Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Nine Lives to Die

Author: Rita Mae Brown
Genre:  Mystery

Five Stars

Winter has come to Crozet, Virginia, bringing with it a fresh blanket of snow. Harry and her husband, Fair, are hip deep in their usual end-of-the-year activities: distributing food to needy residents, and shopping for outfits for the Silver Linings youth organization’s annual fundraising gala. But buried beneath the white stuff are dark secrets from Crozet’s past—and Harry and her posse of pet detectives are determined to sniff them out.

Two Silver Linings mentors have been found dead in suspicious circumstances. If that weren’t enough to chill the bones of the locals, a pair of severed human fingers has turned up in a pencil jar in the bookkeeper’s office at St. Cyril’s church. What does this grisly display have to do with the mysterious disappearance of Harry’s voluptuous high school Latin teacher, a quarter of a century ago? Maybe nothing. But when the animals make another gruesome discovery in the woods behind Harry’s farm, it becomes clear that terrible crimes have been committed in Crozet—and somebody’s gone to great lengths to cover them up. It’s time to stop shoveling snow and start digging for clues.

The truth will be revealed.  A cold case will be solved. And a twenty-five-year-old love triangle is about to get untangled. The weather outside may be frightful, but Harry and her four-legged friends refuse to be spooked off the case.


Harry Haristeen and her friends are preparing for Christmas by packaging food and goods to deliver to the needy around them.  With the holiday fast approaching, the women are on a tight schedule, and the weather isn't cooperating, turning cold and snowy.

One night after Harry and her vet husband, Fair, attend a fundraiser for the church, her friend Charlene's husband disappears.  When the local deputy Cooper receives a call from a motorist, she arrives to find Charlene's husband Pete dead - and with two of his fingers missing.  While unofficially deemed a heart attack, officially the police discover it's a murder.  When another man turns up missing and is killed the same way, the police are completely sure.

To complicate matters, Harry's animal friends Mrs. Murphy, Pewter and Tee Tucker find a Christmas present for Harry - one that fell off the arm of a skeleton.  When a coyote tells them where the rest of the bones are (after they promise to feed him for the winter), they discover what used to be a living, breathing person - and a mystery that's been secret for 25 years.

So while the police are trying to solve one murder another old one will soon be discovered and also must be solved.  While Harry and her friends are trying to do their best for everyone during the holiday season, things are said and seen that can't be undone, and lead to something deeper and darker.

There are really no clues given as to the murderer of the two men, so like Harry and her friends, you struggle along looking for clues right with them.  For myself, I was more interested in the old murder, and when the truth came out, I can't say I was completely surprised, but the journey getting there was indeed worth the effort.

A top-notch novel from a top-notch author.  Ms. Brown has given us an intriguing, semi-dark novel of friends, betrayal, secrets and murder.   Highly recommended.


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