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Probable Claws (Mrs. Murphy #26)

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Rita Mae Brown and her feline co-author Sneaky Pie Brown return with a new tale in their bestselling Mrs. Murphy series, as mysteries past and present converge in Albemarle County, Virginia. Mary Minor "Harry" Haristeen and her friends and animal companions pursue the threads of a mystery dating back to Virginia's post-Revolutionary past, when their 18th-century predecessor Rita Mae Brown and her feline co-author Sneaky Pie Brown return with a new tale in their bestselling Mrs. Murphy series, as mysteries past and present converge in Albemarle County, Virginia. Mary Minor "Harry" Haristeen and her friends and animal companions pursue the threads of a mystery dating back to Virginia's post-Revolutionary past, when their 18th-century predecessors struggled with the challenges of the fledgling country. In the present day, Harry's new friendship with Marvella Lawson, doyenne of the Richmond art world, leads her to rediscover her own creative passions--and reveals evidence of an all too contemporary crime.


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Rita Mae Brown and her feline co-author Sneaky Pie Brown return with a new tale in their bestselling Mrs. Murphy series, as mysteries past and present converge in Albemarle County, Virginia. Mary Minor "Harry" Haristeen and her friends and animal companions pursue the threads of a mystery dating back to Virginia's post-Revolutionary past, when their 18th-century predecessor Rita Mae Brown and her feline co-author Sneaky Pie Brown return with a new tale in their bestselling Mrs. Murphy series, as mysteries past and present converge in Albemarle County, Virginia. Mary Minor "Harry" Haristeen and her friends and animal companions pursue the threads of a mystery dating back to Virginia's post-Revolutionary past, when their 18th-century predecessors struggled with the challenges of the fledgling country. In the present day, Harry's new friendship with Marvella Lawson, doyenne of the Richmond art world, leads her to rediscover her own creative passions--and reveals evidence of an all too contemporary crime.

30 review for Probable Claws (Mrs. Murphy #26)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Bam

    I've been a long-time fan of this series set in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia which features both human and animal characters. Rita Mae Brown even gives writing credit to her cat, Sneaky Pie Brown, haha. But it looks like I stopped at book #20 in the series, so it was a pleasure to revisit these familiar characters. This is a very intriguing mystery--a bold murder committed in front of witnesses, including Mary Minor 'Harry' Haristeen, local farmer and the hero of these stories, who can't I've been a long-time fan of this series set in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia which features both human and animal characters. Rita Mae Brown even gives writing credit to her cat, Sneaky Pie Brown, haha. But it looks like I stopped at book #20 in the series, so it was a pleasure to revisit these familiar characters. This is a very intriguing mystery--a bold murder committed in front of witnesses, including Mary Minor 'Harry' Haristeen, local farmer and the hero of these stories, who can't help sticking her nose in where it doesn't belong. Ms Brown has begun weaving a bit of historical fiction into her mysteries in occasional chapters, which I really enjoyed--the scene being the same locale in the years following the Revolutionary War. I recommend this as a quick summer read. If you love an intriguing mystery and books about Virginia, animals and love of the natural environment, I predict you will enjoy these books. The animals are quite amusing too. Don't worry about jumping in in the middle of a series--Ms Brown thoughtfully includes a 'Cast of Characters.' And as always, there are some delightful pen and ink drawings that enhance the enjoyment of the story. Thank you to NetGalley, the publisher and author for providing me with an arc of this new mystery for an honest review. It was a delight to spend some time with old 'friends.'

  2. 5 out of 5

    Cheri

    I love myself some Mrs Murphy mysteries. All of the animals crack me up on their adventure. I want a "Fair" of my very own :). Great mystery to solve in this latest RMB novel. I have to admit she stumped me to the very end this time. I enjoy reading her reflections back to the 18th century and the characters of that time. I have always liked the Ewing sisters and their spouses. Great new characters and animal friends in this one. Can't wait to see what's up next for Harry and her furry friends!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Loraine

    Another recently released cozy mystery in the Mrs. Murphy series. I love that her series features Mary Minor "Harry" Haristean and her menagerie of dogs, cats, and horses. The dogs and cats have the fantastic ability to talk to one another and always seem one step ahead of Harry when she is trying to solve a mystery. I felt that their dialogue somehow had lost the wittiness that it usually contained and by the end of the story was very tired of the "big spider" thread. Usually they were much mor Another recently released cozy mystery in the Mrs. Murphy series. I love that her series features Mary Minor "Harry" Haristean and her menagerie of dogs, cats, and horses. The dogs and cats have the fantastic ability to talk to one another and always seem one step ahead of Harry when she is trying to solve a mystery. I felt that their dialogue somehow had lost the wittiness that it usually contained and by the end of the story was very tired of the "big spider" thread. Usually they were much more involved in solving the mystery and seemed to be left out this time other than one factor. This mystery is a bit different from it's usual format; but since I hadn't read the last 2 or 3, I had difficulty following a new spin these mysteries have taken. There is a dual time line with the cozy mystery taking place in the present and the other time line following the development of the US post Revolution. I enjoyed the historic timeline but didn't see the correlation to the present day mystery. Then reading the post note from the author, it appears the historical timeline started in the previous book and will conclude in the next book. I would recommend that the author or publisher somehow note this so that other readers don't attempt to read this as a standalone. Overall, felt this book wasn't quite the quality and cleverness of her previous books. **I received a complimentary copy of this book from Random House through NetGalley. Opinions are mine alone. I was not compensated for this review.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Joy Smith

