Sour Puss (Mrs. Murphy Mysteries)

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9780553803624: Sour Puss (Mrs. Murphy Mysteries)
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In this latest whodunit, Rita Mae Brown and her feline partner-in-crime-detection, Sneaky Pie Brown, return to the scene of their bestselling crimes—picturesque Crozet, Virginia. Love is in the air as spring comes to the small town, but no sooner has Mary Minor “Harry” Haristeen remarried than she is rudely interrupted—by murder. And no sooner does the trouble start than curious cats Mrs. Murphy and Pewter, along with corgi Tee Tucker, sink their claws into the case....

After an unexpected rekindling of their romance, Harry and her veterinarian ex-husband, Fair Haristeen, have happily remarried. But the excitement of their nuptials is quickly overshadowed by the murder of Professor Vincent Forland, a world-famous grape and fungal expert who was in town visiting the local vineyards.

Within days of giving a lecture on how distilled fungus and cattle diseases are the current basis of chemical warfare, Forland’s decapitated body is discovered. After their initial fright, the residents of Crozet believe that this was a political murder and settle back into their routines–until a local is also found dead, killed in the same gruesome manner as Professor Forland. Now residents can’t help wondering, is this really the work of an
outsider—or one of their own?

No longer working in the post office, Harry had just planted a quarter acre of grapes, which fuels her natural curiosity over just what the two murder victims knew and had in common. Once the warmth of spring arrives, the grapevines blossom and Harry’s furry entourage discovers the first critical clue. But how can they show the humans what they’ve learned? And how can they—or anyone—stop the killing?

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

Rita Mae Brown is the bestselling author of several books. An Emmy-nominated screenwriter and a poet, she lives in Afton, Virginia.

Sneaky Pie Brown, a tiger cat born somewhere in Albemarle County, Virginia, was discovered by Rita Mae Brown at her local SPCA. They have collaborated on fourteen previous Mrs. Murphy mysteries: Sour Puss; Wish You Were Here; Rest in Pieces; Murder at Monticello; Pay Dirt; Murder, She Meowed; Murder on the Prowl; Cat on the Scent; Pawing Through the Past; Claws and Effect; Catch as Cat Can; The Tail of the Tip-Off; Whisker of Evil; and Cat’s Eyewitness, in addition to Sneaky Pie’s Cookbook for Mystery Lovers.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter One


"Mary Minor, wilt thou have this man to be thy wedded husband, to live together after God's ordinance, in the holy estate of Matrimony? Wilt thou love him, comfort him, honor and keep him in sickness and in health; and, forsaking all others, keep thee only to him, so long as ye both shall live?"

"I will," Harry answered in a clear voice.

The Reverend Herbert Jones, in his sonorous tone, then asked, "Who giveth this woman to be married to this man?"

Susan Tucker, next to Harry, said, "I do."

Fair, smiling, repeated what he had memorized. "I, Pharamond Haristeen, take thee, Mary Minor, to be my wedded wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part, according to God's holy ordinance; and thereto I plight thee my troth."

Perched on the balcony ledge, Mrs. Murphy, Harry's tiger cat, and Pewter, the roly-poly gray cat, observed intently. Tucker, the corgi, sat on a bench next to Mildred, the organist.

"Finally," the dog sighed.

"They're right for each other." Mrs. Murphy had cat's intuition about such matters.

"They tried it once, the second time should be the charm." Pewter wished the ceremony would speed along, because she was eager to attend the reception. The extravagance of foods thrilled her far more than contemplating human rituals.

"If you think the farm runs along like a top now, you just wait until Fair puts his back into it. He's strong as an ox." Tucker had always loved the six-foot-five-inch veterinarian. The feeling was mutual.

"Does this mean we won't be sleeping on the bed? I mean, do we have to put up with their thrashing around and all that moaning and groaning?" Pewter cherished sleep almost as much as food.

"Why would it be any different now, Pewts? Flop on the end of the bed and when they're done then go up and sleep on the pillow," Mrs. Murphy replied.

"Well, if they're married maybe they'll be doing it more, you know?" Pewter considered human physical intimacy an irritation. Then she giggled. "Or less."

"Won't be any different, except he'll be more relaxed. He's worked so hard to win her back. He'll be happy. Harry really is his great passion." Mrs. Murphy watched as Herb blessed the rings.

"Is Fair her great passion?" Pewter cocked her head.

Neither Mrs. Murphy nor Tucker said anything. After long thought, Tucker finally responded, "That's a hard question to answer."

"See, I don't think he is, even if she is marrying him," Pewter blurted out. "Look at Miranda and Tracy. He's loony about her and she swoons every time she looks at him. I mean, BoomBoom and Alicia, besotted with each other. Cow eyes, you know. But I never see that in Harry."

"Too rational." Tucker understood Pewter's point.

"Oh, we've all seen Harry toss reason to the winds. Not often, granted, but she can lose her temper or let her curiosity get the better of her. Judgment flies right out the window." Mrs. Murphy, too, pondered Pewter's observation. "She loves him. She wouldn't be standing there in that pretty dress if she didn't love him. She's," Mrs. Murphy paused, "diffident. Our dear mother gets more excited about ideas, about building a shed or planting redbud clover than she does about people. She likes people well enough and, like I said, she truly loves Fair, but her passions aren't about people. But he knows that. He knows just what he's getting."

