Mrs. Murphy thinks the new man in town is the cat's meow.... Maybe she should think again. Small towns don't take kindly to strangers--unless the stranger happens to be a drop-dead gorgeous and seemingly unattached male. When Blair Bainbridge comes to Crozet, Virginia, the local matchmakers lose no time in declaring him perfect for their newly divorced postmistress, Marry Minor "Harry Haristeen." Even Harry's tiger cat, Ms. Murphy, and her Welsh Corgi, Tee Tucker, believe he smells A-okay. Could his one little imperfection be that he's a killer Blair becomes the most likely suspect when the pieces of a dismembered corpse begin tuming up around Crozet.
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December 31, 1991
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Excerpt from Rest in Pieces by Rita Mae Brown
Golden light poured over the little town of Crozet, Virginia. Mary Minor Haristeen looked up from the envelopes she was sorting and then walked over to the large glass window to admire the view. It seemed to her as if the entire town had been drenched in butter. The rooftops shone; the simple clapboard buildings were lent a pleasing grace. Harry was so compelled by the quality of the light that she threw on her denim jacket and walked out the back door. Mrs. Murphy, Harry's tiger cat, and Tee Tucker, her corgi, roused themselves from a drowsy afternoon slumber to accompany her. The long October rays of the sun gilded the large trotting-horse weathervane on Miranda Hogendobber's house on St. George Avenue, seen from the alleyway behind the post office.
Brilliant fall days brought back memories of hotly contested football games, school crushes, and cool nights. Much as Harry loathed cold weather, she liked having to buy a new sweater or two. At Crozet High she had worn a fuzzy red sweater one long-ago October day, in 1973 to be exact, and caught the eye of Fair Haristeen. Oak trees transformed into orange torches, the maples turned blood-red, and the beech trees became yellow, then as now. Autumn colors remained in her memory, and this would be that kind of fall. Her divorce from Fair had been final six months ago, or was it a year She really couldn't remember, or perhaps she didn't want to remember. Her friends ransacked their address books for the names of eligible bachelors. There were two: Dr. Larry Johnson, the retired, widowed town doctor, who was two years older than God, and the other, of course, was Pharamond Haristeen. Even if she wanted Fair back, which she most certainly did not, he was embroiled in a romance with BoomBoom Craycroft, the beautiful thirty-two-year-old widow of Kelly Craycroft.
Harry mused that everyone in town had nicknames. Olivia was BoomBoom, and Pharamond was Fair. She was Harry, and Peter Shiflett, who owned the market next door, was called Market. Cabell Hall, president of the Allied National Bank in Richmond, was Cab or Cabby; his wife of twenty-seven years, Florence, was dubbed Taxi. The Marilyn Sanburnes, senior and junior, were Big Marilyn, or Mim, and Little Marilyn respectively. How close it made everyone feel, these little monikers, these tokens of intimacy, nicknames. Crozet folks laughed at their neighbors' habits, predicting who would say what to whom and when. These were the joys of a small town, yet they masked the same problems and pain, the same cruelties, injustice, and self-destructive behavior found on a larger scale in Charlottesville, fourteen miles to the east, or Richmond, seventy miles beyond Charlottesville. The veneer of civilization, so essential to daily life, could easily be dissolved by crisis. Sometimes it didn't even take a crisis: Dad came home drunk and beat the living shit out of his wife and children, or a husband arrived home early from work to his heavily mortgaged abode and found his wife in bed with another man. Oh, it couldn't happen in Crozet but it did. Harry knew it did. After all, a post office is the nerve center of any community and she knew, usually before others, what went on when the doors were closed and the lights switched off. A flurry of legal letters might cram a box, or a strange medley of dental bills, and as Harry sorted the mail she would piece together the stories hidden from view.