    My favorite characters continue to be Mrs. Murphy, Tucker, Pewter, the barn critters--and the spider! And I enjoyed the present story line with Harry and her friends, especially Cooper this time--more than the eighteenth century story line, though I'm impressed by all the research! (I'm learning a lot--also from the author's note.), but I lose track of those characters sometimes. (I appreciate the cast of characters listed in the front as I needed to refer to it.) This story line is continued fr My favorite characters continue to be Mrs. Murphy, Tucker, Pewter, the barn critters--and the spider! And I enjoyed the present story line with Harry and her friends, especially Cooper this time--more than the eighteenth century story line, though I'm impressed by all the research! (I'm learning a lot--also from the author's note.), but I lose track of those characters sometimes. (I appreciate the cast of characters listed in the front as I needed to refer to it.) This story line is continued from the last book, A Hiss Before Dying. The mystery and suspense make for an exciting story (present day), and I especially enjoyed the scene with Pewter and Mrs. Murphy protecting Harry. Btw, I see that that story line (beginning in November 1876) will be continued and concluded in the next book. The settings are well done, and the history is actually interesting. Oh, and a new character--in Harry's story line--is introduced. Note: I read the present day story first and then the second one to help me keep track.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Lori

    "Harry" and Deputy Cynthia Cooper watch a motorcyclist gun down architect Gary Gardner. With little to go on besides the fact the motorcyclist wore a black jacket, the police are grateful for any clues--even those provided by Harry's pets. Gary kept building codes for each year, but the 1984 file seems to be missing, and when a skull halts construction at a building site, it dates back to that period. Eventually another murder occurs. The cats, of course, assist in capturing the guilty party. A l "Harry" and Deputy Cynthia Cooper watch a motorcyclist gun down architect Gary Gardner. With little to go on besides the fact the motorcyclist wore a black jacket, the police are grateful for any clues--even those provided by Harry's pets. Gary kept building codes for each year, but the 1984 file seems to be missing, and when a skull halts construction at a building site, it dates back to that period. Eventually another murder occurs. The cats, of course, assist in capturing the guilty party. A late eighteenth century story line is also present. It depicts slavery, including ill-treatment by some, escape for some, and freedom for others. Much of this story line shows the attitudes of the plantation owners and their families toward the Constitutional Convention and what it might do to class distinctions. Two non-related story lines in different time periods does not work for me. I think I would have enjoyed either story on its own, but I simply saw no need for the eighteenth century story, which took up less space (about one-third of the book). The main story would "just get going good" when the older story interrupted its flow. I received this through LibraryThing Early Reviewers program with the expectation of an honest review. I have not kept current with this series, and I suspect the alternating story lines are why I made them low priority. While I will probably go back and try to read earlier missed installments, mainly because I love the cats, I will not rush to do so.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Debbie Maskus

    As a cat lover, I adore this series, but I do have a beef. Brown has too many animals and people, and too much conversation among the animals. The animals seem to act as a Greek chorus in explaining what is happening. Brown does use italics when the animals are speaking, but this disrupts the flow of the story. As usual, Rita Mae Brown utilizes her expertise is filling the book with lengthy and tedious information concerning some aspect of the story. The discussion of building and architecture w As a cat lover, I adore this series, but I do have a beef. Brown has too many animals and people, and too much conversation among the animals. The animals seem to act as a Greek chorus in explaining what is happening. Brown does use italics when the animals are speaking, but this disrupts the flow of the story. As usual, Rita Mae Brown utilizes her expertise is filling the book with lengthy and tedious information concerning some aspect of the story. The discussion of building and architecture went on and on, and lead to very little pertinent data. I enjoyed the jump back into 1787 and learning about the financial woes of the new country.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    I have been enjoying this series from the start so this is the 27th Sneaky Pie I have read. The draw for me is the present day, in every book. Like a letter from home, I look forward to finding out how life is going for Harry and the animals and various friends and family, of course. My problem with the last book, this one and probably will be for the next one is the two stories in one book. I really have a hard time focusing on two time periods and two story lines. Just my opinion but I would r I have been enjoying this series from the start so this is the 27th Sneaky Pie I have read. The draw for me is the present day, in every book. Like a letter from home, I look forward to finding out how life is going for Harry and the animals and various friends and family, of course. My problem with the last book, this one and probably will be for the next one is the two stories in one book. I really have a hard time focusing on two time periods and two story lines. Just my opinion but I would rather have the colonial period as one stand alone book and continue Sneaky Pie as a series. I want to give each my undivided attention as a reader, without confusion. I would say to any reader to read this three book series as a unit, not out of order. Yes, I want a full book of each. My three stars reflects my difficulty with keeping my focus, not a reflection of the writing or the two stories. I felt the tension in the present day story, shocked by the first murder and eager to figure out who would go to such extreme lengths to silence another person. Humor is added, as usual, by the animals. Pewter cracks me up and this time it"s her reaction to a rather large spider. We also meet a new dog, such a sweet puppy, I wanted to hug him. All of the animals continue to protect Harry from various dangers as we have come to expect in every book. In the mystery and the animals, I was more than satisfied. I have no doubt I will be reading #28 because of Harry and her animals. My thanks to the publisher Bantam and to NetGalley for giving me an advance copy in exchange for my honest review.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Ricki

