The only remarkable thing about the village of Crozet is its nearness to Monticello, the historic home of Thomas Jefferson. Many of the town’s inhabitants proudly trace their ancestry back to Jefferson’s mother, father, or the US President himself; although he’s been deceased for more than 150 years, they’re still dedicated to preserving his home and legacy.
So when archaeologists conducting a dig of Monticello’s slave quarters unearth a very old—and very murdered—skeleton from beneath the hearth of Cabin Four, the town goes on high alert. Postmistress Mary “Harry” Haristeen and several more of the ladies of Crozet take it upon themselves to sniff out the identify of the victim, as well as of his murderer.
But when a modern corpse joins the list of the mysteries to solve, it may be up to Harry’s eagle-eyed cat Mrs. Murphy and her canine pal Tucker to lead the humans to the murderer.
Suspension of disbelief
I went into this book not really certain of what was going on. I’d never read any of Rita Mae Brown’s works, so I didn’t know that the heroine of her novels is actually a rather chatty cat named Mrs. Murphy.
Normally the idea of a talking cat who solves mysteries doesn’t strike me as my cup of tea; but then I realized that if I could believe in curses wrought by evil elves, a unicorn who becomes a human, and a woman who marries a werewolf, then in retrospect a talking cat who solves mysteries really isn’t all that silly. Plus I like history, and learning more about Monticello sounded like fun.
Very well done
I always appreciate a murder mystery that is deep, has some good twists, and leaves me surprised. Murder at Monticello was all these things, plus a good dose of humor and history. I got lost in the Jefferson family tree, but the excellent characters and descriptions ensured that I enjoyed the story.
As the author points out, “…the backbeat, the pulse, the percussion of exchange, was, is, and ever shall be gossip.” This statement is even more true in small towns. So while the Monticello murders are the main mystery, there’s plenty of juicy tidbits for the reader to try solving: Who’s having an affair with whom? Who’s scamming money from their business? Who keeps putting the fake spider in people’s mailboxes?
With plenty of twists and turns, gasps and giggle to go around, Murder at Monticello was a highly enjoyable read.
Anyone else read any Rita Mae Brown? What book of hers should I read next?