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In the latest installment of the Mrs. Murphy series, Rita Mae Brown brings you discussions on abortion, the evils of the Republican Party, the evils of politicians in general, relative merits of the BMW vs Mercedes transmissions, the importance of proper Virginia bloodlines for breeding, how to fit into Virginia society if you are not lucky enough to have the proper pedigree, the merits of heat pumps vs. oil burners, the glory of Ford F-150s (but the shilling is less than earlier books), evils of tv and the internet, the differences between the sexes, panty fetishes, the difficulties of veterinary coding for billing and filling, Jeffersonian architecture and the brilliance of animals. What you won't find, sadly, is a mystery of any real significance.
The series has faded from its former glory and so has the heroine, Harry Haristeen. The mystery is tacked on in most places and only rarely is it the focus of the story. Harry continues her roller coaster ride from very intelligent heroine to a stereotypical dimwit who ties herself down on the tracks in front of the proverbial train. Will her animals save her? (Of course they will). Will the enlightened and liberated modern women still need saving by the stud hero? Tired cliches and increasingly one dimensional characters are sadly taking over what were once truly pleasurable reads. They mystery would have made a good short story in length, but it still would have been mundane.
The writing is fundametally good and the debates are often fair if not balanced, but the mystery is what Rick and Coop (the law) should be listing as missing.
Kate Forbes continues to be an excellent narrator.
Bottom line: Don't feed what has become a cash cow unless the quality comes back.
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