Murder on the Prowl

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Although some might be inclined to view most major urban centers as leaders in competition for murder capital of the nation, Crozet, Virginia, is definitely not to be excluded. Although small in terms of population, Crozet sees more than its share of assorted mayhem. Despite this gory past, however, none of Crozet’s human population saw the latest round of murders coming.

On successive days obituaries appear in the local newspaper which refer to individuals not yet dead. “Harry” Haristeen and her friends see two practical jokes which exhibit a singular devotion to bad taste. Which is not to say that Mrs. Murphy, Haristeen’s perspicacious feline companion is ignorant of the possibilities. Sure enough, two seemingly unconnected murders occur. More importantly, the local authorities have suspects, but a motive sufficient to account for both murders does not immediately emerge.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Murphy, accompanied by Tee Tucker and occasionally the rotund Pewter, are sniffing about for valuable clues about the murderer’s true identity. A task made all the more difficult by the inability of their master to comprehend their warnings and the presence of a murderous bobcat who threatens the intrepid trio.

MURDER ON THE PROWL, this sixth series entry, is perhaps the first to place the non-human inhabitants of Crozet more to center stage. This development does not, however, diminish the work in the slightest. The series conforms to a formula, but the literary paradigm employed allows innovative variations on the central theme. Furthermore, if Rita Mae Brown elects to provide an expanded dimensional aspect to her non-human characters equal to that accorded the rest, more power to her. It is not altogether necessary to read previous works in this series, but after finishing this one, many readers will most assuredly do so.