Curiosity just might be the death of Mrs. Murphy--and her human companion, Mary Minor "Harry" Haristeen. Small towns are like families: Everyone lives very close together. . .and everyone keeps secrets. Crozet, Virginia, is a typical small town-until its secrets explode into murder.
Webb was the editor at Britain's Pan Books who bought the book rights to Adams's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy in 1978, back when it was a hit radio show on the BBC. While Webb didn't have much to do with Adams professionally after that, the two remained friendly until Adams's death, at age 49, in 2001, and that closeness pervades this authorized biography and its conversational tone. That doesn't mean the story is sugarcoated; Adams is occasionally chided for his emotional thickness, and Webb deals frankly with the consequences of his chronic slowness as a writer (one Hitchhiker novel was produced only when his editor, Sonny Mehta, booked a hotel room and sat with him as he turned out the pages). Another section addresses the thorny issue of who contributed what to the zany plot line of the radio series and how Adams's collaborator, John Lloyd, was nudged out of the book deal. For the most part, however, Webb genially celebrates Adams's comic talent and zest for life, aiming his account squarely at the large Hitchhiker fan base with occasional overtures to readers who don't necessarily know every nuance of the trilogy. It might be overstating matters to suggest that "before Douglas nobody had been cosmically funny," but Webb's tribute makes it easy to see why those who knew Adams admired him so greatly. Agent, Ed Victor Agency. (On sale Mar. 29) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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December 31, 1989
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Excerpt from Wish You Were Here by Rita Mae Brown
Mary Minor Haristeen, Harry to her friends, trotted along the railroad track. Following at her heels were Mrs. Murphy, her wise and willful tiger cat, and Tee Tucker, her Welsh corgi. Had you asked the cat and the dog they would have told you that Harry belonged to them, not vice versa, but there was no doubt that Harry belonged to the little town of Crozet, Virginia. At thirty-three she was the youngest postmistress Crozet had ever had, but then no one else really wanted the job.
Crozet nestles in the haunches of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The town proper consists of Railroad Avenue, which parallels the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad track, and a street intersecting it called the Whitehall Road. Ten miles to the east reposes the rich and powerful small city of Charlottesville, which, like a golden fungus, is spreading east, west, north, and south. Harry liked Charlottesville just fine. It was the developers she didn't much like, and she prayed nightly they'd continue to think of Crozet and its three thousand inhabitants as a dinky little whistle stop on the route west and ignore it.
A gray clapboard building with white trim, next to the rail depot, housed the post office. Next to that was a tiny grocery store and a butcher shop run by "Market" Shiflett. Everyone appreciated this convenience because you could pick up your milk, mail, and gossip in one central location.
Harry unlocked the door and stepped inside just as the huge railroad clock chimed seven beats for 7:00 a.m. Mrs. Murphy scooted under her feet and Tucker entered at a more leisurely pace.
An empty mail bin invited Mrs. Murphy. She hopped in. Tucker complained that she couldn't jump in.
"Tucker, hush. Mrs. Murphy will be out in a minute--won't you " Harry leaned over the bin.
Mrs. Murphy stared right back up at her and said, "Fat chance. Let Tucker bitch. She stole my catnip sockie this morning."