Summary and book reviews of Claws and Effect by Rita Mae Brown

Claws and Effect

A Mrs.Murphy Mystery

by Rita Mae Brown

Claws and Effect
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  • First Published:
    Feb 2001, 304 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2002, 320 pages

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Book Summary

Only her quick-witted cat and its animal pals stand between postmistress Mary "Harry" Haristeen and a homicidal maniac who means to ensure that she carries what she knows to the grave.

What do you get when you take an acclaimed author and pair her with a writer of the feline persuasion? A fiendishly clever mystery series that is the cat's meow.

Now Rita Mae Brown and Sneaky Pie Brown have done it again: concocted a purrfectly ingenious mystery that only a clever puss could untangle. And this time out, as murder makes its rounds at a hospital, tiger cat Mrs. Murphy must pounce on every clue to save her human from a coldly calculating killer.

As winter puts tiny Crozet, Virginia, in a deep freeze, everyone seems to be suffering from a case of the winter blahs, including postmistress Mary Minor "Harry" Haristeen, who knows things must be dull if the hottest topic of conversation is a chain letter from the mysterious Sister Sophonisba. Even Harry's cats, Mrs. Murphy and Pewter, and her corgi Tee Tucker, haven't been able to dig up any dirt lately. But life in this small Southern town is about to heat up....

The first hint of trouble comes when Hank Brevard, the plant manager of Crozet Hospital, and head nurse Tussie Logan let drop a few remarks that hint at a hospital in turmoil. Then a malicious comment by the hospital's director suggests that there's bad blood between him and his star surgeon, handsome Dr. Bruce Buxton. Still, no one takes any of it seriously until Hank Brevard turns up dead in the hospital boiler room.

Harry, who can't resist a mystery, no matter how dangerous, decides to do some investigating of her own. What she finds is that the hospital is a hotbed of secrets, a closed little world where ego, jealousy, and illicit love often collide.

But it's Mrs. Murphy, roaming the netherworld of Crozet Hospital, who sniffs out the most telling fact: a secret room in the old section that dates back to the time of the Underground Railroad. Then Harry is attacked and another doctor is executed in cold blood.

Now the usually mild-mannered postmistress vows to bring the killer to justice. But when Harry gets too close to the truth, the culprit prescribes another premeditated murder. And only a quick-witted cat and her animal pals stand between Harry and a homicidal maniac who means to ensure that she carries what she knows to the grave.

"People tell me things. Of course, I have a kind face and I'm a good listener, but the real reason they tell me things is they think I can't repeat their secrets. They couldn't be more wrong."

"People tell me secrets." The corgi looked up at Mrs. Murphy, the tiger cat, reposing on the windowsill at the post office.

"You're delusional. Dogs blab." She nonchalantly flipped the end of her tail.

"You just said people think you can't repeat their secrets but they're wrong. So you blab, too."

"No, I don't. I can tell if I want to, that's all I'm saying."

Tucker sat up, shook her head, and walked closer to the windowsill. "Well, got any secrets?"

"No, it's been a dull stretch." She sighed. "Even Pewter hasn't dug up any dirt."

"I resent that." A little voice piped up from the bottom of a canvas mail cart.

"Wait until Miranda finds out what you've done to her garden. She hasn't a tulip bulb left, Pewter, and all ...

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Reviews

Media Reviews

San Francisco Sunday Examiner & Chronicle Book Review

Mrs. Murphy is [a] cat who detects her way into our hearts.

The New York Times Book Review

As feline collaborators go, you couldn't ask for better than Sneaky Pie Brown.

Publisher's Weekly

Mrs. Murphy, the incomparable feline sleuth with attitude, returns to captivate readers in her ninth outing ... Particularly of note are the descriptions of the fox hunts that are so much a part of life in rural Virginia. Grateful fans will relish this charming addition by a master of the cozy cat genre.

Reader Reviews

Thomas A. Foxe

Just - A wonderful way to have fun. I would prescribe it as a highly effective medicine for stress relief. Caution is advised because it can be addictive.



Anonymous

I absolutly LOVED this book! It was awesome. Anyone out there who hasn't read it, go out and buy it right now. I coundn't put it down. I could have cried when the second doctor died. Won't tell who but believe me, your jaw will hit the floor on ...   Read More

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