"Guess so. They've known each other since before kindergarten." Tucker noticed Miranda wiping her eyes with a Belgian lace handkerchief. She also saw Paul de Silva holding Tazio Chappars's hand. He obviously was wildly in love with the young, talented architect. Alicia and BoomBoom didn't hold hands, but she saw Alicia give BoomBoom a handkerchief, as the Junoesque blonde was crying, too.

"Funny, BoomBoom crying, since everyone blamed her for the breakup of Harry's marriage even though they were separated," Tucker remarked.

"No one can seduce a man who doesn't want to be seduced. Fair was wrong and he paid penance. I say we forget the whole thing. Harry finally has." Mrs. Murphy was glad that Harry and BoomBoom had reclaimed a friendship out of painful circumstances.

"Guess BoomBoom and Alicia can't get married, huh?" Pewter twitched her tail, massive boredom setting in along with a grumbling stomach.

"They can, sort of, but the state doesn't recognize it." Tucker shifted her weight on the bench, which made Mildred Potter, the organist, pat her on the head.

"Why do people get married? We don't. It's such an expense, a big public display, and it costs a bloody fortune. Can't they just pair off and be done with it? Think of all the chicken and salmon and tuna and catnip you could buy with that money." Pewter honed in on her passion.

"This wedding isn't that expensive, because it's a remarriage." Tucker was getting hungry herself.

"Ha. The reception is going to cost about six thousand dollars. Probably more once the bar bill comes in. That's a lot of tuna," Pewter said.

"There's more than tuna at stake for humans. Marriage establishes paternity so a man isn't putting a nickel in another man's meter." Mrs. Murphy laughed. " 'Course, now with DNA, paternity can be established in ways that don't please all men. You play, you pay. They can no longer claim the baby isn't theirs." She paused. "The whole marriage thing is so ingrained in society that they can't really do without it. Doesn't even matter if they have children. It's something you've got to do."

"Like death and taxes." Pewter giggled.

"Aren't you glad you don't have to go through all this rigmarole?" Tucker sighed. "I'm happy Harry is marrying Fair, but it is exhausting."

"Who wants to be human? If there is reincarnation I'm coming back as myself." Pewter puffed out her gray chest.

"My, my, don't we think a lot of ourselves." Mrs. Murphy slyly batted at Pewter.

"Oh, and you'd like to come back as a caterpillar?" Pewter sassed.

Mrs. Murphy lashed out, a real whack.

Pewter struck back.

"Hey, hey, you two!" Mildred cautioned them, because it would be a long tumble down into the congregation.

Just as Herb uttered, "Those whom God hath joined together let no man put asunder," the people gathered below were treated to a hissing fit of such volume that a few heads tilted upward. Harry cast her eyes to behold the spectacle of Pewter giving Mrs. Murphy such a swat that the tiger cat slipped over the side of the balcony, hanging on by her claws.

"Dear God," she sighed.

"Little pagans," Herb whispered, which made Fair laugh.

With heroic effort, Mrs. Murphy hoisted herself up onto the balcony railing. Pewter shot off the railing, hit the organist's bench with all fours, endured a reprimand from Mildred and a yap from Tucker as she leapt onto the keys, which produced a mass of discordant notes throughout lovely St. Luke's Lutheran Church.

She then soared off the organ as Mrs. Murphy, in hot pursuit, gained on her. Up to the last row of the balcony, down to the exit, thundering down the carpeted stairs, Pewter skidded across the highly polished vestibule floor, knocking over the lectern with the red leather visitor's book opened. The book hit the floor. Mrs. Murphy left a few claw marks as she scrambled over the book. Pewter then turned a ninety-degree angle, bolting down the center aisle of the church.

BoomBoom reached out to grab her, but Pewter eluded the bejeweled hand, as did Mrs. Murphy. The two crazed felines headed straight for the nuptial pair.

Tucker had sense enough not to stop either cat. She watched with fascination, as did Mildred.

"You're a good doggy," Mildred crooned between her laughs.

"Yes, I am."

"I will kill you. I will kill you on Harry's wedding day!" Mrs. Murphy shouted.

"Gotta catch me first." Pewter, realizing she was the center of attention, was loving the limelight, quite oblivious to the discipline that might follow.

Herb bravely continued, and as he was pronouncing Fair and Harry husband and wife he rolled his eyes skyward, imploring the Lord not only to bless those two humans but to bless the two cats in quite a different way.

Pewter ducked under Harry's train. Mrs. Murphy wiggled right under. Pewter then emerged from the back of Harry's train with such force that Fair held on to her as Herb ended the ceremony with ". . . that in the world to come ye may have life everlasting. Amen."

Before Fair kissed his bride, they both watched Pewter land on the altar. She crouched behind the large gold cross. Mrs. Murphy landed on the altar, as well, the two towering floral displays on either side of the cross swaying unpredictably. The cats fought each other on either side of the cross.

Fair whispered, "Honey, let me kiss you before they wreck the place."

He kissed her and she kissed back, and when they broke the kiss, they just laughed until the tears came to their eyes. By now everyone was mesmerized, and it was dawning on Pewter that as much as she adored all these eyes upon her there might be hell to pay.

"She started it!" Pewter bellowed.

"I did not, you fat fat water rat

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780553586817: Sour Puss: A Mrs. Murphy Mystery

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ISBN 10: 0553586815 ISBN 13: 9780553586817
Publisher: Bantam, 2007
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9780786284504: Sour Puss

Thornd..., 2006
Hardcover

9780739465356: Sour Puss (A Mrs. Murphy Mystery)

Bantam, 2006
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