    Rita Mae Brown's Mrs. Murphy books are always so good to read! Each book is like a visit with old friends that you have not seen in a while...Harry gets involved with the unexplained murder of her architect friend, Gary Gardner, who is designing a new shed for Harry...and is shot to death righ in front of her and Deputy Cynthia Cooper! Then the killer strkes again...but how and why are the two murders related? Love the way the books go from the present to the past..I always learn at least one th Rita Mae Brown's Mrs. Murphy books are always so good to read! Each book is like a visit with old friends that you have not seen in a while...Harry gets involved with the unexplained murder of her architect friend, Gary Gardner, who is designing a new shed for Harry...and is shot to death righ in front of her and Deputy Cynthia Cooper! Then the killer strkes again...but how and why are the two murders related? Love the way the books go from the present to the past..I always learn at least one thing that I did not previous know in each book in the series! Loved it!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jacque

    A motorcycle roars to a stop in Crozet and the rider shoots at a group of three people standing outside a storefront. And Harry is drawn into another murder investigation. What is the motivation for the killing? Is a second killing linked to the first? Mrs. Murphy, Pewter, and Tucker are entertaining, as always, and now are joined by an Irish Wolfhound puppy. The modern day story is interwoven with the story of early settlers in the area. Their story is equally fascinating and I am anxiously wai A motorcycle roars to a stop in Crozet and the rider shoots at a group of three people standing outside a storefront. And Harry is drawn into another murder investigation. What is the motivation for the killing? Is a second killing linked to the first? Mrs. Murphy, Pewter, and Tucker are entertaining, as always, and now are joined by an Irish Wolfhound puppy. The modern day story is interwoven with the story of early settlers in the area. Their story is equally fascinating and I am anxiously waiting for the next part of their history.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Lindsay Porter

    I received an ARC from Netgalley and I'm glad I did. I love this series and I eagerly await the next. I normally don't like books that switch back and forth in time but Rita Mae Brown does a fabulous job. I feel like these people are my friends and of course who doesn't love the animals. Definitely 5 stars and please hurry with more!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Wanda

    No wonder this series is so enduring (27 entries so far!), it’s as cozy as a cozy mystery can be and clever to boot. At first, I thought the talking animals would be over-the-top cute but they added a welcomed touch of insight and humor to the process of figuring out who-dun-it. And even though this was my first Mrs. Murphy mystery (Mrs. Murphy is a cat, btw), I didn’t have any trouble keeping up with the characters and plot of the present day story line. I can’t say the same about the 18th-cent No wonder this series is so enduring (27 entries so far!), it’s as cozy as a cozy mystery can be and clever to boot. At first, I thought the talking animals would be over-the-top cute but they added a welcomed touch of insight and humor to the process of figuring out who-dun-it. And even though this was my first Mrs. Murphy mystery (Mrs. Murphy is a cat, btw), I didn’t have any trouble keeping up with the characters and plot of the present day story line. I can’t say the same about the 18th-century backstory, though. It seemed like it was part of an ongoing post-revolutionary drama that I’m guessing will be picked up in the next book. Probably a good incentive to keep up with the series. I may just go back and read a few of the previous books so I'll be up to speed when the next Mrs. Murphy mystery comes out. 3 1/2 stars. My thanks to Bantam Books and LibraryThing for the copy this review was based on.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Judy

    Sneaky Pie, this post is for you. I really enjoy the Mrs. Murphy series, but I have one concern. While each of the characters are engaging and the mystery intriguing, I wish that you would curl up on Rita Maw Brown's lap, purr engagingly, and whisper into her ear that she needs to tone down the constant political commentary. It distracts from the flow of the story. While I agree with most of the views presented, that really isn't the point. Not all readers will. Even if the political comments we Sneaky Pie, this post is for you. I really enjoy the Mrs. Murphy series, but I have one concern. While each of the characters are engaging and the mystery intriguing, I wish that you would curl up on Rita Maw Brown's lap, purr engagingly, and whisper into her ear that she needs to tone down the constant political commentary. It distracts from the flow of the story. While I agree with most of the views presented, that really isn't the point. Not all readers will. Even if the political comments were cut in half, I think that would improve these books. Sneaky Pie, thank you for your time and your consideration.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Karla Cook

