Cat on the Scent, the seventh mystery co-written by Rita Mae Brown and her feline collaborator Sneaky Pie, features all the traits of purebred fun.
Recently Disney telecast a version of these mysteries, called Murder She Meowed. It was wonderful to hear the voices of Mrs. Murphy and Tucker, the cat and corgi sleuths who bring clues like gifts to their house-sharer, Mary Harry Harristeen. She's the postmistress of Crozet, Virginia, and thus privy to the town's news and gossip (and clues!) when residents pick up their mail. Crozet is shocked when a wealthy resident is shot during a Civil War battle reenactment. Of course Harry and her pets which now include another cat, Pewter get involved in solving the shooting, the first of several to rock the close community.
The sheriff considers the amateur detective a busybody, but concedes a fair amount of past success, little appreciating that her furry friends really deserved the credit. Lassie-like, they uncover and deliver clues, or coax humans to the evidence. Brown gives such intelligence to her animal characters that soon the reader begins looking more to the four-legged for insights into human behavior. The hilarious highlight of the book is a scene straight out of Disney the three animals collaborating to drive a car containing a shooting victim.
The antics of the animals, Brown's witty observations, the history-revering Virginians, and the Blue Ridge setting make this a pleasurable read for lovers of this popular genre. Enjoying it with two dozing cats on your lap, as I did, made it all the more perfect.
George Bauman is the co-owner of Acorn Bookshop in Columbus, Ohio.