Book Review: Whiskers is the Dark: A Mrs. Murphy Mystery

Novel: Whiskers in the Dark: A Mrs. Murphy Mystery

Author: Rita Mae Brown & Sneaky Pie Brown

Publisher: Penguin Random House

Publishing Date: 06.04.19

Genre: Ghost Mysteries > Animal Fiction > Ghost Suspense > Mystery > Fiction

Page Count: 288 Pages

ISBN-10: 0425287181

ISBN-13: 978-0425287187

Available From Amazon, Barnes & Noble, BAM, Hudson Booksellers, IndieBound, Powell’s, Target, Walmart, Penguin Random House

My Rating: 4 Stars

Rita Mae Brown Bio (From Publisher’s Page):

Photo: © Mark Homan

Rita Mae Brown is the bestselling author of the Sneaky Pie Brown series; the Sister Jane series; the Runnymede novels, including Six of One and Cakewalk; A Nose for Justice and Murder Unleashed; Rubyfruit Jungle; In Her Day; and many other books. An Emmy-nominated screenwriter and a poet, Brown lives in Afton, Virginia, and is a Master of Foxhounds and the huntsman.
To inquire about booking Rita Mae Brown for a speaking engagement, please contact the Penguin Random House Speakers Bureau at

Follow Rita Mae Brown on her Website, Sneaky Pie Brown FB Page, Sneaky Pie Brown Twitter

ABOUT WHISKERS IN THE DARK (From Publisher’s Page):

Death stalks the Blue Ridge Mountains as a centuries-old mystery resurfaces and murder mars the lead-up to an annual beagle competition, in a thrilling new tale from Rita Mae Brown and her feline co-author Sneaky Pie Brown.

“As feline collaborators go, you couldn’t ask for better than Sneaky Pie Brown.”—The New York Times Book Review

A massive nor’easter has hit northern Virginia, where Mary Minor “Harry” Harristeen joins groundskeeping efforts at the National Beagle Club at Aldie as the date for its springtime Hounds for Heroes veterans’ benefit approaches. Harry’s fellow volunteers, including her oldest friend, Susan Tucker, comprise a spirited group of hunting enthusiasts, some former service members themselves. But things take a sinister turn when, after a routine tree cleanup along the Club’s hunting trails, retired foreign services officer Jason Holzknect is found dead, throat slit from ear to ear. Soon enough, another murder in their midst jolts the preparations, convincing Harry that the killer is familiar with the Club—and must be close by, masked in plain sight.

The intrigue extends to the grounds of Harry’s beloved local church, where the identity of an eighteenth-century skeleton wearing precious pearls remains a mystery. The anonymous woman’s neck had been snapped, and marks on the grave where her body was secreted indicate that someone recently tried to remove it, leading Harry to question how well she really knows those around her.

As always, Harry’s crime-solving cats Mrs. Murphy and Pewter, and Tee Tucker the Corgi share her determination to sniff out the foes among friends, even those long buried. Harry will need her four-legged companions’ help more than ever: a ghostly beagle only they can see may hold the key to the culprit.

My Review:

Rita Mae Brown began writing poetry before she wrote her first novel, Rubyfruit Jungle in 1973. I read Rubyfruit Jungle shortly after its publication. The second Rita Mae Brown book I read was Starting from Scratch: A Different Kind of Writers’ Manual, published in in 1988. Brown has written more than 60 books which include several series: Sister Jane Mysteries (11), Runnymede (4), Mrs. Murphy Mystery Series (28), and Mags Rogers Mystery Series (2), as well as 14 novels, and four nonfiction books. Additionally, as a screenwriter, Rita Mae Brown has written approximately nine screenplays.

Whiskers in the Dark: A Mrs. Murphy Mystery is the first book written by Rita Mae Brown & Sneaky Pie Brown that I read to review. I never considered that I would give the infamous Rita Mae Brown a four-star review, and yet I have. Brown is one of the best authors I’ve read to date, and I want to be clear that my four-star review has absolutely nothing to do with Brown’s writing ability. I found no fault in her writing style in regards to plot, character development, setting, problem, or solution. Brown is an unfettered mystery writer. Had there not been animals talking to one another and at their humans, I would have read Whiskers in the Dark in a day, at the most. However, I could not wrap my mind around the talking animals that were developed characters in Brown’s mystery novel. And each time the animals began conversing, I would stop reading and walk away from the book.

I found the historical events facinating that Brown wrote into her novel, from the opposing differences of the cruelness of Henry VIII to the Virgin Queen’s compassionate rule. From the Civil War and the signing of the U.S. Constitution. The similarities of Russia in the days of Julius Caesar to that of today of Russia and its manipulation of our government. For the record, Brown does not come out and explicitly say this; however, it is implied. Brown also speaks of the Vietnam war and the antiwar movement to the civil rights movement, and her reference of the Feminist Movement to the #MeTOO movement. The historical references were brilliantly referred to throughout Whiskers in the Dark. And while Brown & Sneaky Pie Brown wrote a unique murder mystery that baffled me with talking animals, Brown’s inclusion of humor was refreshing.

There is an audience for Brown’s Whiskers in the Dark: A Mrs. Murphy Mystery, but I did find the talking animals distracting. Had there not been any animals, aside from pets, that were developed characters within Brown’s story, I would have thoroughly enjoyed the mystery as it was, without the talking animals.

Thank you to Random House, NetGalley and Rita Mae Brown for the opportunity to read and review Whiskers in the Dark.

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