    I read about half of this book and found myself not caring much how it ended. The modern day murder mystery part was mildly engaging, but I felt like I was handicapped in not having read previous books in the series. I kept having to refer to the list of characters in the front and even then, didn't really understand who everyone was. The 18th century storyline interspersed throughout just made no sense at all in relation to the other story. I did find the pets' conversations amusing.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Natasha

    Well what can l say? The animals were the same as usual. Their is a change in Harry and Fair's life a nice one. The 18th century story line was for me was interesting and l am looking forward to reading the next book as it wraps up. The modern day mysteries was okay. But the spider story line went far to long in the book. The other thing l found odd a lot of Cooper in this book,very little of Susan. Makes me wonder if Rita Mae Brown is getting ready to wrap up the series.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Julie Carter

    This was a decent mystery, although the animals were not nearly as involved as in the past. Many of the characters that we have come to know and love weren't in the book either, and I feel that the writing style has changed some. Maybe I haven't read one of these books in a while, but the sentences were really choppy, and sometimes they responded with one word. I don't remember that from her other books. This story also contained one of my pet peeves, which is referring to the safety on a Glock. This was a decent mystery, although the animals were not nearly as involved as in the past. Many of the characters that we have come to know and love weren't in the book either, and I feel that the writing style has changed some. Maybe I haven't read one of these books in a while, but the sentences were really choppy, and sometimes they responded with one word. I don't remember that from her other books. This story also contained one of my pet peeves, which is referring to the safety on a Glock. It does not take long to research a weapon, which would have shown the author that Glock's don't have a safety. I did enjoy the book, but not as much as ones in the past.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Brenda Freeman

    Harry and her animal friends are once again witness to a murder. As they work to solve the crime the story goes back in time to the time of slavery and how the area was during that time. Another great book by RMB and Sneaky Pie.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Rhonda Lomazow

    Love love this series how delicious a new pet.thanks #netgaley

  18. 5 out of 5

    Benni

    Review also posted on my blog: https://bennilovesbooks.wordpress.com... I received an ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This book has content warnings for death, murder, poison, gun violence, physical violence, racist/xenophobic language, and miscarriage/pregnancy loss. I had expected better of this book than what I got; though it wasn't the worst, overall it was quite disappointing. One thing that is less the book's fault and more my own is that the dual timelines did not work fo Review also posted on my blog: https://bennilovesbooks.wordpress.com... I received an ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This book has content warnings for death, murder, poison, gun violence, physical violence, racist/xenophobic language, and miscarriage/pregnancy loss. I had expected better of this book than what I got; though it wasn't the worst, overall it was quite disappointing. One thing that is less the book's fault and more my own is that the dual timelines did not work for me at all; though cozy mysteries like this one are usually fine read as standalone books, the historical plot that takes place in the 18th century apparently spans across the book before this one in the series as well as the book following this one. Because of this, the storyline felt incredibly disconnected from the modern-day narrative because it didn't have anything at all to do with Gary's murder. What was more odd was that the modern-day storyline read as expected -- as if it could be a standalone read out of order even though it's part of a series. The historical plot was also pretty boring and dry, and I didn't care for anything that happened during those chapters. Even though reading the books in this series out of order and not getting the previous part of the 18th century narrative from the previous book, I still expect the characters and the narrative to be interesting, and they just weren't. The modern-day narrative was self-contained and more interesting, although I wasn't impressed by it, either. The human characters mostly spent their time bumbling around almost as if they were waiting for the animals to give them clues, and while the animals were snarky and kind of funny when they talked to each other, their scenes were almost entirely consumed by Pewter the cat complaining about a giant spider. I know cozy mysteries often have a very leisurely pace to them, but this was just too slow and repetitive. I don't mind a book being a leisurely read, but if it's going to do that then the narrative needs to have enough content to keep my attention. This book felt as if it could have been half the length and still keep its leisurely pace and storylines without sacrificing anything. Additionally, I was pulled out of the narrative on multiple occasions because of the racism and xenophobia contained in the book. I realize that this book takes place in the south and maybe phrases like "you can pinch a nickle until the Indian rides the buffalo" (9%) might be more commonplace than they are where I live, but it was still off-putting to see in the text. There was also a really weird scene where Harry's new Black friend, Marvella, basically starts explaining institutionalized oppression to Harry and sort of even tries to turn enduring institutionalized oppression into a "positive," and it feels really unnatural and weird. This isn't my lane so it'd be better to seek out opinions of Black readers (or other readers who are PoC for the racism issues as a whole), but these scenes left a funny taste in my mouth. I was also a bit uncomfortable with physical violence in the book. There is a scene where a "good" character is breaking the bones of a "bad" character in order to keep them in line, and I was cringing through the whole scene because that felt incredibly wrong to me for a number of reasons. It's just odd to me that something like that would be depicted as acceptable and heroic when it's pretty terrible and the character clearly has other options or has started doing it just because they can. This just did't sit well with me. I found myself really just wishing there was more to this book. It's pretty average for a cozy mystery and there definitely could have been more to this one. It wasn't the worst read, but it was underwhelming at best. If you're a regular Mrs. Murphy reader then you might like this one; otherwise it might be better to look at other cozy cat mysteries instead. Final rating: 3 of 5 stars

