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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Wish You Were Here by Rita Mae Brown

Wish You Were Here by Rita Mae Brown
Publisher: Bantam Dell
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (242 pgs)
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Cholla

Curiosity just might be the death of Mrs. Murphy--and her human companion, Mary Minor "Harry" Haristeen. Small towns are like families: Everyone lives very close together. . .and everyone keeps secrets. Crozet, Virginia, is a typical small town-until its secrets explode into murder. Crozet's thirty-something post-mistress, Mary Minor "Harry" Haristeen, has a tiger cat (Mrs. Murphy) and a Welsh Corgi (Tucker), a pending divorce, and a bad habit of reading postcards not addressed to her. When Crozet's citizens start turning up murdered, Harry remembers that each received a card with a tombstone on the front and the message "Wish you were here" on the back. Intent on protecting their human friend, Mrs. Murphy and Tucker begin to scent out clues. Meanwhile, Harry is conducting her own investigation, unaware her pets are one step ahead of her. If only Mrs. Murphy could alert her somehow, Harry could uncover the culprit before the murder occurs--and before Harry finds herself on the killer's mailing list.

Murder isn’t exclusive to big, crowded cities, as the residents of Crozet, Virginia are about to discover for their own. When the citizens of the small town start turning up dead, the local post mistress thinks the odd postcards they’d received just before their murders might be a clue. She’s soon off to the races, with the help of her tiger cat and Corgi. Will small town life in Virginia ever be the same?

Mary Minor “Harry” Harristeen is Crozet’s postmaster and keeper of Mrs. Murphy, a tiger cat, and Tee Tucker, a Welsh Corgi. Harry always seems to be at the center of everything that happens in Crozet, but not always because she wants it that way. The post office seems to be the hub of the community with the residents coming and going and arguing and fighting on her doorstep. More often than not, the chaos is brought to her, although she’s notorious for doing a bit of snooping on her own. I found Harry to be an enjoyable character. She’s smart and knows her town like no one else, which will eventually help her solve the mystery. She’s also an animal lover and treats her furry friends as if they were family members, something which really endeared her to me.

The real stars of this novel, however, are the furry P.I’s. Mrs. Murphy and Tee, along with assorted other four-legged Crozet inhabitants, gossip and sniff and help point the humans in the right direction. The relationship between Mrs. Murphy and her canine pal, Tee Tucker, is priceless. They interact in much the same way as two sisters might – not always a fan of the others, but always with love. The contact and introspection between the animals really made the story for me.

Wish You Were Here was an entertaining mystery chock full of laughs, surprises, and animal hijinks. The seriousness of the murders is tempered by the natural lightheartedness animals bring to anything. Between the never-ending parade of colorful characters, their pets, and the ongoing mystery, you’re sure to find yourself engaged to the very end.

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