Make Way for Rita Mae Brown - Move Over, Mrs. Murphy! - Dark Streets
One of my favorite mystery series is the Mrs. Murphy series, penned by Rita Mae Brown (and Sneaky Pie Brown, her tabby!)
Mrs. Murphy is the central character in a series of cozy mystery novels by American author Rita Mae Brown. The eponymous character in the series, Mrs. Murphy, is actually the cat of 30-something divorcee Mary Minor “Harry” Haristeen. Together, they solve mysteries in the town of Crozet, Virginia.
Wish You Were Here is the first in Rita Mae Brown and Sneaky Pie Brown’s Mrs. Murphy Mysteries. Crozet, Virginia is a small town full of secrets, which explode when a murder occurs. Mary Minor “Harry” Harristeen is the owner of a tiger cat named Mrs. Murphy, a Welsh Corgi named Tucker and… a pending divorce. She also has the curiosity of a cat and can’t stop reading other people’s postcards. People are being murdered and Harry recalls seeing a postcard with a tombstone that read “Wish you were here” on the back. Quickly, Mrs. Murphy and Tucker are on the case in order to protect their human companion.
This was quickly followed up with REST IN PIECES. 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 turning up around Crozet. No one knows who the dead man is, but when a grisly clue makes
a spectacular appearance in the middle of the fall festivities, more than an early winter snow begins chilling the blood of Crozet's very best people. That's when Ms. Murphy, her friend Tucker, and her human companion Harry begin to sort throughout the clues . . . only to find themselves a whisker away from becoming the killer's next victims.
There are over 20 volumes in this long running series, and believe me, it’s hard to pick a favorite! They are all well-written and the characters are beloved, like your own neighbors or family! If I had to pick a favorite, I might choose SOUR PUSS – probably because there’s also a hint of romance with the remarriage of main character Harry Harristeen and her vet husband Fair.
No longer working in the post office, Harry had just planted a quarter acre of grapes, which fuels her natural curiosity over just what the two murder victims knew and had in common. Once the warmth of spring arrives, the grapevines blossom and Harry’s furry entourage discovers the first critical clue. But how can they show the humans what they’ve learned? And how can they—or anyone—stop the killing?
Part of the charm (for me, anyway) is the way the animals talk in the books, albeit not to humans, but amongst themselves, similar to the way Carole Nelson Douglas’ Midnight Louie behaves. (Although Mrs. Murphy is a much kinder, gentler tabby than Douglas’ rough and tumble Louie!) The beautiful illustrations also enhance the story.
Columnist: Toni LoTempio
While Toni Lotempio does not commit – or solve – murders in real life, she has no trouble doing it on paper. Her lifelong love of mysteries began early on when she was introduced to her first Nancy Drew mystery at age 10 – The Secret in the Old Attic. She lists among her favorite mystery/suspense writers Erle Stanley Gardner, Mary Higgins Clark and James Patterson, as well as EJ Copperman, Steve Hockensmith, Victoria Laurie, Ali Brandon, Rita Mae Brown, Miranda James and Sofie Kelly to name only a few! Toni is also passionate about her love for animals, as demonstrated with her four cats: Trixie, Princess, Maxx and, of course, ROCCO, who not only provided the inspiration for the character of Nick the cat in the Nick and Nora mystery series, but who also writes his own blog and does charity work for Nathan Fillion’s charity, Kids Need to Read! Toni’s also devoted to miniseries like The Thorn Birds, Dancing with the Stars, reruns of Murder She Wrote and Castle (of course!). She (and ROCCO, albeit he’s uncredited) pen the Nick and Nora mystery series from Berkley Prime Crime – the first volume, MEOW IF ITS MURDER, debuts Dec. 2, 2014. She, Rocco and company make their home in Clifton, New Jersey, just twenty minutes from the Big Apple – New York. Find them at: www.catsbooksmorecats.blogspot.com or at www.tclotempio.com