  19. 4 out of 5

    JoAnne McMaster (Any Good Book)

    "Harry" Harristeen lives in Crozet, Virginia with her veternarian husband Fair and her assortment of animals, including her felines Pewter and Mrs. Murphy and her Corgi Tucker. She has decided to build a new work shed and she's hired architect Gary Gardner, a good friend, to build it. But when she's standing outside his shop along with Gary and Deputy Cynthia Cooper, a motorcyclist stops and shoots Gary once then drives away. The bullet is perfectly aimed and he quickly dies from the wound. But w "Harry" Harristeen lives in Crozet, Virginia with her veternarian husband Fair and her assortment of animals, including her felines Pewter and Mrs. Murphy and her Corgi Tucker. She has decided to build a new work shed and she's hired architect Gary Gardner, a good friend, to build it. But when she's standing outside his shop along with Gary and Deputy Cynthia Cooper, a motorcyclist stops and shoots Gary once then drives away. The bullet is perfectly aimed and he quickly dies from the wound. But who would want Gary dead? And why? When Harry - cautioned by Coop not to interfere - starts a little investigation on her own anyway, she's having trouble putting the pieces together. It isn't until another murder that she's finally able to figure it out, and even with the help of her faithful companions Pewter, Mrs. Murphy, Tucker, it may very well cost her her own life if she's not careful... This is the latest book in the Mrs. Murphy series, and as such, does not disappoint. Ms. Brown has a real talent for weaving the past and the present together without losing her readers in the process. The stories - one taking place in the present and the other in the 1700's - are seamlessly merged; and both tales are interesting enough that while reading of one century, you long to go back to the other. The tale in the 1700's tells of the original landowners in the area and how their families fared during that time; and often it connects with the present-day tale; but this time out we are going farther back - back when dinosaurs roamed the earth and how it still affects us in the present day. It is always interesting to see how far greed will take people, and the lengths they are willing to go to in order to acquire wealth. That can be said for both eras in the stories told; yet while the tales do not mirror each other, each is fascinating in its own way. The mystery was extremely well done, and the murderer was unexpected as well. There were several suspects, but if you watch the clues, it leads in but one direction. The characters are well-drawn, the scenery is highly descriptive, and I absolutely adore Harry, who is not your run-of-the-mill protagonist, but a woman who is not only smart, but strong, brave, and self-sufficient. It is easy to see why her husband Fair is enamored of her; this is a woman who can think on her feet (much like Catherine Garth) and stays calm in the face of danger. While we know Harry could not have solved anything without the help of the delightful (and egotistical) Pewter (as I feel I must give credit where credit is due), I have to say that I truly enjoyed reading this book as much as I have the others, and I look forward to the next in the series. Highly recommended.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Nicola

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I don’t recall how I first discovered the Mrs. Murphy series but I have loved it from that very first read. Mysteries are my favourite kind of book, and as an animal lover, especially kitties, it was immediately appealing. Rita Mae Brown’s writing instantly sucks you in and makes the little Virginian town of Crozet come alive, and the books have become some of my favourites to read. That’s why it hurts me to say how little I enjoyed this entry to the series, and even more unfortunate that it was I don’t recall how I first discovered the Mrs. Murphy series but I have loved it from that very first read. Mysteries are my favourite kind of book, and as an animal lover, especially kitties, it was immediately appealing. Rita Mae Brown’s writing instantly sucks you in and makes the little Virginian town of Crozet come alive, and the books have become some of my favourites to read. That’s why it hurts me to say how little I enjoyed this entry to the series, and even more unfortunate that it was the second in a row that I didn’t like. I’m really uncertain why it’s continuing to jump back to the 1780’s. I don’t hate the storyline or anything, I’d maybe even read more about it if Brown wrote a seperate book since the characters are interesting, but particularly in this book, there was no connection to the current timeline story at all. It just detracted from what was going on and left little time for our favourite characters to really shine in their own story. Whilst I was really pleased to see the return of Tazio and Brinkley, the story was extremely light on any appearances from other recurring faces. Fair and Cooper pop up a bit, and Marvella from a more recent book is in it, but that’s about it. No Susan, no Miranda, no BoomBoom and Alicia, no Rev, no Mims Little or Big, nor Aunt Tally, nothing. I know there’s only so much story you can get from certain people but it was disappointing. I also felt it was very light on the animals. Usually the main trio are right in the thick of it, but other than the adoption of Pirate and Pewter’s obsession with the spider, they didn’t really even add much. And again there was no extra animals, even the familiar ones like Simon the possum or Matilda the snake. Then the main plot itself just seemed really light. It didn’t feel like there was any tension or even mystery really. I didn’t get a chance to bond with the characters to care enough what happened to them outside of Harry herself. The resolution was actually just kind of silly, and Harry’s reaction to it seemed exceedingly out of character. I couldn’t believe that Cooper and the other police allowed it. I’ll still try the next book and keep my fingers crossed it’s better, but this book has left me feeling pretty disillusioned about the series at the moment.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Lis Carey

