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Santa Clawed (Mrs. Murphy Mysteries) Hardcover – November 4, 2008

4.3 out of 5 stars 87 customer reviews
Book 17 of 24 in the Mrs. Murphy Mystery Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Murder casts a shadow over the yuletide cheer in bestseller Brown's 17th Mrs. Murphy mystery (after The Purrfect Murder) to feature Mary Minor "Harry" Haristeen, former postmistress of Crozet, Va. On a visit to the Brothers of Love Christmas tree farm, Harry, her husband and their animal friends are dismayed to stumble on a murdered monk. Someone has cut the throat of Christopher Hewitt, a former insider trader, and placed a Greek coin, an obol, under his tongue (in Greek mythology an obol ensures safe passage to the underworld). Deputy Cynthia Cooper and sheriff Rick Shaw's investigation grows to include the similar murder of Brother Speed, a former jockey. Who's targeting the monks? Next, Harry's almost killed after her wily pets alert her to money hidden on her land. Figuring out whodunit leads the Haristeens and the authorities to a double-edged discovery regarding the root of all evil that fans of the furry detectives and their two-legged pals will appreciate. (Nov.)
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From Booklist

Newly remarried Harry Harristeen, full-time farmer (and amateur sleuth), is excited about the upcoming holidays, but her spirits are dashed when she finds a dead monk at the Christmas-tree farm. Of course, Harry’s three cats, Mrs. Murphy, Tucker, and Pewter, are just as interested as Harry in uncovering the murderer, who’s wrecking the holidays for everyone by killing off the seemingly selfless monks. This series is just about as formulaic as cozy mysteries can be, but it’s a formula that works, and this entry is just as fun and satisfying as the rest, from the sassy dialogue between the animals to Harry’s dedication to solving crimes, even when it means risking her own safety. The secondary characters, from husband and equine vet Fair to friend and deputy Cooper, provide a solid backdrop to the story. Demand will make this an essential purchase for all mystery collections. --Jessica Moyer

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Product Details

  • Series: Mrs. Murphy Mysteries
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam; 1 edition (November 4, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553807064
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553807066
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (87 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #649,238 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
We are accustomed to talking about "summer reads," those light but compelling novels we have in hand on planes or at the beach, gulping down a few chapters on vacation or sunning at the park. In winter we like to turn to serious books, thick tomes to lose ourselves in, ideally sitting before a warm fire, snuggled in a favorite chair. But the holidays are times of rest and travel as much as the summer is, and snowy and cold days call for fun and well-written books as much as hot and humid days do. Enter Rita Mae (and Sneaky Pie) Brown and SANTA CLAWED, a solid mystery with familiar characters and a brisk pace, just perfect for wintertime reading.

The small, tight-knit town of Crozet, Virginia, is gearing up for Christmas. Mary Haristeen, known to all as Harry, is busy preparing for holiday parties and events, spending time with family and friends. But as colder than typical weather blows in, the town finds itself dealing with a series of murders, and the only clue to solving them is a bit of Greek mythology.

It all starts when Harry and her husband Fair go to the tree lot run by the Brothers of Love, a monastic order living on the outskirts of town, to select a Christmas tree. They find the perfect pine but also come across the slain body of one of the monks at the end of the lot. Brother Christopher had been raised in Crozet, and after getting in trouble for white collar crimes, he dedicated his life to The Brothers of Love. He was well liked, so it was hard to imagine who would hate him enough to slit his throat right before Christmas. Harry promises to stay out of the way of the police investigation, but another murder and her own assault --- after finding a suspicious box hidden in the woods near her home --- make that impossible.
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By D. Morse on November 23, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This series has had its ups and downs but, happy to say, this latest entry shows Sneaky Pie and Rita Mae are definitely back on track. The authors' opinions and views are less preachy and integrated better into the story which is a darn good mystery. The ending has a couple of nice and (to me) unexpected twists. The animals are hilarious and delightful as usual. The very last page will have you smiling and shaking your head at the very least if not laughing out loud. This is also a great story to get you in the mood for Christmas. ENJOY!
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Format: Hardcover
With the Christmas holidays arriving soon, life seems comfy in Crozet, Virginia; a place where all sorts of animals talk to each across species lines. The only ones who don't understand the inter-animal communication system are the dumb humans. Although Mary Minor "Harry" Haristeen thinks she can sometimes comprehend what her pets are saying especially her two cats Mrs. Murphy and Pewter, and to a lesser degree her corgi Tee Tucker.

Harry and her husband Fair are looking for a Christmas tree at a farm run by The Brothers of Love, a group dedicated to helping AIDS patients at their hospice. When they reach the monks' tree farm near the Blue Ridge Mountains, Harry and Fair are stunned to find the dead body of Brother Christopher, who joined the monastery soon after he left jail. He was sent there for insider trading bilking clients for millions. When a second monk is found murdered, his throat slashed similar in a way to Christopher's death with a coin also in his mouth, the police know they are dealing with a cold blooded killer. Harry and her animal caretakers investigate only to find her caught in a web by a predator willing to make the Yuletide season blood red.

Obviously similar to previous tales in the long running saga, anyone who appreciates a pick me up filled with humor and murder will want to read SANTA CLAWED. Although Harry and Fair remarried they are still honeymooning while finding corpses decorating trees. The animals do what they do best one claw make that clue at a time while trying to keep their meddling beloved owner safe from her actions that place her in danger. The mystery is fun as the killer is in plain sight but difficult to identify. Team Brown provides another enjoyable Harry and her PUSS `N CAHOOTS anthropomorphic whodunit.

Harriet Klausner
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Format: Hardcover
I used to enjoy this series. The characters used to have more depth and more differences; now nearly every one of the standard cast of characters is full of sweetness and light. That's not only not real, it's boring. The books used to be "cozy" but with spirit; now they're blah. The plots have become too predictable, with the heroine's cats and dog miraculously saving her time and again. I know from the earlier books in this series, and from Brown's other mystery series, also set in Virginia among horses, that she can do much better work. I fear she is running out of either inventiveness or interest, which is sad - I have enjoyed her books and many of her characters. I bought this Mrs. Murphy book, but I won't buy the next one - I'll just take it out of the library and read it.
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Format: Hardcover
I was prepared to like my audio version of Santa Clawed. I really was. But then the author's heroine, Harry, made the most un-Christmasy, mean-spirited remark I have had the displeasure to read in a long, long time.

Okay, the remark that made me delete the book from my Ipod would probably have passed in another seasonal context, but not in one set at Christmas when the beautiful heroine and her beautiful rich friends have just spent the evening making Christmas decorations for their church celebration and reminiscing about the wonderful, generous Christmas films they used to see in high school...

On to the remark: Ms Harry is choosing a Christmas tree in the tree lot run by the Brothers of Love. She sees a small boy fall in love with a perfect spruce and tell his father that he would love that particular tree for their house. She comments that father and son look poor. She sees the expression on the face of the father and realizes the tree is too expensive for his budget, given the current economic situation. She considers an act of generosity - buying the tree for them. Then she changes her mind and says that the little kid has to "learn the value of money" and better sooner than later.

I cringed. Literally. Such hypocrisy and double think on the part of a fictional heroine who has just spent pages extolling the joys of the Christmas season, which as far as I can recall is about GIVING, freely from the heart, to strangers as to our own, broke the whole 'suspension of disbelief' spell for me. I said the B word out loud in reference to the heroine and the mind that created that awful gem and deleted the book.
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