It takes a cat to write the purr-fect mystery.Things have been pretty exciting lately in Crozet, Virginia--a little too exciting if you ask resident feline investigator Mrs. Murphy. Just as the town starts to buzz over its Civil War reenactment, a popular local man disappears. No one's seen Tommy Van Allen's single-engine plane, either--except for Mrs. Murphy, who spotted it during a foggy evening's mousing.
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December 31, 1998
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Excerpt from Cat on the Scent by Rita Mae Brown
The intoxicating fragrance of lilacs floated across the meadow grass. Mrs. Murphy was night hunting in and around the abandoned dependencies on old Tally Urquhart's farm, Rose Hill. Once a great estate, the farm's main part continued to be kept in pristine condition. A combination of old age plus spiraling taxes, and wages forced Thalia "Tally" Urquhart, as well as others like her, to let outlying buildings go.
A huge stone hay barn with a center aisle big enough to house four hay wagons side by side sat in the middle of small one-and-a-half-story stone houses with slate roofs. The buildings, although pockmarked by broken windows, were so well constructed they would endure despite the birds nesting in their chimneys.
The hay barn, whose supporting beams were constructed from entire tree trunks, would outlast this century and the next one as well.
The paint peeled off the stone buildings, exposing the soft gray underneath with an occasional flash of rose-gray.
The tiger cat sniffed the air; low clouds and fog were moving in fast from the west, sliding down the Blue Ridge Mountains like fudge on a sundae.
Normally Mrs. Murphy would hunt close to her own farm. Often she was accompanied by Pewter, who despite her bulk was a ferocious mouser. This evening she wanted to hunt alone. It cleared her mind. She liked to wait motionless for mice to scurry in the rotting burlap feed bags, for their tiny claws to tap against the beams in the hayloft.
Since no one paid attention to the Urquhart barns, the mousing was superb. Kernels of grain and dried corn drew the little marauders in, as did the barn itself, a splendid place in which to raise young mice.