    Let's start by saying that Mrs. Murphy (tiger cat), Tucker (corgi), and even new recruit Pirate (Irish wolfhound puppy) are amazingly patient with Pewter (fat gray cat). Just saying! Harry Haristeen is working with architect Gary Gardner on improvements to her barn and workspace, and all seems as peaceful as it ever is around Harry. Then the illusion of peace is shattered as Harry, Gary, and Deputy Cynthia Cooper are standing outside Gary's office. A motorcyclist, completely obscured in bike leat Let's start by saying that Mrs. Murphy (tiger cat), Tucker (corgi), and even new recruit Pirate (Irish wolfhound puppy) are amazingly patient with Pewter (fat gray cat). Just saying! Harry Haristeen is working with architect Gary Gardner on improvements to her barn and workspace, and all seems as peaceful as it ever is around Harry. Then the illusion of peace is shattered as Harry, Gary, and Deputy Cynthia Cooper are standing outside Gary's office. A motorcyclist, completely obscured in bike leathers and an opaque helmet drives up, shoots Gary fatally, and drives away. Cooper's sincere plea to Harry that she stay out of the investigation really just means Harry has to be more careful. And, really, the deputies would probably never have paid really close attention to Gary's stolen and recovered paper copies of the building codes for every jurisdiction he's worked in going back to his days at Rankin Construction...right? But Gary's death is not the last--or, it turns out, the first. On Rankin's current construction site, a new building replacing one Rankin built--and Gary worked on--in the 80s, a body is found, dead from a very precise bullet, just as Gary was killed. Handwritten notes and dates in Gary's code books coincide with that death, and an earlier one that appeared to be just an early and unexpected heart attack. Harry may be a little too eager to investigate herself rather than let the Crozet police do their jobs, and it's not always safe, but she is smart, observant, and attentive to detail. She also has her animals, whose noses and lower-to-the-ground view of the world pick up details she misses. And if usually they can't really tell her, they do sometimes manage to alert her to something crucial. I really enjoyed this, even the bits set in 1786 and 1787, that don't directly bear on this story, they may have present-day repercussions in later Mrs. Murphy mysteries. All in all, this is an enjoyable mystery, and an enjoyable new entry in an ongoing series. Recommended. I borrowed this book from the local library.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Steve Lionel

    It's been many years since I last read a Rita Mae/Sneaky Pie Brown mystery. One aspect remains the same - in this world, cats and dogs can talk to each other and understand (to varying degrees) what humans say, but the humans are unaware of this. The cats (in particular) usually help solve the crime. New to me, in this book, was that there were two distinct story arcs. The main one, which takes place in the present and has the murders (and talking cats), and a tale about life in post-Revolutiona It's been many years since I last read a Rita Mae/Sneaky Pie Brown mystery. One aspect remains the same - in this world, cats and dogs can talk to each other and understand (to varying degrees) what humans say, but the humans are unaware of this. The cats (in particular) usually help solve the crime. New to me, in this book, was that there were two distinct story arcs. The main one, which takes place in the present and has the murders (and talking cats), and a tale about life in post-Revolutionary-War Virginia. (I gather from the author's afterword that this 18th-century arc started in an earlier book and will continue in later ones.) I had hoped that there would be some obvious connection between the two, but at most there was a tenuous link regarding a dinosaur bone. Maybe it will become clear in later books. The present-day tale is fairly standard murder-mystery in style (other than the cats and dogs). There are two murders, the first was witnessed by most of the characters, the second not, though it was immediately evident to me how the second was accomplished and this limited the set of suspects. Mary "Harry" Haristeen investigates the first murder, of which much is made of the motorcycle ridden by the assailant. Yet in the end this aspect is just dropped with a shrug. The motive of the killer(s), when it is revealed, doesn't make a lot of sense to me. It all felt rather lazy and sloppy. I did enjoy the interaction of the cats and dogs as a comedic feature of the story. The 1780s tale is also interesting, though I fear it greatly romanticizes the position of women and of slaves in that era. A principal character in that arc, one Yancy Gates, goes from being a rather unlikable and underhanded guy to a semi-hero by the end, with no obvious reason why. The book is enjoyable to read, though I found it somewhat disappointing as a mystery.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Chazzi

