In this latest whodunit, Rita Mae Brown and her feline partner-in-crime-detection, Sneaky Pie Brown, return to the scene of their bestselling crimes-picturesque Crozet, Virginia. Love is in the air as spring comes to the small town, but no sooner has Mary Minor "Harry" Haristeen remarried than she is rudely interrupted-by murder. And no sooner does the trouble start than curious cats Mrs. Murphy and Pewter, along with corgi Tee Tucker, sink their claws into the case.... After an unexpected rekindling of their romance, Harry and her veterinarian ex-husband, Fair Haristeen, have happily remarried. But the excitement of their nuptials is quickly overshadowed by the murder of Professor Vincent Forland, a world-famous grape and fungal expert who was in town visiting the local vineyards. Within days of giving a lecture on how distilled fungus and cattle diseases are the current basis of chemical warfare, Forland's decapitated body is discovered. After their initial fright, the residents of Crozet believe that this was a political murder and settle back into their routines-until a local is also found dead, killed in the same gruesome manner as Professor Forland.
The 13th Mrs. Murphy mystery from bestseller Brown and her feline collaborator (after 2005's Cat's Eyewitness) opens with the comic-opera remarriage of series heroine Harry Haristeen and Fair, Harry's veterinarian ex-husband, reintroducing at length some familiar characters before turning to the novel's main focus-the vagaries of the burgeoning wine industry in the Virginia Piedmont. The prospect of having your own label or selling at a profit to another winery is too good to pass up, and even Harry and Fair have put in a quarter acre of Petit Manseng grapes. But someone is trying to scare off the competition, and the disappearance of a respected expert in the mutation of toxins sets Harry's talking pets-cats Mrs. Murphy and Pewter and corgi Tee Tucker-on the sleuthing trail. When a longstanding feud between rival vintners leads to murder, Harry has to read the clues before attrition gives us the answers. Brown provides a captivating look at grape growing and the passionate dedication it requires. (Mar.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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February 28, 2006
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Excerpt from Sour Puss by Rita Mae Brown
"Mary Minor, wilt thou have this man to be thy wedded husband, to live together after God's ordinance, in the holy estate of Matrimony? Wilt thou love him, comfort him, honor and keep him in sickness and in health; and, forsaking all others, keep thee only to him, so long as ye both shall live?"
"I will," Harry answered in a clear voice.
The Reverend Herbert Jones, in his sonorous tone, then asked, "Who giveth this woman to be married to this man?"
Susan Tucker, next to Harry, said, "I do."
Fair, smiling, repeated what he had memorized. "I, Pharamond Haristeen, take thee, Mary Minor, to be my wedded wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part, according to God's holy ordinance; and thereto I plight thee my troth."
Perched on the balcony ledge, Mrs. Murphy, Harry's tiger cat, and Pewter, the roly-poly gray cat, observed intently. Tucker, the corgi, sat on a bench next to Mildred, the organist.
"Finally," the dog sighed.
"They're right for each other." Mrs. Murphy had cat's intuition about such matters.