Friday, October 12, 2007

Pawing Through the Past by Rita Mae Brown

Rita Mae Brown is a prolific author. This is the eighth book in the Sneaky Pie Mystery series. One thing that has always amazed me about Brown is her ability to write such a traditional cozy style mystery complete with cats. After all, her earlier works were anything but traditional and mainstream. That the same person could pen Venus Envy, Rubyfruit Jungle, and a mystery series set in rural Virginia where two cats and a dog solve the mysteries is a testament to Brown’s diversity. Upon thinking about it more, though, there are some common themes that emerge in her various books. As her mysteries are solved there is often a stark social commentary about what would cause a person to turn to violence.

I read Brown’s stories because they are like coming home – you know what to expect, there is nothing too shocking, and they are easy. She’s a good writer and the stories while not overly obvious are also not trying to twist and turn just to keep the reader guessing. Also, by the eighth book I have a vested interest in the characters. The relationship between Harry and Miranda is quaint. The on again/off again feelings between Harry and Fair are realistic. I like the addition of Tracy who she introduced in this book.

Reading Brown’s work I am often amused by her descriptions of Virginia. Having lived there, I find some of the portrayals apropos. But, I must say her take on Virginia winters make me laugh. Having lived there for six years I never remember a snow storm that lasted more than a few days and even then it was rarely enough to keep cars off the road. Now maybe it was that much worse 20 miles away in the mountains, but I sometimes wonder if her winter scenes are poetic license to create the necessary plot points for the murder and denouement.

If you want something light, you enjoy animals and want an amusing take on what they are thinking and saying, and you like solving mysteries, pick up Brown’s Sneaky Pie Mystery series. They don’t disappoint.

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