    I received this through the Early Reviewers giveaway. I've read a number of Rita Mae Brown and Sneaky Pie Brown mysteries and I thoroughly enjoy them. This one was a bit different as it was two separate stories progressing side by side under one cover, but in different eras. In the current day, "Harry" is working with Gary, a local architect, on designing a new work shed. It is just before the New Year and the area is picture perfect. That is until Gary is shot dead walking out of his office with I received this through the Early Reviewers giveaway. I've read a number of Rita Mae Brown and Sneaky Pie Brown mysteries and I thoroughly enjoy them. This one was a bit different as it was two separate stories progressing side by side under one cover, but in different eras. In the current day, "Harry" is working with Gary, a local architect, on designing a new work shed. It is just before the New Year and the area is picture perfect. That is until Gary is shot dead walking out of his office with "Harry." There is no obvious reason and the whole community is shocked. "Harry" becomes determined to find out who and why Gary is shot, and starts to dig through her friend's past, his records and past deaths that have occurred that just might be related. It is a good thing that she has her posse of pets to help and to keep an eye out, as "Harry" is out for results and is not paying attention to those who are watching what she is doing and have no scruples of stopping her in any way possible. The second story takes place in the post-Revolutionary Virginia. It seems that it could stand on its own. There is greed and deception in this story line, tying into the greed and deception in the current era story. I did enjoy reading this story line, but felt that there may be more to it. Reading an afterwards by the author, I found that is the second part to a possible three part. That the previous book was the beginning and that the next book will continue the story. Guess that means that I'll need to get those two books!

  24. 4 out of 5

    George

    #27 in the Mrs. Murphy mystery series featuring Mary Minor "Harry" Haristeen and her pets Mrs. Murphy, Pewter and Tucker set in Albemarle County, Virginia. It is a double story: a murder mystery set in modern times (opens just before Christmas, 2016) and a continuing story of characters from the Revolutionary War era which opens in early November, 1786 with the characters dealing with the failing Articles of Confederation leading to the Constitutional Convention. The narrative jumps back and for #27 in the Mrs. Murphy mystery series featuring Mary Minor "Harry" Haristeen and her pets Mrs. Murphy, Pewter and Tucker set in Albemarle County, Virginia. It is a double story: a murder mystery set in modern times (opens just before Christmas, 2016) and a continuing story of characters from the Revolutionary War era which opens in early November, 1786 with the characters dealing with the failing Articles of Confederation leading to the Constitutional Convention. The narrative jumps back and forth between the 2 periods. Other than also taking place in the same area Harry lives in, there appears to be no between the two periods. Know from the author’s comments, this historical bit is a continuation from previous novels and will be continued in the next. Because of the double stories, there are a great many characters which tends to making keeping track of who is who a bit confusing. The Harry portion mystery is good, but gave it only a three because of the historical portion. While interesting in its own right, it detracts from the Harry mystery. To me it short changes the Harry story line and characters Brown has developed over time.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Diane Hernandez

    Probable Claws continues the 18th century tale from the previous book along with a modern day mystery. Harry, her Corgi Tucker, fat cat Pewter and even tempered cat Mrs. Murphy are hunting a killer again in the 27th entry in the long-running series. When a motorcycler shoots Harry’s architect, Gary, dead right next to her, she decides to investigate. In alternating chapters, the story of slave holders in early Virginia is also told. The animals always have the best lines in this series. This one i Probable Claws continues the 18th century tale from the previous book along with a modern day mystery. Harry, her Corgi Tucker, fat cat Pewter and even tempered cat Mrs. Murphy are hunting a killer again in the 27th entry in the long-running series. When a motorcycler shoots Harry’s architect, Gary, dead right next to her, she decides to investigate. In alternating chapters, the story of slave holders in early Virginia is also told. The animals always have the best lines in this series. This one is no exception. Pewter has an ongoing feud with a “dinosaur spider”. New Irish Wolfhound puppy, Pirate, is perplexed by Pewter’s dislike of anything that doesn’t bow down at her feet. I liked the modern story best. In the 1780s story, there were a multitude of characters and French history to wade through. If I lived in Virginia, it would have been more interesting. The modern plot had a few surprising twists and the killer wasn’t easy to determine even though the clues were fairly presented. Probable Claws is recommended to both cozy mystery and historical mystery fans. 4 stars! Thanks to the publisher, Bantam Books, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Vickie

