Friday, March 28, 2008

Full Cry by Rita Mae Brown

Rita Mae Brown is a prolific and varied author. Her Sneaky Pie mystery series is a light fun cozy series. Her early books were very marked social commentary. Her hunting series, of which Full Cry is third installment, is an interesting blend of her two other styles. It is a cozy mystery - there is no excessive blood, you spend the book working with the main character to discover who the villain is, and you learn a bit about something in the meantime. But, it also has some sharp social digs worked into the dialogue.
The main character, Sister Jane Arnold is a feisty 70 year old Master of the Hunt for her fox hunting team. At her age and based on her life experience she is not afraid to say exactly what she thinks. Through the course of the story she waxes poetic about a distinct number of social problems in existence today.
The mystery revolves around the use of illegal steroids by high school and professional athlete. Brown has no qualms about sharing her opinions about the role of drugs on professional paid athletes in today's society. Marital fidelity and the havoc it wrecks on everyone is a common theme in her books. But, Brown also shares her less than traditional views on love and marriage. She often has a gay character who is looking for a relationship. In this book she deals with a multiracial relationship in very open terms. She also does not apologize for her stance that love changes and open marriages or affairs are sometimes the best solution.
Finally, Brown's description of modern day fox hunting is intriguing. She is obviously extremely knowledge of and passionate about the sport. I think the details that she includes is part of why I like this series better than her other series. But, as with her Sneaky Pie books, she includes the lives of the animals - the hounds, the foxes, the horses, even the wildlife - to tell a more complete story about what fox hunting is and how it is conducted.
I didn't expect to get very excited about Full Cry. I thought it would just be a light, mindless read. But in fact it was a pretty good book.

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