The mystery is wonderfully woven through a cast of fantastic characters which is topped off by Sister herself, a woman that I admire as if she really existed, living out her days in the foothills of the Blue Mountains. I would recommend this mystery to all fans of wonderful books, for it is so much more than just a detective story; rather, it is a story of love, heartbreak, friendship, and the beauty of nature.
I hope that the next book doesn't go into as much detail because I would like to read more in this series.
BOTTOM LINE: This first "Jane Arnold, Master of Jefferson Hunt, rural Virginia" novel is a truly fantastical cosy, but definitely not for those who do not enjoy talking animals, as there is a superfluity of them here. The characters are wonderfully sassy, and the setting is a sort of glorified Beatrix Potters Garden for adults (all the animals talk to each other and can understand humans, although the reverse isnt true), making this a place I very much enjoyed visiting. The murder plot was classic with a nice twist, setting up not one but two positively despicable people that youd gladly see murdered any old time. Plus I absolutely adored Sister Jane, the Master of the Hunt, a savvy, energetic 70-year-old who takes no guff from anyone, be they human, horse, dog or wild animal. What bothered me most was the denouement, wherein Jane leaves a note telling all for the murderer, in a place that, supposedly, only they would know (how or why is never cleared up) and expecting the murderer to turn themselves in, as is only proper for a Hunt Member In Good Standing.
I kept waiting for the murder to occur, but it only did approximately 2/3 through the book.
The characters, both animal and human, are well drawn, the stories entertaining and, as is typical of Rita Mae, reveal something about human nature and our relationships with one another.
A blurb on the back cover says this is a "snappy" book. Perhaps some of Brown's earlier or other books are of higher quality.
Jane, also known as Sister, now 70 years old is the matriarch of the fox and hound set in Virginia, must contend with all of the petty behavior of the selfish members of the locals.
I would give the book four stars for the fox hunting knowledge that I gained.
I was a bit nervous about starting this book.
Starting in the fall of 1962, Brown attended the University of Florida at Gainesville on a scholarship. she received another degree in cinematography from the New York School of Visual Arts.citation needed Brown received a Ph.D. in literature from Union Institute & University in 1976 and holds a doctorate in political science from the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C. Starting in 1973, Brown lived in the Hollywood Hills in Los Angeles. During Brown's spring 1964 semester at the University of Florida at Gainesville, she became active in the American Civil Rights Movement. Brown took an administrative position with the fledgling National Organization for Women, but resigned in January 1970 over Betty Friedan's anti-gay remarks and NOW's attempts to distance itself from lesbian organizations.