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A Hiss Before Dying: A Mrs. Murphy Mystery…
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A Hiss Before Dying: A Mrs. Murphy Mystery

by Rita Mae Brown, Sneaky Pie Brown

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Since this is the first Rita Mae Brown book I've read, I appreciated the character descriptions and the list of the characters. However the animals talking was distracting and did nothing to enhance the plot. The attempt to link present events with the past was tenuous at best. She has two separate plot lines going on with little or no link between the two which to me was confusing and didn't help in solving the murder mystery. If this is the pattern she has followed in her other mysteries, I have no desire to read more. ( )
  jumbler | Jun 23, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Fans of Mary Haristeen (Harry), her family and friends, and her animals–cats Mrs. Murphy and Pewter, and Corgi Tee Tucker–will find all of them up to their usual activities in A HISS BEFORE DYING, the twenty seventh in the Rita Mae Brown & Sneaky Pie Brown series. She adds people and pets who lived in the same Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia locale in 1785. At the beginning of the book, here is a list of main characters, human and animal, divided by time and location.
The plot of the 2016 story begins with the discovery of two bodies, at different times: A automobile transport driver who left his running truck on the road and disappeared and an unidentified man in a hoodie. The investigation quickly turns to protecting the environment and animals.
The 1785 story’s main plot is about slavery and its effects on the people involved, both free and slaves.
A HISS BEFORE DYING alternates between the two stories with seemingly no connection except the location. It eventually does converge briefly. Merging their stories doesn’t advance either one. It would have been more interesting comparing the differences in their concerns. The book must have been written before last November 8 and not edited afterwards. The election is mentioned on that date but there is no follow up, even on November 9. That was much too big a story to be omitted.
While generally well-written in a grammatical sense, the plots are a bit thin and stretched out. There was no real excitement. I resent the overuse of fat shamming. Pewter may be overweight, but that doesn’t have to be mentioned in almost every conversation involving the other animals. A couple of human characters are also described by their size or looks more than once. The title had no connection to the story.
Tidbits: The animals in conversation: “Humans attach theories and ideologies to habits, some correct, some not correct. The two cats and dogs never did that. They always looked life square in the eye, which doesn’t mean they always liked what they saw.” But they do talk about how they are superior to humans and find clues that the humans miss.
“People love to talk and they don’t much care if it’s the truth or not. What they care about is looking as though they have the real story.” Very true, especially on the internet social media.
In the 1786 sections, it explains the needs for national programs.. Individual locations (cities, counties, states) didn’t have the consistency and authority to work with other areas and countries about financial matters. States raised and supported militias but only Congress could declare war.
“Council meeting droned on and on....Show me a political meeting where there isn’t hand-wringing and finger pointing.” “What we need is a good sex scandal. That will wake us up.”
“Like many women, she appreciated a super-strong man.” NO! NO! NO! NO! NO!
“When I was at Smith, I’d stay up all night for bull sessions. I thought that was friendship, you know, all this talk. Then one day I realized I wasn’t as smart as I thought I was. I felt closer to people by working with them instead of showing off how smart I thought I was. I like accomplishing something. Talk doesn’t do that.
I haven’t read any of the books in this series for quite awhile and thought I would get back into it. I don’t think I’ll try again.
This book was a preview copy from LibraryThing Early Reviewers. ( )
  Judiex | Jun 15, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Sneaky Pie' s editing shows that cats can make mistakes, such as the sentence "an elderly men". In whole the book presented many facets of life in Virginia through the eyes of animals and the people. I love the adage the "idle hands do the Devil's work." The lack of a centralized currency shows one of the many problems facing the "new" United States. No matter what, greed and cunning dominate the quest to control. I felt that the animals talked too often, and I missed hearing from their humans. I enjoyed the alternating chapters set in current times and in 1786. The illustrations by Michael Gellatly enhanced the story. ( )
  delphimo | Jun 14, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I am getting sick of the device of mixing historical fiction with current mystery story that Ms. Brown is still on. The connection between the historical story and the current mystery is especially tenuous this time. I understood its connection in earlier novels, but if the next on follows the same device, I will probably stop reading until she gets it out of her system. Both stories were fine in themselves, but needing to skip pages to keep continuity is getting old. ( )
  Bidwell-Glaze | Jun 11, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I was easily drawn into this past-n-present, two-in-one mystery. The setting and descriptions were wonderful – I find the approach of autumn to be the most lovely time of year. The characters, both animals and humans, were interesting and appealing. And I so appreciated the annotated "cast of characters" lists at the front of the book. I found myself referring to those lists often, to keep everyone straight in my mind.

Maybe I missed the connections along the way, however to me the two stories did not seem to intertwine very much. Instead, I regarded the past and the present as being quite separate tales … until the very end. I'd prefer one or the other -- or maybe I would like both together, back 'n' forth, slightly more if only there was a tad more relevance to each other. But again, it could have been me & my comprehension..

That being said, liked the book. I particularly enjoyed reading the thoughts and reactions of the animals. The author(s) – Rita (& Sneaky Pie) – are a great team, and I have to admire their collaboration!

It was an entertaining book, and a very quick and engaging read. ( )
  RaucousRain | Jun 9, 2017 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Rita Mae Brownprimary authorall editionscalculated
Brown, Sneaky Piemain authorall editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0553392492, Hardcover)

Following Tail Gait and Tall Tail, the beloved Mrs. Murphy series continues with this contemporary mystery involving wild animal poaching, set against a historical narrative that takes place in America’s post-revolutionary past.

(retrieved from Amazon Sat, 07 Jan 2017 04:06:54 -0500)

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