Rita Mae Brown and Sneaky Pie Brown, 1990 – Mrs. Murphy series #1
This book wasn’t good enough to actively seek out the next book in the series, but if I found a copy at a yard sale I’d buy it for a quarter.
Sneaky Pie Brown, who is supposed to be the author of this book, is a cat. Main character Mrs. Murphy is also a cat. Both Mrs. Murphy and her corgi ‘sister’ Tee Tucker belong to Mary Minor Haristeen (Harry for short), local postmistress in a very small Virginia town.
It’s weird that sentient animals solve crimes, but I’m completely baffled by the author and publisher deciding that it would be good plan to write books while pretending to be a cat.
As I read the book, I got used to the weirdness. Since I mistakenly read a review with a spoiler, I knew who the killer was from page one, so I can’t address the story’s whodunit aspect. The human characters are pretty similar to any other late 20th-century small-town American cozy, and the animals are oddly angst-riddled. In a prescient passage, Mrs. Murphy and Tee Tucker discuss how humans are ruining their planet. Tee Tucker shares how she culls her young by killing her puppies that are sick or deformed, and she wonders why humans don’t do the same. That Sneaky Pie is, indeed, sneaky in sliding these ideas into anotherwise regular cozy.
When I read a cozy mystery I am engaged by humor, eccentric characters, or a particularly well-crafted world, all of which are present, but largely diluted. While this story is readable, I wouldn’t recommend it to others unless they said “Hey. I want to read a book written by a cat about a cat who solves mysteries.”