    A very quick read even with two stories going on through the book. I haven't read this series before, so don't know if this is normal for the series. It takes place in present time with "Harry" Haristeen and her pets who also have dialogue throughout the book. There is also a story going on in the later 1700's. Same area in Virginia. The mystery only seems to be going in present time. I am not sure what actually ties the two stories together, but maybe it doesn't need to. I think I enjoyed the p A very quick read even with two stories going on through the book. I haven't read this series before, so don't know if this is normal for the series. It takes place in present time with "Harry" Haristeen and her pets who also have dialogue throughout the book. There is also a story going on in the later 1700's. Same area in Virginia. The mystery only seems to be going in present time. I am not sure what actually ties the two stories together, but maybe it doesn't need to. I think I enjoyed the past story a bit better. Having the two storylines going on spreads the book out as well as the mystery being solved. The mystery doesn't really have as big of an impact as is usual in cozy mysteries. I found I didn't mind it that much. I liked the characters, though the animal discussions was a bit disrupting at times. I will see about going back to the beginning of the series and see how that goes. This is obviously a well-loved series since this is book #27. I believe I can recommend this book and author. I will get back to you on the series as a whole.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Marilyn

    I am a "frequent flier" when it comes to the Rita Mae Brown mysteries. This one took a different track with intertwining two stories, one set in the present, involving a drive by shooting to which Harry is a witness, and the other being historical in nature, dating back to Virginia after the Revolutionary War. The only thing that got to me was that I would become involved in the portion I was reading, only to be directed back to the other story. That is not to say I didn't enjoy it. Rita Mae Brow I am a "frequent flier" when it comes to the Rita Mae Brown mysteries. This one took a different track with intertwining two stories, one set in the present, involving a drive by shooting to which Harry is a witness, and the other being historical in nature, dating back to Virginia after the Revolutionary War. The only thing that got to me was that I would become involved in the portion I was reading, only to be directed back to the other story. That is not to say I didn't enjoy it. Rita Mae Brown has a lovely grasp of making historical fiction fascinating! I was fortunate enough to receive an ARC of this new book and I thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to more stories in this series. It doesn't hurt to say that I am an animal lover and the vociferous animals play a part in these stories.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Phyllis Barlow

    I always love Harry, Mrs. Murphy, and the rest of the clan, so it's always a treat to me when a new installment in this series comes out. I was a bit confused when she first started the chapters from the 1700's; I couldn't see how they added to the story and it was a bit startling to be reading about something dealing with Harry and suddenly you're back in 1786. This time I enjoyed the interludes and having gotten to know the characters, I understand more what is going on. I read one review sugg I always love Harry, Mrs. Murphy, and the rest of the clan, so it's always a treat to me when a new installment in this series comes out. I was a bit confused when she first started the chapters from the 1700's; I couldn't see how they added to the story and it was a bit startling to be reading about something dealing with Harry and suddenly you're back in 1786. This time I enjoyed the interludes and having gotten to know the characters, I understand more what is going on. I read one review suggesting this could be a series of its own (not a bad idea) but I got the impression that the next book would be the last dealing with the Garth family. If you like reading about characters you've gotten familiar with, and reading about animals and their antics (and how they help save Harry from herself) you will love this book. Can't wait for the next one.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    This is the 27th Mrs. Murphy mystery, and the characters are like old friends. Mary Minor "Harry" Haristeen started out as the postmistress of Crozet, Virginia and is now happily tending her farm and her ever-growing group of animals. In this book, Harry is a witness to a friend's murder, which spurs her sleuthing skills in order to find the killer. The friend, an architect, had an avid interest in dinosaurs, which Harry sees as clues. The closer she gets to the truth, the more danger she is in This is the 27th Mrs. Murphy mystery, and the characters are like old friends. Mary Minor "Harry" Haristeen started out as the postmistress of Crozet, Virginia and is now happily tending her farm and her ever-growing group of animals. In this book, Harry is a witness to a friend's murder, which spurs her sleuthing skills in order to find the killer. The friend, an architect, had an avid interest in dinosaurs, which Harry sees as clues. The closer she gets to the truth, the more danger she is in from ruthless interests who do not want her findings exposed. In a parallel story set in the 1780's, the citizens are concerned about the meeting in Philadelphia that would result in the establishment of the new nation's form of government. Would the ideals they fought for survive? Would the new nation survive?

  30. 5 out of 5

    Sherrill Watson

    See Jaque's review. The first of two books on the historical subject. Interesting juxtaposition of a 2018 mystery with an 1787 story. The 1787 people are worrying about Washington - both the person (will he become President or King?) and D.C. / Philadelphia and whether we should have slaves, or a Parliament, and how much France & England are involved. The people in 2018 are involved in a(?) murder, of course; Big Business / a Corporation is trying to make money at the expense of some historica See Jaque's review. The first of two books on the historical subject. Interesting juxtaposition of a 2018 mystery with an 1787 story. The 1787 people are worrying about Washington - both the person (will he become President or King?) and D.C. / Philadelphia and whether we should have slaves, or a Parliament, and how much France & England are involved. The people in 2018 are involved in a(?) murder, of course; Big Business / a Corporation is trying to make money at the expense of some historical sites. The animals are helping move the plot along, tho Pewter is SO involved with a GIANT spider, she can't concentrate on much else! We are introduced to a sweet Irish Wolfhound puppy named Pirate, who promises to become a regular. Kudos to Michael Gellatly as illustrator. Wish his Pewter were a little fatter, though!

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