Top positive review
27 people found this helpful
Refreshing entry in series
on June 21, 2004
The Mrs. Murphy mystery series is like a favorite pair of old slippers. I'll read one no matter what, but I think this particular volume shows new life. Although I don't have the objectivity of someone who has never read any of the books by the team of Rita Mae Brown and Sneaky Pie Brown, I think a newcomer could easily join the club with WHISKER OF EVIL. It defines old characters and references to past events and purveys the strengths of the series. Comparing this book to others in the series and to its genre, it gets 5 stars.
The chief strength I find is that Brown succeeds in satirizing the "cozy" mystery genre at the same time she pays homage to it. She has created some genial though not uncomplicated regular characters and a world that she does not puncture even when shaking things up, which she does considerably this time around. She is realistic (well, as realistic as you get when animals have their own lines of dialogue). What began in her first books as a speck on a rural map of Virginia, the town of Crozet in Albemarle County, has become urbanized rural. Government regulations plague postmistress/heroine Mary ("Harry") Hairsteen. You can see the whole South grappling with its past, present and future through this series. In deceptively simple prose, she conveys a strong sense of how time and the world catch up with the individual.
The mystery itself is predictable. But who really reads or even writes "cozies" as brainteasers? Brown is having a lot of fun. She exercises a lot of knowledge about horse culture and airs her views on growth, government, taxes, ageing, and humanity, not to mention tourists who visit the real town of Crozet and don't find it as cute as they think a setting in a "cozy" should be.