican Little Min refusing to condemn the murder--or to defend a woman's right to choose. Meanwhile, the police arrest an anti-abortion activist who quickly confesses to the crime, but Harry Haristeen and her pets wonders whether things really are that simple.

    At a fund-raising dinner, the other shoe falls when a prominent socialite is murdered and Harry's friend, Tazio, is an immediate suspect. Harry is sure her friend is innocent, but the evidence--they found the bloody knife in her hand--will be hard to argue against. Especially when Harry's pets learn that rats destroyed clues that might have exhonorated Tazio. Still, Harry does have one clue--the corrupt construction code enforcer, Mike, is withholding secrets. Could murder be one of those?

    Authors Rita Mae Brown and Sneaky Pie Brown (see more reviews of mysteries by Brown and Brown) continue their Mrs. Murphy cat detective series with an engagingly written story. With their strong opinions and certainty that their way is the correct way, Harry and her friends may offend some readers (in fact, maybe they'll offend all readers since they mix progressive views on abortion with strange thoughts on slavery (maybe it would have died out on its own if it hadn't been for the Civil War)), but at least the Brown team puts their characters in a world where issues like abortion and the disaster in Iraq exist.

    Over the past several books in this series, the Browns have been looking at social issues. Change comes slowly to the rural south, but even there, reason has begun to stand up against religious bigotry. The Browns are careful, though, to show religion in a positive light, with Bible quotations and the local minister both playing major roles. From a mystery perspective, I would have preferred to have a more ordered sleuthing process--with Harry actually finding clues that led her into danger rather than leaping with just a feeling. The talking animals (they only talk among themselves and with the wild animals) are mostly charming.

    Two Stars

    Reviewed 4/20/08

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