The residents of tiny Crozet, Virginia, thrive on gossip, especially in the post office, where Mary Minor "Harry" Haristeen presides with her tiger cat, Mrs. Murphy. So when a belligerent Hell's Angel crashes Crozet, demanding to see his girlfriend, the leather-clad interloper quickly becomes the chief topic of conversation. Then the biker is found murdered, and everyone is baffled. Well, almost everyone...Mrs. Murphy and her friends, Welsh corgi Tee Tucker and overweight feline Pewter, haven't been slinking through alleys for nothing. But can they dig up the truth in time to save their humans from a ruthless killer From the Paperback edition.
Continued collaboration between Brown and her cat, as series hero Mrs. Murphy (also a feline) must solve the murder of a biker and the theft of $30 million from local banks. (Oct.) -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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May 02, 2005
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Excerpt from Pay Dirt by Rita Mae Brown
Cozy was the word used most often to describe the small town of Crozet, not quaint, historic, or pretty. Central Virginia in general, and Albemarle County in particular, abounded in quaint, historic, and pretty places, but Crozet was not one of them. A homey energy blanketed the community. Many families had lived there for generations, others were newcomers attracted to the sensuous appeal of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Old or new, rich or poor, black or white, the citizens of the town nodded and waved to one another while driving their cars, called and waved if on opposite sides of the street, and anyone walking along the side of the road was sure to get the offer of a ride. Backyard hedges provided the ideal setting for enriching gossip as gardeners took respite from their labors. Who did what to whom, who said what to whom, who owed money to whom, and, that glory of chat, who slept with whom. The buzz never stopped. Even in the deepest snows, a Crozetian would pick up the phone to transmit the latest. If it was really juicy, he or she would bundle up and hurry through the snow for a hot cup of coffee, that companion to steamy gossip shared with a friend.
The hub of the town consisted of its post office, the three main churches -- Lutheran, Baptist, Episcopal, and one small offshoot, the Church of the Holy Light -- the schools -- kindergarten through twelfth -- Market Shiflett's small grocery store, and Crozet Pizza. Since a person worshiped at one church at a time, the goings-on in the other three might remain a mystery. The small market provided a handsome opportunity to catch up, but you really had to buy something. Also, one had to be careful that Market's fat gray cat, Pewter, didn't steal your food before you had the chance to eat it. Schools were a good source, too, but if you were childless or if your darlings were finally in college, you were out of that pipeline. This left the post office the dubious honor of being the premier meeting place, or Gossip Central.
The postmistress -- a title which she preferred to the official one of postmaster -- Mary Minor Haristeen rarely indulged in what she termed gossip, which is to say if she couldn't substantiate a story, she didn't repeat it. Otherwise, she was only too happy to pass on the news. Her unofficial assistant, Mrs. Miranda Hogendobber, the widow of the former postmaster, relished the "news," but she drew the line at character assassination. If people started dumping all over someone else, Mrs. Hogendobber usually calmed them down or plain shut them up.