Postmistress Mary Minor "Harry" Haristeen watches as local contractor H.H. Donaldson dies suddenly in the parking lot after a University of Virginia women's basketball game. It's up to feline sleuths Mrs. Murphy and Pewter, and their corgi pal Tucker, once again to help their loyal human sniff out a murderer in the close-knit community of Crozet, Virginia. With at least as much curiosity as her cats, Harry propels herself to search for the killer—no easy task without a murder weapon or physical evidence in sight.

A notoriously unfaithful spouse and an obstinate businessman, the victim could have been killed for personal or professional reasons. While Brown's story—for which she shares credit with her own cat—might move too slowly for some, her effervescent prose, detailing such seemingly mundane matters as the frigid snow-filled countryside and the commotion of a college basketball game is richand compelling.

Sometimes, though, the mystery seems relegated to the background, and readers may solve some of the major elements of the crime well before the characters. As cute and cunning as Harry's trio of four-legged friends are—eloquently conversing with one another and using their brains and brawn to find the killer—they may not be enough to bring this book beyond a readership of fervent fans and animal enthusiasts. (Mar., 320 pp., $24.95)

Reviewed by: 
Diane Snyder